Military to Civilian: Top Transferable Military Skills

Yes, Maybe You Should Hire a Nuclear Machinist’s Mate

Over the years writing for Recruiting Daily, I have extolled the extraordinary skills and experience that veterans bring to the job, and for good reason. Most veterans develop sought-after skills during their years of service that translate well to a wide range of workplace scenarios. From entry-level to management roles, to blue-collar and white-collar work.

Regardless of industry and company size, veterans have proven themselves as disciplined, adaptable, and high-performing employees.

If you’re thinking that none of your open positions are suitable for veterans, you may be surprised at how many former service members meet your hiring requirements. The key is to understand how a military candidate’s background and qualifications translate to the requirements for the position you are searching to fill.

When the skills align and the match is right, there is no limiting the potential of a veteran new hire. In reality, too many veterans walk away from their first civilian jobs within the first year because they were inappropriately matched for a role.

 

Military to Civilian: Top Transferable Military Skills

Many of the resumes you see from transitioning veterans will probably include language you do not understand.  Experience as a “Nuclear Machinist’s Mate,” “Fire Control Technician,” or “Air Force Avionics Craftsman” may sound impressive. But they’re also confusing and may even cause you to question a veteran’s capacity to transition into the civilian workplace.

And once you get into the MOC (military occupation code) letter and number labels, it gets even worse! Some of the skills on a military resume are familiar and readily transfer to candidate profiles. But, it often requires a deeper understanding to assess opportunities for post-military careers. Especially for veterans who served in the infantry, artillery, as well as other combat arms backgrounds.

If you’re in any of the following industries, here’s a guide to improving your understanding of how to tap into this trained and transitioning talent pool.

 

Manufacturing

Many veterans flourish in this industry and can operate in a wide variety of industrial environments. From labor-intensive and low-tech, to highly sophisticated product development. They are accustomed to working in tough environments with little supervision. And have a keen ability to understand the relationship between quality, quantity, maintenance, safety, and the people they supervise.

Military technicians are highly skilled in electronic, electrical, and mechanical systems. They excel in roles such as Maintenance Technicians, Quality Engineering and Improvement, Logistics and Transportation, Production Supervisor, Maintenance Manager, Manufacturing Supervisor, and Manufacturing Engineer.

Look for military titles such as Navy Nuclear Trained Technicians: (Nuke ET, Nuke EM, Nuke MM). As well as those with electronics, electrical, and mechanical backgrounds from all branches of service: (Army, Navy, United States Marine Corps (USMC), Air Force, and Coast Guard). And finally, Junior Military Officers (JMO) from all branches.

 

Banking/Finance

Opportunities in finance make sense for JMOs and Noncommissioned Officers. Or, service members who obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. Looking to leverage their communication, management and leadership skills to engage with clients and co-workers.

Appropriate roles for these veterans include but are not limited to the following. Mortgage Officer, Operations Manager, Business Analyst, Supply Chain Manager, Project Manager, Team Leader, Retail Operations, Assistant Branch Manager, Customer Service Manager, and Sales/Service.

Look for military titles such as 1st or 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain, Civil-Military Operations (CMO). Those with backgrounds in Finance, Supply, Logistics, and Administration. As well as combat arms service members with military occupations such as infantry, armor, artillery, air defense artillery, armored cavalry, and combat engineers.

 

Skilled Technicians

Enlisted Technicians serve in the military at least three years. They have world-class technical training and intensive hands-on experience, excelling in any situation regardless of difficulty. They are ideal for positions in electrical, electronics, mechanical, maintenance, field service, operations, and technical supervision.

Specific roles that are a potential match include but are not limited to the following. Maintenance Technician, Facilities Control Technician, Site Engineer, Data Center Technician, Data Center Operations Manager, Diesel Generator Mechanic, Mechanical Technician, and Maintenance Mechanic.

Look for military titles such as Navy Electronics Technician, USMC Technician, Navy Nuclear Electronics Technician, Nuclear Machinist’s Mate (Mechanics), Nuclear Electrician, as well as those with electronics, electrical, and mechanical backgrounds from all branches of service.

 

Sales

Military leaders excel in sales positions. Leveraging their management skills and work ethic to build client relationships. Motivated and competitive, veterans are known to quickly grow into leadership positions within the corporate sales hierarchy.

Consider these veterans for roles such as the following. Industrial Sales, Sales Engineer, Inside/Outside Sales Representative, Territory Manager, Sales Manager, Business Development Associate, Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Sales, and Financial Sales.

Look for military titles such as 1st or 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain. Plus, Noncommissioned Officers with or without a bachelor’s degree, depending on position requirements.

 

Medical Device and Pharmaceutical

Military officers have a practiced understanding of the link between leadership and production, quality, safety, maintenance, and procedural compliance. Veterans with a technical Military Occupational Specialty code (MOS) utilize their unmatched technical training and expertise. Along with proven communication and customer service skills. To install, calibrate, and service medical equipment while professionally representing your organization.

Consider veterans for roles in field service. As well as manufacturing equipment maintenance, FDA compliance, quality, sales, and marketing.

Look for military titles such as 1st or 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain, Navy Nuclear Trained Technician (Nuke ETs, Nuke EMs, Nuke MMs). As well as those with electronics, electrical, and mechanical backgrounds from all branches of service.

 

Construction

Attention to safety plays an important role in this industry. An issue that easily translates to the very nature of what many active-duty veterans do every day. Whether it’s about weapons, live ammunition, or simply the general mission of the military. There is ample opportunity in this industry for Class A mishaps and other safety issues.

This can be from home building to commercial to industrial construction. Veterans can also utilize their technical degrees and experience in driving timelines, resources, and manpower for a wide variety of roles in construction. Including Project Manager, Superintendent, Estimator, Project Foreman, Quality Inspector, Project Engineer, and Construction Manager.

Look for military titles such as 1st or 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain, Navy Nuclear Trained Technician (Nuke ETs, Nuke EMs, Nuke MMs). As well as those with backgrounds in Supply, Logistics and combat arms. Service members with military occupations such as infantry, armor, artillery, air defense artillery, armored cavalry, and combat engineers.

        

Don’t Forget the Soft Skills

Beyond the many sought-after hard skills veterans bring to the workplace, there are also the intangibles. The core soft skills not easily gleaned from a resume. Not only are veterans fast learners, self-disciplined, and have the ability to work autonomously. They are also adept at thinking on their feet to overcome obstacles in extraordinarily high stakes environments.

 

Do Your Homework. Get the Right Candidate for the Job!

I encourage all recruiters, regardless of industry, to understand the differences in terminology and phraseology between military skill sets and civilian job descriptions.

Not only will you identify more veterans who are well-matched for the job and improve retention, but you will also be rewarded with qualified, committed, and high-performing employees with bottom-line impact.

Mike Starich on LinkedinMike Starich on Twitter
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Mike Starich is CEO of Orion Talent, a provider of skilled talent acquisition, recruitment optimization, and military hiring to businesses in manufacturing, supply chain, energy, healthcare, and more.


Prior to joining Orion in 1992, Mike served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years as a Flight Officer and Marine Officer Recruiter.




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Mike Starich is CEO of Orion Talent, a provider of skilled talent acquisition, recruitment optimization, and military hiring to businesses in manufacturing, supply chain, energy, healthcare, and more.

Prior to joining Orion in 1992, Mike served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years as a Flight Officer and Marine Officer Recruiter.

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