Which skills do employers value most from military veterans?

Posted by Amanda Augustine

May 20, 2014 @ 05:43 PM

Make the military-to-civilian career transition easier by highlighting these sought-after strengths.

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Our nation’s veterans continue to find the job search more challenging than their civilian counterparts, according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the employment rate for this group has shown improvement, the job hunt remains a difficult process.

“The problem is often not a lack of skills and qualifications,” noted Robert Dagnall, expert resume writer for military-to-civilian transitions. “It’s how to translate military experience into terms employers can recognize and value.”

I spoke with a number of career professionals who specialize in military-to-civilian transitions to find out which skills are most transferrable to, and sought-after by, employers in the private sector.

Security Clearances

A security clearance is one of the most valuable qualifications a veteran can bring to the table. According to Dagnall, a Top Secret, or “TS,” clearance would cost a private company hundreds of thousands of dollars if they had to pay for that level of background screening. Security clearances not only offer proof of the candidate’s responsibility and accountability, but they also save the employer a lot of time and money. Take the necessary steps to maintain your security clearance so your competitive advantage doesn’t lapse.

Supply Chain Management & Manufacturing

“Many service men and women were entrusted with equipment, supply inventories, and million-dollar budgets,” says Dagnall. This experience lends itself to a promising career in operations or manufacturing where areas of expertise such as procurement, purchasing, inventory management and logistics are vital.

Subject Matter Expertise

Government-sector employers such as civilian contractors and government agencies often seek out professionals with U.S. military subject matter expertise. Job candidates can leverage their knowledge to work in a variety of roles. This can range from consulting companies that require individuals with operational knowledge of military training systems, to education providers who need someone to establish and maintain relationships with key military and veteran stakeholders for their business development efforts.

Adaptability

Jackie Das is the owner of HeadStart Career Services, an Arizona-based career coaching organization. Having worked with several military groups over the years, she’s found that military personnel can sell their adaptability to employers in the private sector.  “Military professionals work well under extreme pressure, deal well with change, and are good at adapting to new cultures,” says Das. These skills are appealing to a variety of organizations, from start-ups to well-established companies operating in challenging environments.

Documented Work History

While former military job seekers may find the search to be more difficult, Dagnall notes one crucial advantage they have over their civilian competition: documentation. As any resume writer will tell you, the more quantitative information you can bring to the resume writing-process, the better. Veterans come armed with SMART transcripts, VMETs, evaluation reports, training certificates, and award narratives detailing valuable training and accomplishments. He notes that the "rater's comments" section on evaluations is especially useful, as it often yields specific metrics and quotable testimonials about performance. “If it's in writing, it's fair game to repurpose for a veteran's job search.”

TheLadders is committed to serving those who have served our nation by helping them find opportunities that match their skills and expertise. Please click on the following link to download a complete list of resources for military professionals

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Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Topics: Job Search, Resume & Cover Letters