Key Skills Military Transition to Civilian Life Requires

Military Transferable Skills List

According to the VA, roughly 200,000 service members transition from military to civilian life each year. As you prepare to lace and tie your boots one last time, you will receive several forms, handouts and other documents overflowing with the information you need to make the most of life after military service.

For this reason, the primary skill you will rely heavily upon to successfully step into the civilian world is organization. Today, Empire Resume will tackle organizational skills and provide tips and strategies to help you navigate your new life and career.

The Military Exposes Service Members to Organizational Skills

The military and government itself are well structured entities — from the breakdown of the chains of command, to labeled forms.

No matter whether you’re in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard, you’re familiar with organization and have used it time and time again to accomplish tasks. 

Capt. Angela Atha, executive officer of the 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in Missouri, uses organizational skills to complete missions.

In a news article by Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) she admits to being an organizational freak as she carries the following:

  • Leather bound notebook
  • Oversized planner
  • iPad

These items contain schedules, to-do lists, notes and agendas. This is how she keeps the wing leadership prepared and on-time.

See, you have exposure to organization, but applying these skills to life out of uniform is different.

What Are Organizational Skills?

Organizational skills are soft skills that create order and efficiency. Lack of these skills, will stunt your professional growth.

Some of the organizational skills you’ve already developed during your military service. Just think about the years of experience you have when you consider these skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration
  • Delegation
  • Communication
  • Decision-making

For more information on more organizational skills, check out Indeed’s Career Development Website.

Because organization is not a walk in the park for everyone, we’re breaking down the main organizational skills you need to get ahead and discuss how you can use them to land the job you want.

Key Organizational Skills for Life After the Military

Military Transferable Skills List

All companies, whether military friendly employers or not, place a high value on candidates with amazing organizational skills.

These skills are one way to stand out on LinkedIn as well as your military to civilian resume. And, they apply to your personal life as well. 

The skills that will take you from boots to suits include:


Self-management is the ability to control self and hold yourself accountable for your responsibilities. It requires you to take an inventory of yourself and how you walk through life.

Managing yourself is a recurring part of life. Be sure to take some time to review your growth, mindset, workflow patterns, and a major topic in society today — self-care or mental health and wellness.

As Steven Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”

Time management

Time management is crucial in the private sector. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll hear the famously coined phrase, “Time is money.”

Please understand, time is the most valuable resource you have. It is finite and unfortunately, you cannot get it back. Productive time management skills can help you navigate life as a veteran on the job hunt.

For example, as you’re scheduling interviews, it’s important to manage your time wisely by creating time blocks on your calendar. Doing so gives you extra time to travel from one interview to the next.

Need more details? Let’s go a step further.

If you have an interview at 1:00 pm and another company wants to meet with you at 1:00 pm, arrange the interview for another day, or push it back until 3:00 pm.

You want to give yourself plenty of time to maneuver from point A to point B and take a breather before the next interview. This way, there’s a greater possibility to nail your interview and you’re less likely to experience rush and frustration as you move from one interview to the next.

Google can be your best friend when it comes to time management. Use the calendar on your phone and within your Gmail account.

The calendar will allow you to set reminders, so you don’t forget important events. The best part is that it’s easy to use and accessible all the time.

Prioritizing tasks

Military Transferable Skills List

Prioritizing your tasks is just as important as managing your time. Taking a cue from the captain mentioned above, a to-do list can keep you on top of tasks and show you what to handle next.

Prioritizing can even help you when applying for a job. Here’s a tip to help you prioritize tasks in order of importance.

Create a list of urgent vs. non-urgent responsibilities. The right now tasks should go at the top of the list or on the left side. The ones that can wait should go on the bottom or on the right side.

As you complete missions, simply put a check mark or line through the task. You’ll feel better each day knowing that you accomplished something. Seeing the tasks you complete each day will give you a sense of progress and productivity.

Making a to-do list on a daily or weekly basis will ensure you stay on track and accomplish your goals.

Organization Is Universal

Organization is a universal skill. It’s one that everyone recognizes and understands, much like the skills every career recruiter is looking for today.

However, it takes work to maintain. Self-management, time management, and prioritizing tasks should always be front and center of your life.

Don’t wait until you’re out of the military and planning a career. Master organizational skills now so you can be the best employee for your next employer. 

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

Military Transferable Skills List

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