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Finding Your Fit in the Civilian World

By Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh,
authors of Building Your Career Transition Strategy


Any time you make a career change, you may find it difficult to explain how the knowledge, skills, and abilities you acquired in your previous role(s) apply to a new job or field. This can be particularly challenging when you are moving from the military to a career in the civilian world.

Even though your role in the service may be comparable to a job in business, you may struggle to describe how your military skills will transfer. Terms and titles are often dissimilar even if capabilities are much alike.

How can taking CareerPlanner's free Personality Test or the Official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) help? Personality type offers service members a language in which to frame their approach to work and describe what sorts of environments bring out their best. You can search type descriptions and other materials on personality preferences to uncover key words and phrases that will help you paint a picture of the value you would bring to an organization, customer, or project.

For example, if you have a preference for Judging, let others know that you can contribute your best when you are able to devise routines, plan milestones and goals, and provide organization and structure. Explain that you value schedules, order, and decisiveness at work.

If, on the other hand, you have a preference for Perceiving, let others know that you can contribute your best when you are able to respond to new information, flex to meet changing demands, and handle unexpected opportunities as they arise. Explain that you value freedom, adaptability, and openness at work.

Describing who you are and the special talents you offer can be tricky. Knowing about your personality type provides a language to help bridge the gap between service and civilian life. Realizing that what you can contribute flows from your personal style can also help you overcome the service person's natural tendency toward modesty and understatement. Remember, you are not bragging; you are simply helping potential employers determine fit by describing your style.

You can learn more on the topic of personality type and reintegration from Building Your Career Transition Strategy: A Framework for Managing the Reintegration Process. This guidebook is intended for anyone facing the career and life transitions required by reintegration.

Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh are experts with more than twenty-five year's experience in the application of personality type. You can contact them at


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