Experience As an Asset: How Your Military Experience Can Help Your Civilian Job Search

The above picture is of the same man. On the left, he is dressed in civilian clothes and on the right, he is dressed in military clothes.

How Your Military Experience Can Help Your Civilian Job Search

You've fulfilled your duty to your country. Now, you're ready to go home, spend time with your family, and turn your military experience into a rewarding civilian career. 

But for veterans looking to join civilian industries, it can be tricky to figure out how your military experience transitions into employment terms that an ordinary person can understand. 

Here's how you can make your experience an asset in your civilian job search, and how to translate those skills into your job interview.  


One of the biggest traits employers look for? Teamwork. 

Guess what the military has in spades? 

There's no greater team out there than the military. Without working together, supporting your team members, and relying on your fellow soldiers to have your back, the military would fall apart. 

You can use your military experience to show that you have proven skills as a team player. Regardless of the position, you're looking for in the civilian job market, being able to work in a team is an invaluable skill

Being able to show that you're a reliable team player is one of the best ways you can set yourself apart from a pack of applicants. 

Leadership (Described in Civilian Terms)

Another great skill that you can show through your military experience is leadership (so long as you express it in civilian terms). 

Any hiring department or future boss wants an employee that goes above and beyond their basic tasks. 

As a member of the military, you're responsible for expensive equipment, budgets, performance, and other people's lives from a young age. That requires a high level of leadership that's hard to find elsewhere. 

After all, how many 24-year-olds can say they've managed a team of eight and millions of dollars worth of equipment in high-pressure situations? 

The key is to translate those leadership skills into civilian terms--help an employer understand how your experience would translate to a comparable experience at their company. 

Quick Learner

Another trait that the military (and civilian employers) value is the ability to learn quickly. 

Think of it this way: you're thrown into a situation most people have never encountered before. You're asked to think on your feet in delicate (and dangerous) situations, and you're asked to change jobs quickly if necessary. 

That shows an employer that you can learn almost anything they set in front of you, which can work to your advantage if you don't have as much relevant experience. 


As a veteran, you know that becoming a member of the military is no easy task. 

Every new servicemember is broken down so that the military can build them up again. Then, they're put through incredibly difficult situations as part of their day-to-day job. 

Most people would turn tail and run at the prospect of that kind of challenge. But not you. 

This is a great quality to show employers because they want someone who will grow alongside the company and continue to make themselves a valuable employee. As a veteran, you're familiar with continual improvement--after all, no one starts with a high rank. 

Knowing that you need to work hard to earn the recognition you get is a trait any employer can respect. 

Security Clearance

Depending on the type of career you're seeking, another benefit of your military experience is a security clearance.

Most military positions require a security clearance of some kind. For you, that might just be part of the job. For a regular employer, not necessarily. 

Government agencies and contractors know that they need to get security clearances for their employees in order to have them do the necessary work. However, this is a lengthy process that requires a great deal of commitment on their part. 

As a veteran, there's a good chance you already have an active security clearance. This opens you up to jobs requiring clearance and makes it easier for you to get a higher clearance if needed. 

Alternately, if your industry doesn't require a security clearance, having one makes an important statement to your employer. 

Basically, an active clearance shows an employer that you're already a worthwhile (and trustworthy) investment. If the United States government entrusts you with its secrets, an employer certainly can. 

Performance Under Pressure

Finally, your military experience shows a critical skill that employers love: the ability to perform under pressure. 

Few people can comprehend the amount of difficulty and stress you face each day as a member of the armed forces. You're thrown into complicated, often dangerous situations and asked to act with efficiency and integrity to carry out your mission. 

To an employer, that shows that you're able to perform well under pressure, regardless of the circumstances. It's difficult to find that skill in everyone, so when a hiring manager spots it, it makes you extremely valuable. 

Ready to Use Your Military Experience?

If you're ready to turn your military experience into a lasting, engaging civilian career, you've come to the right place.  We offer all kinds of tools and resources to help veterans prepare for life in the workforce, regardless of the circumstances. 

Check out our blog for more helpful posts to boost your new career, like these seven mistakes to avoid on your resume (and these seven skills you should definitely include). 

Looking to kick off your job search? Click here to check out all of our available job categories, from accounting to nursing to broadcasting to federal positions and more. 

You've already served your country. Let us help you find your next calling in life.