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Embracing Transferable Skills

December 1, 2023

For Canadian Veterans, transitioning from a life of service in the military to civilian work can sometimes be a daunting prospect. The familiarity of the military environment, its language, and its protocols can seem like a world apart from the requirements of the civilian job market. At Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services (PCVRS), we understand the challenges of this transition. Our mission is to support Canadian Veterans by helping them recognize and leverage their unique transferable skills for a successful transition to civilian employment.

Understanding the Distinction: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Before diving into transferable skills, it's important to know the difference between hard and soft skills. Hard skills are specific technical skills acquired through training and experience. On the other hand, soft skills encompass the personal attributes and ways we deal with people that shape how we approach our work and interact with others.

These skills together form a comprehensive skill set that can be used effectively in a variety of professional settings. Recognizing a Veteran’s unique combination of hard and soft skills is key to unlocking the full potential of their professional capabilities in the civilian world.

The transition from military to civilian life is more than just a change in environment; it's a total shift in perspective. If Veterans believe their skill sets are specific to their military roles, they may overlook the wide array of transferable skills they can seamlessly apply to various civilian professions. These skills encompass leadership, discipline, problem-solving, adaptability, and teamwork, among others.

Applying Leadership and Teamwork:

One of the most prominent transferable skills that Veterans possess is exceptional leadership. Whether it's leading military members or overseeing critical missions, Veterans understand the essence of effective leadership in challenging situations. This leadership experience is invaluable in various civilian roles, ranging from project management to executive positions.

The ability to work well with others in the military is a skill that seamlessly translates into the corporate world. The ability to collaborate, communicate, and work effectively in diverse teams is highly sought after by employers across various industries.

Military life often demands adaptability in dynamic and unpredictable environments. Veterans are well-versed in handling unforeseen challenges, making quick decisions, and adapting to rapidly changing situations. These skills are transferrable to roles that require quick thinking, strategic planning, and the ability to thrive in fast-paced environments.

Additionally, the ability to solve complex problems efficiently is another core competency instilled during military service. Whether it's devising tactical plans or mitigating risks in high-pressure situations, Veterans possess a unique problem-solving ability that is adaptable to civilian professions, such as logistics, engineering, or cybersecurity.

Exploring Transferable Skills Through Real-life Examples:

Kelly, the Infanteer:

Kelly, a recently retired Sergeant with 14 years of service in the Infantry, initially found the transition to civilian life overwhelming. However, by understanding her transferable skills, Kelly realized that her expertise in navigation and ability to work well in demanding weather conditions could be applied to roles in mail delivery or security. Furthermore, her leadership and quick decision-making skills opened possibilities for supervisory roles in various industries.

Sawyer, the Aviation Systems Technician:

Corporal Sawyer's experience as an Aviation Systems Technician in the Air Force equipped them with specialized training and skills that extend beyond the military environment. Despite initial uncertainties, Sawyer found their technical expertise in electrical mechanics and maintenance is highly transferable to roles in avionics, heavy industrial machinery, and transportation equipment sectors.

Surbhi, the Training Development Officer:

Surbhi's twenty years of experience as a Training Development Officer at DND headquarters equipped her with a diverse skill set, including proficiency in policy and protocol writing, instructional software, and project management. Recognizing her strengths in research, instruction, and leadership, Surbhi explored various job avenues in the fields of education, government policy, and human resources.

Exploring Transferable Skills Through Real-life Examples:

At PCVRS, we know how important it is to give Veterans the necessary resources and support to help make their transition successful. Our Rehabilitation Service Specialists are committed to supporting Veterans as they find the civilian career that best fits their transferable skills and interests. Participants receiving vocational rehabilitation from PCVRS get assistance identifying the skills, training, job opportunities and other requirements needed to achieve their career goals. Visit the PCVRS website to learn how the Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program supports Veterans in their post-military job search.

Embracing transferable skills is pivotal for Canadian Veterans embarking on a new chapter in their professional lives. By understanding the distinctions between hard and soft skills and recognizing their diverse skill sets, Veterans can confidently navigate the civilian job market and find fulfilling careers that value their unique expertise. PCVRS remains committed to supporting Veterans on this journey, providing them with the guidance and resources needed to thrive in their post-military endeavors.

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Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program
5th Floor 915 Fort Street
Victoria, BC V8V 3K3

Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program

In cooperation with Veteran Affairs Canada.