The Secret to a MIL to CIV Occupation Crosswalk.

One of the greatest pleasures in my job is to visit with family members of recruits attending basic training. A common question I ask is, “what is your recruit’s MOS?” And the majority of the time, the response is, “I have no idea, but I hope they can get a job when they get out.” They are not alone. When I joined the Marine Corps, I didn’t’ have a clue as to what a MOS stood for, let alone how it might translate to a civilian career.

The journey from Bootcamp to your honorable discharge goes quickly, and the infamous ‘MIL to CIV’ transition can be overwhelming and, more often than not, result in choosing employment that doesn’t match one’s workplace interests, values, and needs.

This article will share the difference between the traditional military-civilian crosswalk based on occupation (job titles), but instead based on one’s interest in specific activities. Regardless if you are a recruit in delayed entry or an active duty member, the journey to your future career starts now. 

The standard guidance for transitioning members is to identify an occupation matching a service member’s MOS, rating, or job specialty.

Although this method might be accurate for some, it may miss the mark for others. All occupations are made up of various attributes, such as types of tasks performed on the job, specific skills required to accomplish tasks, and an engaging environment.

For example, the Marine Corps MOS 0400, Basic Logistics, crosswalks to the civilian Cargo and Freight Agents or Production, Planning, and Expediting Clerks occupations. Although you may find a high-paying civilian equivalent position, the job maybe short-lived if you aren’t happy.

Department of Labor, 2019

Instead of comparing job title to job title look instead to the list of tasks related to both occupations. Or better yet, search for related jobs that match the types of activities you enjoy.

You can search by a variety of attributes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 370,000 unemployed veterans in 2017, 59 percent were age 25 to 54. Further, Leo Shane of MilitaryTimes explains, “roughly two-thirds of veterans are likely to leave their first post-military job within two years and 44% within the first year. And the main reasons stem from low job satisfaction, inability to match military skills to civilian, and limited opportunities for advancement” (Shane, 2018).

The key to a smooth transition is not merely to search for jobs matching your curret job title but instead translate the tasks and activities you enjoy performing professionally. 

A quick activity that might help generate some ideas on what you really enjoy doing on the job.

  • Make a list of the daily tasks you perform on the job.
  • Place a checkmark by the ones you genuinely enjoy doing and feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion.
  • Make a second list of activities you would like to do daily on the job. 
  • Finally, compare the two lists.

If you find few checkmarks on list one, you may want to evaluate your job search based on your second list. 


This process may seem overwhelming, and yes, a lot of work. However, evidenced-based assessments prove that the more a person understands their interest, values, and needs, the more likely they are going to find happiness in their job. 

Did you know 21 unique personality needs drive job happiness? Unfortunately, 75% of U.S. workers never discover jobs reinforcing their workplace needs. And guess what. They either quit, get fired, or remain less than content working in an environment offering little engagement.

Finding an occupation that reinforces one’s needs is vital to happiness.

Are you are the type of person that enjoys being productive on the job and seek to utilize your unique abilities? Then I recommend taking our free vocational preference assessments to determine where you fit in the world-of-work.  

Don’t merely settle for the traditional crosswalk based on occupation titles, but instead seek to find opportunities that match your personality and areas of expertise. You might be surprised by the number of employment opportunities that might go unnoticed. 

Tasks and activities drive the true crosswalk from the military to the civilian market. Show me a person that knows what they like to do, and I will show you a person that is happy at work.

Enjoy my free assessments today and a free 30 minute call to discuss your next steps in finding a meaning full career.

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