Your Secondary MOS Was Project Management!

And it is extremely valuable in the CIVDIV!

But many of us either 1. don’t know it was our secondary MOS, or B. don’t know the lexicon of the MOS, i.e. the words and concepts, of it.

Therefore, we don’t talk about it, and thus civilian hiring managers and recruiters don’t know we have this experience. They value. Highly. Ouch.

This article will help you overcome this challenge.


While we’re serving in the Military, Members, Veterans and Retirees, i.e. “Veterans”, perform the four functions of management. We:

  1. Create objective-based plans;

  2. Organize the resources necessary to execute our plans;

  3. Lead and direct the human resources performing the plans;

  4. Control the performance and plan to ensure we hit the objectives.

However, we usually don’t talk about it in this manner. It usually comes out as “leadership” and in the language of our military occupational specialty (i.e. our job while in uniform, which is sometimes also called Rate, Code, or Branch); arms, armor, aviation, healthcare, public relations, maintenance, etc. Since many civilian hiring managers and recruiters will not understand what we’re saying when we speak like this, it is difficult for them to value what we’re saying.

They don’t see the message’s meaning, and therefore they don’t act on it by hiring us to manage their people, processes (i.e. Operations), or projects.

However, they clearly understand the value of project management and project managers, and they recognize you right off the bat when you speak like one! The way you speak distinguishes you to them, just like when you listen to your doctor, accountant, or attorney. You know which type of professional you’re engaged with immediately by their speech, the words they use, their professional lexicon.

Below is an effective way to learn to talk to civilian hiring managers and recruiters about your extremely valuable secondary military specialty: project management!


Regardless of your specialty, once you achieved a high enough rank to be responsible for planning, resourcing, leading, controlling, and documenting and briefing out missions (doing) and exercises (training), you were doing project management! The field manual of project management in the CIVDIV is called A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), and it defines a project as any temporary endeavor undertaken to deliver a unique product, good, service, result, or capability. Since each mission and exercise you delivered had a Commander’s Intent (expectation of a product, good, service, result, or capability) and a suspense date (i.e. a required completion date), each one was a project. You had a secondary MOS!

One that is highly valued in the CIVDIV too!

Here’s how you talk about your military experience in the language of your secondary MOS; project management.

Step 1. Look at the following array of statements:

1.      Initiating (IN): This group of processes helps us define the project scope and obtain approval from stakeholders.

1.1.   Perform project assessment;

1.2.   Define the high-level scope of the project;

1.3.   Perform key stakeholder analysis;

1.4.   Identify and document high-level risks, assumptions, and constraints;

1.5.   Develop and obtain approval for the project charter.

 2.      Planning (PL): This group of processes helps us prepare the project plan and develop the work breakdown structure (WBS).

2.1.   Assess detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders;

2.2.   Create the work breakdown structure;

2.3.   Develop a project schedule;

2.4.   Develop budget, human resource management, communication, procurement, quality and change management, and risk management plans;

2.5.   Present the project plan to key stakeholders;

2.6.   Conduct a project kick-off meeting.

 3.      Executing (EX): This group of processes helps us manage and perform the work necessary to achieve the stated objectives of the project.

3.1.   Obtain and manage project resources;

3.2.   Lead and direct the execution the tasks as defined in the project plan;

3.3.   Implement the quality management plan;

3.4.   Implement approved changes according to the change management plan;

3.5.   Implement approved actions by following the risk management plan;

3.6.   Maximize team performance.

 4.      Monitoring and Controlling (MC): This group of processes helps us monitor project progress, manage change and risk, and communicate project status.

4.1.   Measure project performance using appropriate tools and techniques;

4.2.   Manage changes to the project scope, schedule, and costs;

4.3.   Ensure that project deliverables conform to the quality standards;

4.4.   Update the risk register and risk response plan;

4.5.   Assess corrective actions on the issue register;

4.6.   Communicate project status to stakeholders.

 5.      Closing (CL): This group of processes helps us finalize all project activities, archive all project documents, obtain acceptance for deliverables, and communicate project closure.

5.1.   Obtain final acceptance of the project deliverables;

5.2.   Transfer the ownership of deliverables;

5.3.   Obtain financial, legal, and administrative closure;

5.4.   Distribute the final project report;

5.5.   Collate lessons learned;

5.6.   Archive project documents and materials;

5.7.   Measure customer satisfaction.

Step 2. Now think about how you planned these activities, led those carrying out these activities, controlled these activities while they were being performed, knew when these activities were complete, and moved on to the next activity to deliver the mission or exercise at hand.

What resources did you need? What constraints such as time, or cost, or risk, or resource/skills shortages did you face?

Step 3. For each mission or exercise you led (i.e. planned, resourced, led, and controlled) during your time in service, select 1 statement from each Group above and write it down. When you you are finished, you’ll have a mission or exercise translated into a commercially viable, highly valuable project summary you can use on your PMP Exam application, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and in your interviews!


Here are four extremely familiar examples for Veterans that illustrate what we’ve just discussed. Each summary was accepted on Veterans’ applications to sit for the PMP examination. They’re vetted.

1. Weapons qualification event: Obtained approval of Combat Marksmanship training event for USMC platoon and wrote Letter of Instruction as project charter(IN). Planned procurement of ammunition and developed schedule from event date backwards (PL). Acquired Corpsman, drivers, and range personnel as Project Team Members (EX). Controlled risks through personnel monitoring and operating procedure compliance (MC). Closed project by cleaning up range; returning radios, arms, and vehicles; documenting shooter performance; and briefing the platoon and Battalion leadership on project results (CL).

2. Unit Movement/Deployment: Planned and executed service base realignment/closure in host country to support US withdrawal. Drafted charter, obtained sponsor approval and stakeholder acceptance (IN). Developed 200+ node network to determine schedule, dependencies, decision points, resource requirements and risks (PL). Developed tasks (WBS) for all agencies/base residents and statements of work for supporting contractors (EX). Updated plan through progressive elaboration as political, environmental and available resources evolved (MC). Filed project archives for future use (CL).

3. Command Inspection: Developed charter for approval, to include inspection scope, reason, inspector(s), and inspected units (IN). Defined scope by identifying the date, time, and location of the command inspection, and planned inspection of which units/elements/equipment when (PL). Managed stakeholders’ expectations through frequent communication with several key personnel during the planning and execution (EX). Controlled water, chow, and personnel formations, documented deficiencies during the inspection, and took corrective actions (MC). BriefedCommander on final results and Way Ahead (CL).

4. Military Retirement: The purpose of this project was to map the Military Retirement process. Obtained approval from sponsor (IN). Created project schedule by scheduling all appointments (PL). Conducted all rehearsals for the retirement ceremony and attended the pre-retirement seminar, VA counseling, final dental and medical appointments (EX). Monitored and controlled ceremony’s timelines and sequences against plan (MC). Inspected and validated household goods packing and delivery. Signed my DD-214 and all documentation to signify acceptance of project phase closure (CL).




Eric is a decorated two-Service, two-Era US Military Veteran; Serial Founder; experienced, credentialed project manager and PMI Chapter-recognized mentor; and an entertaining instructor/public speaker on project management, deep learning and the military transition, PMI’s PMP® and CAPM® exams, Vetrepreneurship; and project manager development. He helps Military Veterans change their lives profoundly through project management, entrepreneurship, and AI through inspiration, translation, training, and placement. For more information, please visit,, and

Related Post