Military training, traditions, and customs provide tools necessary to succeed in the civilian job market. Millions of people have had the honor to serve in the military uniform, many former service members have gone on to serve in positions of leadership as civilians. The transition from military to civilian life can be frightening regardless of time in service.
I served as a telecommunications specialist in the United States Army. The training I helped me transition into civilian life. I worried about finding a job and supporting my family as many service members before and after me.I discovered former military members are highly desirable by hiring managers due to training and experience. The following skills helped me transition into my current civilian jobs as an Information Security Specialist.
Job Training: My military occupational specialty (MOS) was Special Electronics Device Repairer. I learned to service a variety of military and civilian computers and telecommunications equipment. I learned the skills necessary to perform my MOS at a 6-month school, which would have cost civilian thousands of dollars. I also had the opportunity to complete college courses and IT industry vendor certifications while on active duty. I received numerous job offers due the combination of military training, university education, and vendor certifications.
Accountability: Service members are accountability to their leadership as well as peers. In the military, selfish thinking could lead to a failed mission or death of peers. In my civilian job, there exists a corporate hierarchy. I’m accountable to a manager who is trained to assist me with a variety of issues. I avoid jumping the chain of command for minor issues, a skill taught to all service members. Employees who jump the corporate hierarchy for minor issues are not favored.
Responsibility: Low ranking service members have little responsibility besides being in proper uniform and in the right place at the right time. My responsibilities grew as I earned rank. I gained responsibility over equipment and personnel at a young age. A civilian can work an entire career without any real responsibility. In my current position, my meager responsibilities do not compare to those that I had as a soldier. If called upon, I would have no qualms against working in high capacity.
Cultural Awareness: The military is diverse organization; the term “American” does not define a religion, race, or ethnicity. I worked with male and female soldiers with diverse backgrounds. Upon exiting the military, I settled in a culturally diverse area. On a daily basis I deal with a variety of people, I’m different from the people I work with and have no issues respecting others and abiding by the corporate policy on cultural issues and contributing to a positive corporate climate.
Commitment: Service members receive commands to undertake missions. I did not have options on honoring commitments and in the event that I failed to meet a commitment, the consequences were severe. In the civilian job market, those who regularly fail to honor commitments find themselves unemployed. When I signed my enlistment contract, and swore allegiance, I committed my life to the Army. My commitments as a civilian are not as great, but still meaningful. Learning to honor commitments in the military is a skill helps me stay employed as a civilian.
Leadership: Male or female, all service members have the potential for leadership. The military invest time and money grooming leaders through on the job training and special academies. I received leadership training and eventually led a squad of soldiers. Good leadership requires practice and I had the opportunity to lead a squad of soldiers that has helped me to function in my civilian job. In my civilian job I lead with my technical expertise, train peers and make critical decisions.
Communication: The military tenets are “shoot, move and communicate.” Leaders must communicate clear orders to subordinates. Subordinates in turn must communicate with each other to complete the mission. I learned to effectively communicate with my seniors, peers, and subordinates to accomplish a task. My communication skills improved in the military, helping me to impress hiring managers in interviews, deliver presentations and write professional reports.
Financial Management: Time and money are important to military members. Broke service members are sad service members, and opens the doors to an array of problems. I joined the military and living on my own at the age of 19. The military provided free training to help understand the importance of avoiding debt, establishing savings and fiscal responsibilities. My civilian job requires a security clearance. Individuals with high levels of debt are high-risk, and pose a threat to government or corporate security. I’ve learned to manage debt and live frugal in order to remain employed.
Resume Writing: The military offers programs to help departing service members find civilian employment. I was told the average service member changes jobs 3-5 times upon exiting the military. Prior to exiting the military, I was required to attend a resume writing course. A strong resume is important to landing job interviews and potential employment. Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) Specialist reviewed my resume and helped me tweak it eliminate military jargon unfamiliar to civilians. The ACAP allowed me to register for career fairs where hiring managers from various corporations attended and reviewed my resume, eventually leading to employment.