If you are a member of the U.S. military, your post-service job search will be much different than any civilian’s.
Even within the military, you have varying circumstances that may face you. Perhaps you’ve spent most of your adult life serving your country and an obligatory retirement looms on the horizon. Or, as a member of the National Guard, you return to the United States after a year-long overseas deployment only to find that your job no longer exists. Or, you hold the title of Navy Surface Warfare Officer and find that you’d like to try something other than piloting ships for the remainder of your career.
In each of these scenarios, one question universally applies: “Now what?” I recommend the following steps to transitioning military job seekers looking to make the most of their career searches:
Step 1: Weed out the military jargon.
A chief concern of many transitioning military job seekers is putting military experience into civilian terms in order to adequately market their talents. Civilians don’t necessarily understand what a Non-Commissioned Officer is or the importance of managing a squadron munitions account.
“Translating” your military experience can be daunting so don’t go it alone. The Occupational Information Network (O*Net) program is the nation’s primary database of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. Visit the O*Net Resource Center’s homepage at www.onetcenter.org. The O*Net website allows you to search occupations by keyword, high growth industries, and more. Pinpoint the civilian job title that most closely matches your military experience and target your job search. The site not only breaks down your experience into terms civilians can understand (always avoid using military jargon and acronyms with civilian hiring authorities), it also provides insight into the skills they are actually looking for. This is part of the service we provide at www.MilitaryResumes.com for military job seekers who chose to have their military resume professionally written when they don’t have time to do this research themselves
Step 2: You have a great resume – now use it!
Customize a detailed plan for yourself that incorporates diverse job search strategies. If you are out of work, you should be dedicating at least 50 hours per week to your job search. For a 50-hour week, you might spend 30% on networking, 30% on federal jobs, 20% on job fairs, 10% on search firms, and 10% on Internet searches and target marketing. These percentages may breakdown as follows:
• 15 hours spent on networking (reaching out to 10 new contacts referred by your network, establishing 5 new contacts on your own, communicating through sites such as LinkedIn, volunteering, etc.).
• 15 hours spent on federal jobs (determining your special hiring privileges as a veteran, building a federal resume, researching agencies and postings, targeting your resume with the keywords appropriate to each job announcement of interest, writing the required KSAs, following up, etc.). Some certified resume writers specialize in military resumes, and they also have experience in military to federal resumes and KSAs (such as at my company).
• 10 hours spent on job fairs (researching to find military job fairs, companies in attendance and preparing accordingly, traveling, etc.) (see #3 below)
• 5 hours spent on no-cost military search firms (see #3 below)
• 5 hours spent on Internet searches and target marketing (submitting 25 resumes online, following-up with calls/letters from the previous week, etc.).
For maximum results, break each weekly total into a day-by-day action plan. Track your civilian contacts, military networking relationships and professional outreach with some type of contact manager / spreadsheet, or use www.jibberjobber.com to organize your job search and track professional relationships.
Step 3: Enlist help from the military transition experts.
Use as many free job search resources as possible to assist with finding a new career. In addition to the services offered on base TAP / ACAP centers, there are many job boards, placement agencies and job fairs that cater to the military service member, again, providing job search services free of charge. Take advantage of as many of these as possible (two of these companies, Bradley-Morris, Inc. and www.CivilianJobs.com sponsor my www.MilitarytoCivilian.com blog).