Finding the perfect civilian career role after serving your country can be an exciting journey. During this transition process, it’s important to understand the art of selling how the skills you’ve learned in the military will translate into a compelling civilian career path. That’s where transferrable skills come in.

These skills, also known as portable skills, are the abilities, knowledge, and experiences you gain through work, education, or volunteer work that you can apply across different job roles and industries. They’re not tied to a specific job title or technical expertise but rather focus on core strengths that are valuable in any work environment.

The military, in particular, is a breeding ground for these highly sought-after abilities.

Why are transferrable skills so important?

Transferrable skills go beyond your technical military knowledge and demonstrate your value as a well-rounded candidate. Employers are looking for individuals who can lead, collaborate, think critically, and adapt quickly – all skills honed to a razor’s edge during your military service.

Here are some of the most relatable transferrable skills military veterans possess.


From giving orders on the battlefield to motivating a team to exceed expectations, veterans excel at delegation, decision-making under pressure, and inspiring others.

Teamwork & Collaboration

Military success hinges on the ability to work effectively within diverse teams towards a common goal. Veterans are masters at collaboration and communication, ensuring everyone is on the same page.


Whether it’s delivering a clear briefing or crafting a concise report, veterans tend to be great at written and verbal communication. They can explain complex concepts, persuade others to their point of view, and adapt their communication style to different audiences.

Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking

Veterans are experts at analyzing situations, identifying solutions, and adapting to ever-changing circumstances.

Adaptability & Resilience

Things can change in an instant in the military. Veterans thrive in dynamic environments, overcome challenges with grit and determination, and learn new things quickly.

Discipline & Time Management

Meeting deadlines, prioritizing tasks, and staying organized are second nature to veterans.

Integrity & Work Ethic

Veterans often possess a strong moral compass, are dependable, and are dedicated to excellence in all they do.

Stress Management & Accountability

Working effectively under pressure and taking ownership of tasks are essential for military success, which perfectly translates to the civilian world.

Showcasing Your Transferrable Skills

Identifying and highlighting your transferrable skills is key to successfully finding the right job. When it comes to making a first impression, it’s important to make sure your resume and cover letter sell it. This includes translating your transferrable skills into a language civilian employers understand.

Here are some effective strategies to highlight these valuable assets and convince hiring managers you’re the perfect candidate for the job:

1. Tailor it to the job.

Carefully review the job description and identify the skills most relevant to the position. Focus on those skills in your resume and tailor your descriptions to match the keywords used in the job posting.

2.  Action verbs are your friends.

Use strong action verbs to describe how you utilized your transferrable skills in your military experience. For example, instead of simply stating “leadership,” use verbs like “spearheaded,” “motivated,” or “mentored” to showcase your leadership abilities in action.

3. STAR method is a key tool. 

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a powerful tool to demonstrate your skills with specific examples. Describe a situation where you used a particular skill, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the positive results you achieved.

4. Quantify your achievements whenever possible.

Did your leadership result in a team exceeding its quota by 20%? Quantifiable achievements showcase the impact you made and strengthen your resume.

5. Go beyond the experience section.

Don’t limit yourself to the experience section. You can also weave your transferrable skills into your resume summary or a dedicated “skills” section. This allows you to highlight a broader range of skills you possess without overwhelming the reader.

6. Leverage online resources.

Many resources are available to help veterans translate their skills. Utilize online skill assessments and explore veteran-specific career websites like to find the perfect job opportunity.

7. Highlight adaptability and continuous learning.

Military service fosters a strong ability to adapt to new situations and continuously learn new skills. Highlight these valuable traits in your resume and cover letter. Employers seek candidates who can thrive in dynamic environments and readily learn new things.

Your military service has equipped you with a powerful skillset. Now, it’s time to leverage those skills and find your perfect civilian career opportunity.

For additional support, check out our Military Transition Resource Center.

Related News

Brandon Osgood is a strategic communications and digital marketing professional based out of Raleigh, NC. Beyond being a passionate storyteller, Brandon is an avid classical musician with dreams of one day playing at Carnegie Hall. Interested in connecting? Email him at