Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Career Advice

Top 10 Transferable Military Skills

Paul Brown
13.11.23

It’s no secret that a career in the military equips individuals with a wealth of experiences and valuable skills, all of which are highly sought after by civilian employers. For the vast majority of service personnel, you’ll one day find yourself working in a civilian role, which could see you fulfilling a variety of roles across industries. As such, these skills will be critical to your success post-military. But how exactly do your military skills translate in the civilian world? Let’s take a look…

Why are military skills important?

Military skills are highly valuable as they equip service members with a range of soft, interpersonal skills and hard, technical skills. Both types of competencies can enhance an individual’s career prospects in the civilian world. So, many of the skills you’ve acquired over the course of your service are transferable and make you an appealing candidate to employers.

Top 10 transferable military skills

Here are five of the top transferable military skills that could land you your next civilian job…

1. Leadership

Those with experience in the forces are faced with leadership opportunities from the very onset of their career – even at the lowest rank. This early immersion in leadership opportunities instils an innate ability to manage and inspire people, fostering exceptional team collaboration. Military personnel are well-versed in working within diverse and dynamic teams, a skill highly sought after by companies. Their experience helps individuals develop various leadership qualities such as adaptability, decisiveness, and the capacity to lead by example.

In the corporate world, these leaders contribute to a culture of efficiency, initiative, and effective team dynamics, making them invaluable assets to organisations seeking robust leadership and management capabilities.

2. Teamwork

Everyone seems to add this term on their CVs, but what does teamwork really mean? You might be surprised but the close-knit environment and proven working relationships within the Forces lead to directly transferable teamwork skills! This includes knowing the team dynamic, identifying members’ strong and weak points and knowing how to utilise this to achieve the best results. If you are able to communicate this effectively on your CV and in job interviews, you’ll be at an advantage against other candidates who may not have the same experiences to demonstrate teamwork.

3. Dedication

Military personnel are deeply ingrained with unwavering commitment to their mission and team. The dedication learned during a military career translates seamlessly to civilian careers, where it fuels a high work ethic, meticulous attention to detail, and a persistent drive for excellence. They are known to approach tasks with resilience, pushing through adversity to meet goals. This quality is a beacon of consistency in the workplace, fostering trust, productivity, and a culture of success – an asset to any team.

4. Communication

Communication is a term used quite exhaustively, yet is absolutely fundamental. From basic grammar and punctuation to dealing with highly technical teams or briefing the management board, these are daily challenges military personnel are used to. Clear and precise communication is a non-negotiable requirement in the military.

In civilian careers, the ability to communicate effectively remains equally crucial. Military veterans bring with them the expertise to craft compelling and coherent messages, simplifying complex concepts for diverse audiences, whether they’re presenting to executives, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams, or engaging with customers. This makes ex-forces highly desirable across sectors!

5. Problem solving

Problem-solving is a coveted skill in today’s workforce. Military personnel excel in this area, possessing the ability to approach challenges with a solution-oriented mindset. Their training equips them to navigate complex scenarios, even in high-pressure environments, fostering a tenacity to overcome obstacles.

This skill directly translates to civilian roles, where individuals who proactively seek solutions and can adapt to unforeseen circumstances are invaluable. Veterans’ capacity to assess situations, think critically, and devise effective strategies not only benefits large organisations but also contributes to efficient decision-making and innovation in diverse professional settings.

6. Emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a vital soft skill cultivated through military service. Soldiers learn to understand and manage their own emotions, fostering self-awareness. Moreover, military personnel are trained to recognise and respond to the emotions of their comrades, enhancing their capacity for empathy and effective communication within diverse teams.

This heightened emotional intelligence is invaluable in civilian careers, where it promotes harmonious relationships, conflict resolution, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. It enables veterans to navigate challenging situations with composure and build strong, collaborative work environments, ultimately contributing to their success in various professional roles.

7. Discipline

Military life is a crucible for discipline, punctuality, and a steadfast work ethic, traits that have enduring value in civilian employment. Service members are taught structure and order. This discipline extends beyond mere adherence to rules; it encompasses a dedication to excellence and a focus on the task at hand. Punctuality is a non-negotiable habit, reinforcing reliability and trustworthiness. A strong work ethic, instilled through the military’s rigorous demands, assures that tasks are completed with diligence and dedication. These qualities are not only respected but actively sought after by civilian employers, as they contribute to a culture of efficiency and reliability in the workplace.

8. Strategic planning

Strategic planning, a skill finely honed in the military, is a highly valuable asset in civilian careers. Military personnel are adept at setting clear objectives, assessing resources, and meticulously crafting plans to achieve their goals. This skill not only ensures mission success but also translates seamlessly into civilian workplaces. Strategic thinkers are sought after for their ability to analyse complex situations, devise comprehensive plans, and adapt to changing circumstances. They excel in leadership and management roles, steering organisations towards success with a keen understanding of long-term vision and the steps needed to achieve it.

9. Adaptability

Military personnel are trained to thrive in dynamic, often unpredictable environments. Their capacity to swiftly adjust to changing circumstances, think on their feet, and remain composed under pressure equips them for various civilian roles. In today’s fast-paced and competitive professional landscape, adaptability is key. It allows individuals to embrace innovation, respond effectively to unexpected changes, and contribute to a company’s resilience and growth. Those with a background in the military bring a unique ability to tackle challenges head-on and navigate the uncertainties of the modern workplace with confidence.

10. Technology skills

As mentioned previously, the military does not only equip you with soft skills, but offers the opportunity to learn technical skills that can help you pursue a highly-skilled civilian career. Such skills include those developed in operating advanced equipment, including communication systems, radar, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and sophisticated navigation and targeting systems.

Additionally, military training often includes expertise in information technology, cybersecurity, and the use of specialised software for data analysis and mission planning. These technology skills, honed in the military, are transferable to civilian careers in fields such as IT, telecommunications, cybersecurity, and various technology-driven industries.

Don’t underestimate the value of your existing military skills

Remember, although you’re delving into a new career, that doesn’t mean you need an entirely new skillset! The above attributes are proof that the military provides a great foundation for preparing individuals with skills that are essential in the commercial world. As a matter of fact, it’s argued that interpersonal skills can ultimately be the deciding factor whether you get hired or not!

Regardless of whether you’re still in the military or you have already left and are actively looking for a job, don’t forget to recognise the skills you already have… they may just land you the perfect job. Just make sure you perfect your ex-military CV, cover letter, and interviewing skills to make your experience shine against other candidates!

At FDM, we understand this more than anyone. That’s why we’re committed to helping ex-forces make the transition from the military into civilian careers in technology. We offer veterans of any rank the opportunity to build on their existing skill sets with industry training and qualifications, and kickstart a career with our esteemed clients.

Sound right up your street? Explore the FDM Ex-Forces Programme in more detail or get in touch for more information.