12 Military Skills To Put On a Resume for Any Job

By Lori Norris

Updated November 15, 2021 | Published March 20, 2020

Updated November 15, 2021

Published March 20, 2020

Lori Norris has been educating and supporting military service members to see their career options and market their military skills during their military transition since 2005. Lori considers herself bilingual – she speaks military and civilian language. She is the host of the Lessons Learned for Vets Podcast, the owner of Next for Vets education services and Get Results Career Services company.

Related: Job Cast: How to Write a Resume After Military Experience

Indeed hosted this Job Cast to walk through how to build a civilian resume on Indeed as a military service member or spouse.

During your military service, you receive extensive training and the diversity of your experience ensures that your skill set is very strong and well-rounded. This article will highlight the top 12 skills that can add value to your resume, no matter what job you are targeting in your post-military career. These skills can help you stand out from the competition during the job search process.

In this article, we discuss why military skills are important and how you can use those skills to demonstrate your value on a resume when seeking a career in the private sector.

Why are military skills important?

Military skills are important because they can help service members develop abilities that boost their career prospects. People who join the military learn valuable soft (interpersonal) and hard (technical) skills that help them work both independently and as part of a team. Most of the skills learned during your military service appeal to employers who are looking for applicants with a strong work ethic. Former military candidates returning to civilian life can have many career opportunities for this reason.

Related: How To Present Military Experience on a Resume

12 transferable military skills

Here are some of the most important military skills that transfer well to civilian careers:

  1. Communication

  2. Adaptability in the face of adversity

  3. Flexibility

  4. Problem-solving

  5. Technical skills

  6. Integrity

  7. Teamwork

  8. Leadership

  9. Organization

  10. Compliance

  11. Strategic Planning

  12. Dedication

1. Communication

In the military, you worked with a variety of people from diverse cultures, demographics and personalities. You probably communicated frequently with team members to complete objectives and missions. The communication skills you learned during your service translate well into nearly any job opportunity. Great communication makes meetings more productive, helps resolve conflicts and facilitates goal-setting. Communication also involves active listening, which helps you converse more easily with coworkers, clients and managers.

Related: How to Write a Military to Civilian Resume (With Template and Example)

2. Adaptability in the face of adversity

People with a military background are often well-versed in preparation and planning. However, when things do not go as planned, military members know how to adapt, overcome obstacles and find a way to get the job done. Being able to create and follow through with plans increases the chance of achieving your desired outcome and that is a benefit that you bring as a military-experienced job seeker. However, you should also highlight your ability to recognize when plans aren't working and quickly change your course of action when needed. When you demonstrate proficient planning skills and adaptability under pressure, employers may be more likely to promote you to management positions.

3. Flexibility

Military training teaches you how to handle change and adapt to new situations. In the military, you learn to quickly adapt to new jobs, locations, team members and cultures. You can also use your flexibility to adapt to changing work environments, allowing you to stay productive. Flexibility helps you work well with coworkers who may have different opinions and work methods. Employers seek flexible employees since they can multitask easily and learn new responsibilities quickly.

4. Problem-solving

Working under tight timelines with limited resources and finding a way to get the job done under adverse conditions is all part of a day’s work in the military. Military members are often excellent problem-solvers because they have extensive experience with conflict resolution. If you were exposed to a variety of logistical challenges, social issues within your squad or tactical problems, then you probably have advanced problem-solving skills. Employers value team members who go beyond their typical duties to solve problems and find solutions to issues in the workplace.

Related: Effective Problem-Solving Steps in the Workplace

5. Technical skills

Depending on your military occupation, you likely have technical skills that translate directly to a corresponding civilian role. For example, if you worked as a mechanic in the military, you probably possess the technical skills required for a civilian mechanic position. Even if you don’t want to continue working on the same type of equipment, you bring troubleshooting and fault isolation skills as well as the ability to follow technical directions to diagnose the root cause of an issue. Make a list of the skills learned in your military occupational specialty to see if any fit into similar civilian roles.

Read more: 15 Different Army Military Occupational Specialties

6. Integrity

Military personnel are entrusted with high-value property and classified information. When you put on the military uniform, you are required to follow an honorable moral code as you represent your entire branch of the service and your country. In the military, you take on high-level roles very early in your career and learn to take responsibility at a young age. All of these experiences combine to build integrity. You are held to high standards that require discipline, which helps you as a military-experienced candidate to be successful in the workplace. Showing up on time, meeting deadlines and following through with assignments demonstrates your level of integrity at work. This integrity can help you qualify for positions that handle sensitive information, such as jobs in intelligence or finance.

7. Teamwork

There is no stronger sense of loyalty, camaraderie and dedication to your teammates than in the military. Very few tasks are undertaken alone and almost nothing is achieved solo in the military. Because of these group settings, former military members make excellent team members and collaborators. In most workplaces, you need to have the same teamwork skills to achieve goals and meet deadlines. Teamwork can also help you create a healthy work environment that your coworkers enjoy.

8. Leadership

Military members usually understand the value of leadership and how it helps unify groups due to the hierarchical structure of the military. Whether you are mentoring junior military members, leading large groups of people or managing tasks or projects, the military teaches excellent leadership and management skills. Having leadership skills makes you an appealing candidate for management and supervisory positions. Your past experiences will help guide other team members who need assistance with assignments and other job responsibilities.

9. Organization

Experienced military talent who participated in missions know the importance of keeping materials, people and instructions organized. Organization skills also help you prioritize tasks to meet all of your deadlines for any job. Not only does being organized save time, but it also saves money. When deciding which military skills to put on your resume, bringing attention to your organization skills tells hiring managers that you're dependable, focused and can manage your time and resources wisely to produce positive outcomes.

10. Compliance

Respect for and accountability to authority, policies and procedures is ingrained in military service members. From your military experience, you gained an understanding of the importance of following procedures, regulations and guidelines, as it can often be the difference between life and death in many situations. This dedication to compliance is valuable to an organization that is regulated by strict guidelines. Your focus on following procedures showcases your attention to detail and your work ethic to do the job right the first time.

11. Strategic planning

Curiosity about the bigger picture or small details helps military personnel think ahead, strategize and plan for potential circumstances. In the military, you are taught to take initiative to discover more efficient methods or innovative solutions to problems that you may face. Hiring managers value strategic thinkers who ask big-picture questions related to processes and efficiency because they lead to improvements in the workplace. When adding strategic planning as a skill to your resume, you could also use "creativity," “proactive planning” or "innovation," especially if the job description includes these keywords.

12. Dedication

Military members have that “can-do” mentality, often because failure is simply not an option when talking about the obstacles they must face every day. Military members know from experience that it takes hard work and dedication to advance in any setting. In the workplace, dedication can help you stay productive when completing complex or difficult tasks. Your level of dedication in the workplace may lead to a promotion or special recognition that contributes to your overall career goals.

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