One of the challenges during the post-service job search is encountering the common response from potential employers, expressing concerns about veterans’ industry-specific experience. Although military backgrounds often offer skills and knowledge that align well with civilian roles, there are instances where organizations may not immediately recognize this connection. This situation can be frustrating and disheartening for veterans who expected a smoother transition. So, how can veterans address this issue?

Industry Experience Vs. Translating Military Skills

Veterans  come from various military branches and carry unique experience based off of what their job entailed. While much of what was experienced is credible, the elephant in the room will argue that their skills  may not be as easily ‘transferable’ as one might have thought.

The challenge with this dynamic is two-fold. One side of the challenge is that many veterans are led to believe that it’s not a lack of industry experience that will keep them from receiving a job. But rather, it’s their inability to translate their experience. The other side of the challenge is that there is nothing that can be done if the industry experience is truly the issue. Veterans cannot claim industry experience that they do not have no matter how well they can articulate their experiences.


If a veteran wants to work in an organization that is perceived as a non-industry fit, then they need to be prepared to do one of two things. One option, is to bridge the industry gap with credible volunteer or SkillBridge experience.

The second option, is to be willing to masterfully articulate a compelling argument as to why your experience is a great asset and be willing to swing for the fences. This may include using your network to gain an opportunity to speak with a decision maker and someone ideally looking to add a veteran to their team.

If neither of these options pan out, then it may be time to step away from the job search and reflect on what you really want for your next role. A few questions to consider while navigating this next chapter include:  What about this industry do you value the most? Are you able to obtain the same values within a different industry? Are you willing to volunteer some time to gain the experience that you need and is that a realistic financial option for you?

Always Value Your Worth

You don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes even the most compelling analysis of one’s skills and abilities may not align nor convince an employer to hire you. What you can ask yourself is how important is it for me to work here and what am I willing to sacrifice to make it happen? Remember, any professional relationship requires equal reciprocity. Otherwise, one party always ends up in a state of resentment. Value your worth and stand fast.

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Carin Richelle Sendra is a Post 9/11 USAF Veteran that served both in active duty as well as D.O.D security contracting OCONUS. She has spent time in both the private and public sector working within the Human Capital space assisting organizations to train and develop their teams. She has spent time as a lecturer for academic and professional development. Carin has spent several years supporting the military and veteran community while offering her unique perspective that many veterans encounter post-service. She has a Master's degree in Management studies from The University of Redlands and a certificate from Cornell University on The Psychology of Leadership.