Special service

how you can help military service members discover civilian project management

By Jay Hicks, PMP

PEOPLE WHO SERVE IN THE MILITARY make big sacrifices for the good of their country—they often have to leave their families for long periods and put their lives on the line to protect us. So when it's time for military service members to transition into a civilian job, it can be our turn to help them. As project managers, we are in a unique position to do this.

The military is a highly projectized environment. And that makes many veterans ready for the civilian project management world. As in the civilian world, military missions require a sophisticated understanding of complex interrelationships from setup to completion. Whether maintaining equipment, building a temporary shelter or planning a defense, all military personnel are intimately familiar with initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing. Service members also generally have superb leadership, communication and teamwork skills.

The military is a highly projectized environment. And that makes many veterans ready for the civilian project management world.


They know how to work a multitude of simultaneous requirements, how to talk to senior managers and, above all, how to get the job done.

In other words, military men and women from countries around the world perform project management every day.

Unfortunately, most service men and women have no idea how well-suited they are for civilian project management. Despite their experience with daily military planning, executing and monitoring activities, service members often find project management methodology and terminology in civilian work environments foreign.

Yet with an understanding of project management concepts commonly used by a corporate or government team, military service members can transition smoothly and successfully to this career field. They need the confidence to know that their military experience has prepared them for professional project management. And military service members need to be able to translate, repackage and certify their skills so hiring managers can spot them.

A great way to achieve all this is through networking. After realizing they've been performing project management for years, service members will feel empowered to translate their skills into a certification and explain the value of their experiences to civilian hiring managers.

Unfortunately, transitioning service members are often unaware of their local project management community. PMI has been working to raise awareness of project management opportunities among military veterans, but you can help too.

Chances are you know veterans or military members. Seek them out and engage them, keeping two points in mind. First, understand that military service members want your help. They want to know that they can be successful as a civilian project manager.

Second, know that you are an enabler. You now understand the close kinship between military operations and project management. When you have the opportunity, discuss the alignment of project management with their military service. You will be amazed with service members’ level of understanding and interest in learning the methodologies of project management outside of the military.

Stepping up to provide this support will be of tremendous service to these young men and women: It will encourage them to pursue the field of project management and obtain the necessary credentials. Your efforts can empower service men and women to find high-quality jobs after their military service. Helping transitioning service members get hired is a way of thanking them for protecting us. PM

img Jay Hicks, PMP, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, co-author of The Transitioning Military Series and co-owner of GR8Transitions4U.




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