Monday, December 27, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 3 – Create Your Job Search Strategy

An effective job search is a time consuming process that uses multiple approaches toward the target. You have already learned that an effective job search must be targeted. However, it must also be organized and strategic. Prepare your search strategy by avoiding these common mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Your job search is one-dimensional
As a military service member, chances are you have not conducted the type of search that will be necessary in today’s market. A multi-pronged attack is necessary for success. Sending resumes and cover letters in response to job postings is only one option. You must also start networking. Talk with fellow service members who are employed with your target companies to gain referrals. Inform vendors and military contractors about your transition. Participate in social networking such as LinkedIn by posting your profile.

Mistake #2 – Your job search is too general or too specific
There is no such thing as an effective general job search. If you have no target in mind, you will never achieve your goal. One of the biggest mistakes is to try to cover an entire military career’s job responsibilities in one resume. This will overwhelm an employer with information and underwhelm them in terms of your relevance to their company. Focus your efforts, highlight relevant skills, and leave out irrelevant information.

Before beginning your job search, you must research your targeted industry. Before you write a targeted resume, you need to ensure there is a market for this specialty where you want to live. Your resume and your search must be targeted. However, there has to be a market for your skills where you want to live.

Mistake #3 – You started your job search too soon or too late
Military personnel often begin to make preparations up to two years prior to retirement. However, two years – or even one year – is too soon to start applying to job openings. For federal positions, you can start applying six months prior to your separation date. For civilian positions, you can start applying three months prior to separation. Start too soon and you may knock yourself out of the running with some companies when they find out your availability.

However, don’t wait until the last minute to begin your career transition. As soon as you decide to make the transition, decide on a career target and prepare a focused resume and cover letter. These can be used for networking with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and contractors. It is never too soon to begin networking.

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