By Lt. Col. Justin Constantine, USMC (Ret)
Many of us leave the military without spending enough time identifying what it is we want to do next - and why. On top of that, we might not focus on how the skills we learned while serving could carry over to the private sector and how they can help us succeed.
Of course, not all skills transfer equally. If you qualified for a certification or credential in a particular industry, there is an obvious and direct correlation. Beyond that, you can rely on some of the most basic lessons learned from our earliest days in service -whether that was at boot camp, officer candidate school, or an academy - to transfer across virtually every industry sector. Here are my top three transferable skills:
Project Management: I have heard some corporate leaders say all veterans are project managers because that is the nature of our business. A critical part of this is time management, which we learn from day one. Whether a drill instructor is counting down to zero or we are planning real-world missions, successfully meeting deadlines is stressed in everything we do. That same sense of urgency and demand for accountability is not taught anywhere else and remains valuable after you hang up the uniform.
Personal Leadership: We often hear our leadership skills are important, but I am taking it one step further. Whether you are a fire team leader or a division commander, you need to ensure your people have no problems with their pay, are making good decisions during liberty, are accomplishing the mission, and are doing the right things to succeed. We are good at all of this because we truly care about others around us, and we know together we can accomplish more. This mind-set is worth its weight in gold in the private sector.
Organizational management: Nature abhors a vacuum, and after our training, so do we. Officers understand the value of wire diagrams and appreciate each person's need to have specific roles and responsibilities. Empowering each other by freely delegating power and responsibility is second nature to us, but that is not necessarily a common skill outside the military.
There is a reason each service includes topics related to these on your fitness reports. They are critical to success in the vast majority of missions you will face - in uniform or business attire.
Lt. Col. Justin Constantine, USMC (Ret), is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is now a motivational speaker and veteran advocate.
This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Military Officer.