15+ Ways to Translate Your Military Experience for a Civilian Career
Are you ready to transition from the military to a civilian job?
The skills you've developed during your service can help you excel in a wide array of civilian roles—the key is showcasing those skills in a way that stands out to recruiters and hiring managers.
To help you do just that, we asked veterans, hiring managers, and recruiters at our partner companies to share their advice on how you can best highlight your experience and transferable skills when applying for jobs. Keep reading for their responses!
Bristol Myers Squibb—Detail out measurable accomplishments
"As a Veteran, you have gained unique and valuable experience that you can present in a way that civilian employers can understand.
- Read through the job description to understand the core capabilities the company is looking for and then translate your military experience and training in a way that will add value to the role you are applying to
- Detail out measurable accomplishments so that they better understand the scope (# of people you supervised, value of inventory you managed, etc.)
- Try and avoid military specific jargon and abbreviations
- Attend job fairs and network."
PagerDuty—Translate military language into more universal terms
"The key is to translate your valuable military experience to a resume that a civilian audience will understand. It's essential to look at the job's skill requirements and build your resume highlighting how your military experience relates. Remember the civilian audience; you want the recruiter and hiring manager to understand your experience - spell out acronyms, translate military language into more universal terms. Highlight your transferable soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership on your resume.
At PagerDuty, veterans can find community within our ERG, PatriotDuty, as their mission is to promote and build military support and presence through recruitment, internal education, and community outreach."
—Yvonne Bosquez, Senior Recruiter/Recruiting Business PartnerLearn more about PagerDuty here.
Meta (formerly the Facebook company)—Use the Military Skills Translator
"We invite veterans to use the Military Skills Translator, a tool used to help navigate all career opportunities at Meta. In partnership with Military.com, we have added in an "Interest" option to help expand career opportunities beyond those that align with military experience to those that align with your passions.
Tips to optimizing the tool:
- Enter in your Branch and Military Job Title.
- Select from a list of Interests.
- Use the civilian skills results to translate your skills on a resume. These skills can also help guide building out a resume and developing points for interview conversations.
Visit www.fb.careers/veterans to learn more."
Learn more about Meta here.
Uber—Start by building your network
"Start by building your network––creating a Linkedin and adding connections––who you can look to when the time comes. Work on your elevator pitch––your story in three minutes––and when describing your experiences, use language anyone can understand to translate your experiences. Think ahead and make a plan about what's really important in the next phase of your career. Do you want to continue to build the relationships and skills that you've been working on or do you want to do something completely different, something that's a passion of yours you haven't had time to pursue yet?"Learn more about Uber here.
Siemens—Showcase your transferable skills in your resume
"Siemens is reengineering the applicant screening process to do away with "screening out" candidates (that aren't qualified) and implementing a "screening in" concept. Veterans can showcase their transferrable skillset in their resume and, if available, a cover letter. Siemens hires Veterans and transitioning Military members with direct and indirect experience into positions, providing training where needed. Performing a job in the military doesn't mean you have to stay in that role as a civilian. Zach, a Navy Helicopter Pilot, was hired into sales and is now a Sales Manager. Siemens' growth culture allows passion and learning to transform your career."Learn more about Siemens here.
Blackrock—Do research to understand the industry you’re interested in
- "Research and network: Understand the industry, identify the role/team you're interested in, align your military experience with BlackRock principles, connect with someone from our extensive Veterans & Allies Network – BlackRock employees are always receptive to others reaching out and asking questions.
- Translate your resume/CV into business terminology to describe your military roles, responsibilities and achievements – but make sure the roles are still recognizable as military ones. In the interview, use the STAR method to highlight challenges you faced and how you overcame them – be specific and try to use plain language.
- Consider gaining qualifications that help you certify the experience and skills you bring across (e.g., project management).
- Don't underestimate how transferable your skills are! The soft skills you developed over your military career will be hugely beneficial to BlackRock.
- Try to enjoy the process; there is nobody here trying to trip you up."
Cummins—Find how your characteristics overlap with the company’s core values
"Cummins Inc. has organized and committed to fulfill our vision of making Cummins a place where veterans are empowered to achieve their full potential.
We believe that the military cultivates integrity, dedication to excellence and service to community in every service member.
Though the specific words may differ, there is no question that these characteristics strongly overlap with our core values.
Providing an engaging, challenging and inclusive workplace for military veterans and their families strengthens our business as a whole and benefits our customers, employees and communities."
Learn more about Cummins here.
Moody’s—Showcase your values in your application and resume
"Moody's recognizes and supports veterans, active-duty military personnel, and military families. Much like the military, Moody's is rooted in core values, which you can learn about by visiting https://about.moodys.io/our-values . When applying, veterans should align their military service values with Moody's by showcasing those values in their application and resume."
Learn more about Moody's here.
Stack Overflow—Articulate your actionable outcomes with details
I believe the most important thing a Veteran can do is articulate where they have had actionable outcomes and experience that correlate to what is required within the duties of the job description regardless of when they performed those duties. Equally, I would use civilian terminology versus military jargon as it pertains to business. Laterally, explain the experience in size, scope, and impact with outcomes both wins and learned opportunities. Describe People, Tools, Technology, and Process. Were you the owner or task manager? Lastly, short bulleted formatting to gain attention and leave the hiring manager to ask questions about your experience.Learn more about Stack Overflow here.
Smartsheet—Only list accomplishments that are relevant to the job you’re applying for
"Have someone who has no military experience read your resume to make sure they understand your experiences and performance. Avoid unnecessary technical military terms, and only list accomplishments that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Reframe your experiences and focus on the characteristics you bring to the table. Things like teamwork, integrity, leadership, and innovation are all desirable traits that the military is known for. You're coming in with incredible work experience and professional success but will approach problems and workflows with a totally fresh perspective—that's not only unique but also valuable."Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Relativity—Articulate how you’d be a valuable member of the organization
"One thing veterans can do when applying to Relativity is highlight their unique skillset. What I found difficult was how to articulate how I'd be a valuable member of the organization. As veterans, we often have a solid amount of training, and our ability to multi-task is severely underrated. Veterans constantly assess situations and focus on multiple, heavily relied upon operations at the same time. In the Army, we've adopted the term "battle buddy." Never forget how important your teamwork skills are. Even though we may not be going into battle, companies have a mission that we can help accomplish."
—Keith Willoughby, Incident Response Analyst
Learn more about Relativity here.
PwC—Bring your passion and ingenuity to work
You've done amazing things - be sure to tell us about them! Teamwork, loyalty, and adaptability are all qualities valued in a PwC Professional; they are also ingrained in those who have served in the military. Whether it was developing your direct reports, executing the mission, or administrating day-to-day operations, your military experience is translatable, valuable, and in high demand. Bring your passion and ingenuity to put your skills to work in new and unexpected ways.Learn more about PwC here.
Intuitive Surgical—Understand why your skills are important
"Don't try to blindly showcase your experience without understanding what you are trying to solve or how you can fit into the organization. Start by asking what the job is, what they are looking for, what the challenges are, WHY those are important?!"
—Sascha Gerber, da Vinci Clinical Sales Manager
"Be confident in the fact that you are likely 5 years older than the civilian candidates interviewing for the same job you are. This means additional life experience, maturity, thoughtfulness, etc. Figure out a way to highlight those qualities!"
—Mark Stepanishen, da Vinci Clinical Sales ManagerLearn more about Intuitive Surgical here.
CHG Healthcare—Connect the dots between your military position and the role you are applying for
"When applying for a job at CHG Healthcare, we feel a military background can bring a broad range of skills and equip veterans with different ways to approach their work. We're interested to learn:
1. How your military experience helped you grow and develop.
2. What you learned about yourself, and how that shaped your approach to work today.
3. What new skills and attributes you developed through your military experience.
4. What are some specific examples of how these skills and attributes have led to successful business outcomes.
Help us connect the dots between your military position and the role you are applying for. The language of the military and business are often different, even when the work or skills are similar. We don't want to overlook something that they've done that could be a differentiator for them."Learn more about CHG Healthcare here.
Okta—Be open to learning and receiving feedback
"As veterans, we've gained valuable experience during our service, and it's essential to present that in a way employers will understand. Translating your military service to ensure the reader understands - that's hard! Try using plain language while articulating the importance of the role you had and quantify results—document training courses to help employers understand the military education you received. Remember, never underestimate your leadership experience and your value. Being open to learning and receiving feedback is a must-have quality employers are looking for, and you had to evolve/adapt to an entirely new career- multiple times! You got this."
—Meghan Gilliam, Senior Scalability Enablement AnalystLearn more about Okta here.
Spectrum—Take advantage of a resume development tool
"Spectrum has a long history of hiring individuals who have a mission-oriented mindset, something that is particularly cultivated during military service. Here are some resources and tips specific to veterans when applying for a role with us:
- Take advantage of a resume development tool to help you align military accomplishments with civilian opportunities.
- Spectrum offers an "Introduce Yourself" video feature that allows you to create a personal video to describe your interests and experience.
- You can also try our FitFinder tool to find your ideal career by answering questions about your interests, styles, background, and career aspirations.
Spectrum has recently been recognized in Forbes "2021 America's Best-In-State Employers for Veterans" for the following states: Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina.
Learn more about our Military Hiring Mission in the video above."Learn more about Spectrum here.
S&P Global—Review the job description carefully
Latisha Kimber, Head of Digital Engagement
"Veterans should be sure to highlight their unique and valuable experience, and clearly demonstrate how it can apply to the specific job they are applying to. These candidates will often have developed important competencies like leadership, collaboration, and problem solving that are in demand across many business functions. To stand out, review the job description carefully and identify the key competencies and skills that the role requires. Then tailor your resume to highlight your most relevant experience and how it applies to the open role."Learn more about S&P Global here.
CDW—Show your career progression
"At CDW, we know our veteran coworkers bring core military values that align directly with how we do business, our company code of honor: The CDW Way. Veterans can highlight their experience with commitment, integrity, respect, and making things happen. Additional tips from our recruiters include:
- Show career progression and consolidate listing of ranks where possible.
- Think about the role you are applying for and clearly highlight the relevant experience.
- Translate military occupation and rank into civilian sector titles. Check out our military skills matcher to see how your experience translates directly to roles at CDW.
- Always include your military schooling opportunities and deployments in your resume.
Learn more about one of the many ways we support military and veteran families in the video above."
Learn more about CDW here.
Nike—Let your experience shine
"When you apply to Nike, we want your experience as a Veteran and as dreamers, optimists, and inventors to shine through. Your unique training in the military is crucial for us to continue to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. We are invested in your future at Nike because here, we win as a team. As Veterans, you have proven that to complete the mission you can navigate ambiguity and understand how important teamwork is. Your lived experiences of bravery, fear, and inspiration now enable you to bring that same determination and spirit to Nike. "
Learn more at: jobs.nike.com/military
Learn more about Nike here.
Procore—Explain your experience during interviews
"November is Veterans and Military Families Month
Every November, Veterans and Military Families Month is observed in the U.S to honor the sacrifices made by active duty, Guard, and Reserve military families.
At Procore, we're honoring Veterans and their families by creating space to listen, learn, and share resources that meet their unique needs. we're evolving our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives, amplifying Veteran voices and transforming Procore into a place where everyone can thrive. We're also providing our recruiters with new resources while training them to ask interview questions that help Veterans identify transferable skills from their service. Read more about how Procore is building a more diverse and inclusive future that's grounded in a shared sense of belonging."Learn more about Procore here.