Friday, December 17, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 1 – Find a Focus

Whether you have served four years or dedicated your entire career towards service in the military, you may face some obstacles in your transition. Over the next five weeks, I will tackle some of the issues you will face and provide you with five steps you should take in order to expedite the transition process.

This first step is very important; it will determine the effectiveness of your military transition. In order to get results, a job search and a resume must have a target or focus. One of the biggest errors made on military transition resumes is a lack of focus. There is no such thing as an effective generic resume. A resume that tries to appeal to everyone ends up appealing to no one.

Military personnel learn a wide variety of skills and often have countless additional duties on top of their duty title. It would be nearly impossible and certainly ineffective to fit all your previous military experience into one resume. Studies show that the reader affords your resume 10 to 15 seconds of attention. The reader will not sift through all the irrelevant information to get to the most compelling information. Your relevant, transferable skills must be easy to find, not buried among the unimportant information.

For example, a jet engine craftsman whose focus is contract and finance management will never be effective in their search with a resume that focuses on jet engine maintenance. In addition to mechanical knowledge, this candidate has project management, customer service, budget planning and allocation, documentation management, and supervisory experience. Their mechanical knowledge has no place on their resume, as it is irrelevant to the target employer.

Before beginning your transition, determine the career field you will pursue and identify the local companies that have jobs. Discover what qualifications and education you need and define your transferable qualifications. Some research resources are the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook ( and the Department of Labor’s O*NET site (

Making the decision to target your job search will enable you to eliminate irrelevant information from your resume and accelerate your job search. This may mean leaving out some skills and experience or possibly having multiple resumes targeted to different careers.

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