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What type of skills/accomplishments from military service appeal most to civilian employers?


Philip Curran Carlsbad, CA

Looking for perspectives from those having already transitioned or mentors in the private sector on what types of experience are weighed most heavily in the hiring process.

6 September 2019 4 replies Mentoring



William Munroe Dunstable, MA

Hi Phillip,
The question is very open-ended, and the skills transfer is based on what you want to do in the civilian world. For example, if you're going to go into sales, then you look at all your skills and missions in terms of creating and closing deals as well as your relationship skills. If you want to go into marketing, product management, or program management, then you translate missions into project management skills.

Consider a mission in this way:
Planning for the mission including objectives = Civilian statement of work, business objectives, and key deliverables.

Defining and obtaining required resources = Civilian project scope, requirements, and budgeting

Briefing the mission = Civilian project launch planning

Executing and measuring the mission = Civilian progress reporting and tasks/activities/deliverables. You can also add in here anything close to timeline or gantt charting.

Completing and debriefing the mission = Civilian writing lessons learned and creating key deliverable reports from the project.

There are great web resources to help do all this translation. Here is a good one for project management -

Think in terms of the job you want to do and search out those job descriptions on the internet. Then look at your skills and military work in terms of who you would be working for (called the hiring manager) and what they need you to do (in the job requirements). Then do your best to translate overall you have done to civilian terms. It is not easy, but with a little time and research (and you can ask for help on here), you will find that 70 to 80 percent of your military skills will translate over.


Steven Mathews Spring, TX

In addition to the other suggestions, you need to add the Three Pillars of Success: Technical, Budget, and Schedule.
Every successful business, no matter the industry, stands or falls on these three fundamental characteristics.
In the military environment, every mission or task has a desired outcome. Meeting or exceeding the desired outcome satisfies the Technical Pillar.
You are allocated a certain amount of money to pay for the mission or task. Meeting or spending less to meet the desired outcome satisfies the Budget Pillar.
You are allocated a certain amount of time to complete the mission or task, or a deadline to meet. Completing the mission or task that meets the desired outcome on or before the allocated period, or deadline, satisfies the Schedule Pillar.
I provide free coaching to help assure you have effectively transformed your military Pillars into Commercial features that will resonate with a company.


Drew Schildwächter Wilmington, NC

Philip: that's a really open-ended question, and I believe the answer depends very much upon where you want to be hired. For me pursuing both management and pre-sales consulting, my time as a foreign military force advisor was most interesting to my employers because of the comparisons I drew between that time and the prospective roles.

You have a broad range of experience to potentially parlay it seems. XOs design, schedule, and monitor training among other things for the company. The 4 must plan and provision battalion operations. All this added to the baseline of the allure the Marine Corps holds for many employers.

Based upon my own transition out of the Marine Corps, I would recommend starting with where you want go, then figure out how to align your knowledge, skills, and abilities.


Rex Conger Gilbert, SC

Specific examples of Leadership, Creativity, Teamwork, Cooperation, Compassion mixed in with specific examples of Quantitative and Qualitative accomplishments.

When you are looking at potential job opportunities you need to demonstrate how you have successful experience at the key roles and requirements of the position.

Best wishes

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