Knowing the job skills employers are seeking is important when applying for a job, but documenting those skills on a resume when applying for a job in the civilian world can be another matter. Fortunately, those having served in the military have a leg up on applicants without military service because military members and veterans already have mastered many of the soft skills.

7 In-Demand Job Skills in 2024

Here are seven in-demand job skills employers are looking for in 2024.

1. Communication

Communication is a two-way street. Not only do you have to be able to put your thoughts and actions into words, but you must also be good at listening. Most military members have mastered this skill, because regardless of our rank, we are always receiving instructions from higher up. Take an Operations Order for example. Many times, the tasks assigned in an OPORDER are filtered down to the squad in the form of oral communication. The mission usually depends on the right people being at the right place at the right time with the right equipment. This takes good active listening skills to ensures that no detail is overlooked or not understood.

2. Customer Service

Although the military doesn’t refer to it as customer service per se, we call it taking care of our people. From Team Leader on up, we are in positions where we have people that look to us to take care of their health, well-being and to answer their questions on a myriad of topics. In the civilian workplace, they refer to it as customer service. Some of the customers will be external and be from the company’s customer base; others will be internal as they will be the people within the company that you are responsible to lead.

You are solving problems that people bring to you – much like the one’s soldiers, sailors or airmen under your command brought to you while you were serving.

3. Leadership

It is a fact that employers want people with leadership skills. The military develops that skill right from the beginning with new recruits at Basic Training functioning in different leadership positions within their training platoon. And the leadership skill continues to develop throughout one’s military career as we progress through the ranks with more leadership skills required as our span of control increases.

4. Management

The military is all about management whether it is of people, equipment or documents. From the time we enlist, we have equipment and uniforms that we are within our charge to manage. At the higher grades, equipment that we are “signed for” can run into the millions of dollars so knowing where it is at all times and taking care of it is critical, not to mention that some of it may be classified and of interest to foreign adversaries if it fell into the wrong hands or was misplaced.

And when it comes to project management, the military calls them tasks, but what they are in fact are projects. We learn to break down big tasks into smaller ones, and organize and assign them based on the order in which they must be done. This is nothing more than project management; we just call it something different.

5. Teamwork

This is one task that military personnel learn early on – nothing gets done without teamwork. It is vital to mission accomplishment and so important that if one member fails to accomplish their assigned task, the whole mission could fail. Either formally or informally, we are all members of a team … either as a member or a leader of one.

6. Problem-solving

This is another area where military personnel excel over their civilian job applicants. We will find a way to get it done …regardless. Many years back – back in the lean years in regard to funding – there was a saying in the military “Do more with less.” And while we did not have the resources that we should have had to carry out missions, we always made do with what we had or created what we did not have to get the mission accomplished … because that was the number one priority. It is amazing what a ”Speedy Four” can come up with went sent on a “seek and acquire” mission to get things you need but do not have.

7. Adaptability

Adapt and overcome. If you have military service experience, then you know this phrase well. Again, it ties back to mission accomplishment. Regardless of the obstacle, we learn how to adapt and overcome whatever it is that is stopping us from moving forward, literally or figuratively.

Military members have these seven skills, but where we sometimes fall short is that we do not effectively translate them, and how they were acquired, into “civilianeese” on our resumes. So if the person reviewing your resume does not have military experience, they may not recognize what you have on your resume as being one or more of these essential soft skills that employers so desperately seek. Have a friend or family member not familiar with military lingo review your resume, and they can point out terms or phrases which they may not understand and that you can correct before submitting your resume.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.