From Military Service to Business Leadership

Rachel Kim, BS ’16, is a Technical Recruiter at OtterBase. Kim shares her insights below about how veterans can emphasize their strengths when circulating their resumés. Two veterans featured in this article are UIC students – Brian (MBA grad) and Michael (current MBA candidate at UIC).

The skills that lead to success in the military can lead to success in business, which is why business schools, recruiters, and firms are on the lookout for veterans. Veterans on the job market enjoy the respect employers have for the unique skills you bring to the civilian workforce. But conveying those skills to employers can be a veteran’s biggest challenge.

Any civilian job hunt starts with the resumé. Below, fellow veterans have shared the portions of their resumés designed to present their military experience to civilian employers. When reflecting on your own military experience, ask yourself, “what makes a veteran a superior candidate? Why would recruiters prefer veterans to civilians?”




Michael Mlekowski is currently an MBA candidate with architectural and design experience. One thing he’s refined in business school is his 30-second elevator speech. “When you’ve practiced a pitch, and the person next to you can’t clearly describe their skills, you look like the more prepared candidate,” Mlekowski says.

Leadership skills energize workers through trust and confidence. Notice that Michael avoids military jargon wherever possible in order to underscore his leadership abilities with verbs like supervisedmanagedcreated, and mentored.


Attainable goals


Brian Bradley, MBA '16, is a business professional working in sales and marketing. His advice to veterans? Network. “Get out there and talk to people,” he encourages, “and stay connected, if only on LinkedIn, with the people you’ve met.”

Veterans have made life-and-death decisions in the face of risks that civilians never face. A veteran knows how to choose attainable goals and marshal resources and personnel. In this section of his resumé, Brian mentions the high-risk nature of his work alongside the quantifiable results, sending a message to employers about his abilities to meet objectives under extreme pressure.




Justin is a business professional in the IT field. He attended a Google Resumé Workshop for veterans, joined a veteran organization at his school, and connected with veterans on LinkedIn via groups like the Veteran Mentor Network. He encourages all veterans to make use of resources like these.

Justin’s tenacity reflects his perseverance through adversity when completing tasks. Justin emphasizes his tenacity by starting strong with the word “promoted,” implying his exceptional perseverance through 50 successful SEAL projects, and follows this by including the size of the team he went on to lead–30 people, sure to impress employers.




David is a Global Marketing Manager in the Chicago area. “I remember how scared I was to leave the military,” David says, “but I discovered that the skills I developed there were perfect for civilian work. I hope that by sharing my experience I can ease the stress of other veterans who are nervous about the transition.”

Diligence means a consistent level of excellence. On his resumé, David represents his diligence both by his Senior Sailor recognition and by telling us that he was asked to train and develop a new workflow system. These details, along with the data in the fourth bulletpoint, tell employers that David can raise the bar for staff performance.




Edgar continues his military service while also working as an Immigration Support Specialist and preparing for the LSAT. “To prepare for an interview, practice making connections from your military skills to the skills and requirements of the job,” says Edgar. “Spare yourself an awkward silence when interviewers ask how you’ll expand your military experience.”

Too many civilian workers communicate ineffectively. Edgar highlights his communication skills by mentioning his translating work, his work with confidential information – a very sensitive form of communication – and his supervisory and educational work, which demands only the clearest communication.




Jameson also continues his service for the military, and also serves as CEO of a small Chicago business. He recommends that all veterans seeking work should reach out to military placing firms and recruiting companies.

Working under inflexible deadlines in the military teaches you to target priorities and complete tasks efficiently. Jameson’s message in his resumé is simple and direct: he managed a large volume of assets, a large crew of personnel, and coordinated a number of support exercises in which the stakes are higher and the deadlines less flexible than anything civilians face in the business world.


Veterans must remember that their military experience equips them with abilities that no civilian applicant can bring to the workplace. When thinking about the next step in your career, think about the steps you’ve already taken, and how the challenges you’ve faced have prepared you to face any challenge of the business world.

“At Kraft Heinz, we love to hire veterans because they possess the same skills we value as a company. We look for leaders who can drive results and who are committed to achieving a common goal. Kraft Heinz recently launched an internal Military Veteran Business Resource Group, which is an employee community of veterans who help develop, recruit and attract more veterans to our Company.” – Tim Mote, Head of Talent Acquisition, Kraft Heinz Company


For help perfecting your resumé, contact the Business Career Center at UIC Business.

For more information about Rachel Kim, visit her website.