Every branch has their own unique transition program with its own creative acronym. I like to refer to them all as “civilian qualification,” or civqual. Essentially, they all do the same thing: provide departing service members with the tools needed to re-integrate into civilian life and succeed. It would be nothing short of a miracle for this weeklong process to deliver on its mission in a perfect world—and a perfect world this is not.
The problem with civqual is that it applies broad brush strokes to a series of issues that are nuanced and very individualistic. Transferable skills and educational and employment opportunities are extremely sensitive to a litany of variables. It is likely for this reason that an inordinate amount of time is spent on résumé preparation. This is viewed as something that everyone will have to do despite the common reference to the “hidden job market” where over 60% of hiring occurs. Yet the intangibles, or “soft skills” that are required to navigate any meaningful human interaction, are rarely recognized properly.
Whether you have just completed civqual, or it has become ancient history, there is something that can be taken away from military service to help with civilian success. This is something that has been said an immeasurable number of times and I am sure everyone who reads this has heard it: “brilliance in the basics.” If there was ever a hall of fame for military clichés, this would surely have been inducted years ago. But before you roll your eyes so hard that you fall out of your chair, just hear me out.
Everyone on the job knows which people are the ones that show up late, or develop mystery illnesses when work gets tough, or cut corners, or—worst of all—allow their laziness to create more work for someone else. The easiest way possible to differentiate yourself from these types is to make sure you hold yourself to a similar standard as you learned in the military. Be on time, keep your areas squared away, maintain your health and appearance, and apply yourself. Believe it or not, these are all intangible skills that are extremely sought after in the workforce.
A 2016 survey by LinkedIn showed that among the top soft-skills that employers looked for were: organization, teamwork, and punctuality. These are all things that are well within your control. Moreover, military service will have exposed you to all of these skills and typically to a degree far greater than those who have not served. Ironically, résumé writing fell towards the bottom of the list.
Real civqual is not a weeklong seminar. It is a continuous process and it is up to the individual to manage expectations and outcomes. Similarly, brilliance in the basics is not a recipe for success, it is the foundation upon which success is built. It takes effort, perseverance, and the adherence to a standard. You want to improve you civqual score? Set a standard for yourself and make sure you add points every day.