You have seen the articles about the lack of certain skills in employees and companies concerns about not being able to find people with critical skills.  Many of these are so-called ‘soft skills.’  You may not think of it at first but when it comes to many highly-valued and highly-sought-after “soft skills”, most members of the military have a definite advantage.

How Veterans Can Get and Retain Good Jobs

In surveys, medium-to-large corporations clearly describe the needs they have for certain skills. Many are worried about the lack of US students pursuing degrees in math and science areas. If you are interested in a new degree or certifications, think about the STEM fields first.

All were very concerned about the lack of “soft skills” – for people in all sorts of jobs. Technical skills and knowledge are important.  The ability to work well within the organization and to communicate effectively are even more difficult to find. It is most often these skills which lead into higher level roles and career success, whether in management or technical specialties.

What does this mean to you?

There are always going to be jobs for people who can interact with and understand the customer or who have the ability to work with other people effectively. Those who can do these functions across different cultures are increasingly valuable in global operations for almost all companies.

These are skills almost every military person has learned and can demonstrate on their resume and in interviews. You are likely to have had training in many of these plus work assignments where you had to use such skills regularly.

Here is a short list of common competencies needed in many types of jobs. You can find a range of such lists online or create your own. But get started by using this as a checklist.

  • Customer Service – understands and meets “customer” needs. (Customers are also any of the people who need your work to do theirs or achieve unit goals, not just those buying something.)
  • Interpersonal Skills – works/interacts with a diverse range of people effectively
  • Planning – plans and organizes own (and/or others’) work to meet requirements
  • Written communications – writes clearly, identifies critical information needed, and presents it to achieve desired goals
  • Oral communications – speaks clearly and effectively, tailors message to audience needs to achieve understanding, presents well to groups.
  • Listening skills – listens intently to understand others’ ideas and views
  • Integrity – recognized for positive ethical approach, behaves consistently within values
  • Collaborative– cooperative, respectful, rapidly works well with others to achieve goals
  • Initiative – self-starter, makes good suggestions
  • Flexibility – deals with change or ambiguity without increasing stress or creating additional problems
  • Problem-solving – effectively assesses root causes and resolves problems
  • Coping skills – handles difficult situations and people effectively
  • Teamwork– works well with others to achieve desired results
  • Leadership – encourages others to achieve, creates effective teams, inspires others to do their best.
  • Conflict resolution – able to identify underlying problem and resolve at lowest level possible, reaches out to others involved, offers solutions for differences.

Create Your Soft Skills Analysis

1. First rate yourself on each of the skills above, adding any others your research indicates are important in your field. Identify the top few you are best at and a few more that you also enjoy and are also good at.

2. For each area where you have very good to excellent skills, develop a “success story.” This achievement should STAR you by showing the skill within the context of the:

  • situation or task,
  • actions you took, and
  • results.

Write each of these successes out in detail and then polish them into a real story of your achievements.

One such “success story” can often serve as a demonstration of many possible soft skills. You will find that each could answer questions in several areas in interviews too.

  • Here is an example which demonstrates Planning AND Problem-solving AND Communications skills. This becomes a great resume bullet and the answer to a variety of questions in an interview.
  • * Problem-solving. Selected to provide on-the-job safety training to newly assigned staff. Facilitated small groups to define existing safety issues; created checklists for critical issues and actions; trained individuals and work groups in checklist use; which resulted in sustained drop to lowest rate of accidents and safety issues in unit within record.

Once you have looked at the skills checklist and assessed your best, then see how they relate to jobs which interest you. Look at position descriptions and job ads in your targeted field via a major job board to find the most relevant ones. Include these in your resume. When you are ready to target specific employers, check out their job listings and career info as well as values and goals on their website. Then tailor your resume to those soft skills they most commonly mention.

Don’t waste space on your resume listing these skills! Far too many people do that – and many hiring managers and recruiters ignore such lists. Instead demonstrate each specifically with achievements to put on your resume and social media profiles.

Bottom Line

None of us is ever “too good” at most soft skills. But, your military experience gives you more such critical skills and ways to demonstrate them than most civilians at the same stage of their career. Use soft skills effectively to enhance your resume, to interview well, and land the job you seek!