From MOS to CV: Translating Your Military Experience Into Employable Skills

By Brad Davis

The process of transitioning from military service to civilian employment can seem daunting to many service members. One of the biggest challenges veteran jobseekers face is transferring the skills and knowledge they gained during their military career to civilian jobs, and, in particular, translating them into traits that non-military hiring managers can understand and value. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help veterans successfully communicate and utilize the experience they gained during their service.

  • Use Translation Tools to Build Strong Resumes/CVs

Often, veterans aren’t able to adequately translate the duties of their enlisted jobs to the skills required by civilian employers. Not only do many hiring managers have difficulty understanding military terminology and protocols, it’s also easy for veterans to incorrectly discount valuable skills or assume they don’t apply to civilian careers.

To help bridge this gap, service members can use online tools to translate their MOS, AFSC, or Rating into resume-friendly language quickly and easily. These include the Skills Translator, the Hiring Our Heroes Resume Engine, and the O*NET Military Crosswalk Search.

Other similar sites, such as My Next Move for Veterans, also feature skill and interest assessments to reveal potential career paths. By using these tools, veterans can learn how to apply their experience and skills to a wide range of careers, not just those related to their military jobs.

  • Don’t Forget About Your “Soft Skills”

In addition to focusing on “hard skills”—meaning measurable, concrete, technical abilities—veterans also need to emphasize their “soft skills,” which are social and interpersonal skills, character traits, and professional attitudes that allow individuals to thrive in any role.

Some examples that apply to most service members include communication skills, discipline, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, attention to detail, adaptability, and resiliency.

Since these skills can be difficult to illustrate, veterans should demonstrate their aptitude in those areas by providing clear, concrete examples from their service on resumes and during interviews. This blog post from Novo Resume details which soft skills jobseekers should include and offers advice on incorporating them into resumes.

  • Take Advantage of Unique Education and Training Options

Veterans sometimes dismiss great career opportunities because they lack formal education or credentials. Luckily, service members have many options for applying military experience toward college credit or job training.

For example, the DOD offers the COOL program, which helps service members from every branch explore civilian careers related to their military jobs and obtain necessary credentials.

Active Duty service members with at least 180 continuous days of service can also check out another DOD program, SkillBridge, which provides employment training, internships, and apprenticeships at over 1000 companies and organizations.

Another option is to obtain a Joint Services Transcript, a document approved by the American Council on Education that enables service members to earn college credits based on military training and experiences.

Finally, some industries even waive credential or license requirements for veterans with demonstrated experience, such as the DOT’s CDL Military Skills Test Waiver program.


At PGS Worldwide, we are dedicated to serving the military community. As a Veteran Founded company, we understand and value your service experience, and will do our very best to support your transition to the civilian sector. We encourage all veterans and transitioning service members to check out our Job Listings page to help take the next step toward a new career.

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