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Transitioning Military? Follow These 7 Steps to get the Job Search Moving in the Right Direction.

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1. Don’t wait until TAP classes come – You should get started on your search no later than six months out from your End of Active Service (EAS). Just make sure to note your EAS date on your cover letters, profiles, etc.

2. Invest in your resume – Take your time writing your resume. List everything important or related. If you are applying to multiple career fields, have multiple copies of your resume. Incorporate your research from your Job Search Focus (#4) in those resumes. This may sound like a lot of work (and it is) but this is a must. Your resume is your #1 sales document, if a hiring manager is looking for a Project Manager and your resume doesn’t list your Project Manager experience until midway through page two, then most likely the hiring manager won’t even get to page two. Lastly, reconsider hiring someone to write your resume! It’s a lot of work, but you should do it. This will ensure your resume reflects you and your interests.

3. Have a cover letter – If your resume is your sales document then your cover letter is your brochure. Spend time on each cover letter you write. Make sure each cover letter covers three things: (1) How you heard about the job and what job you’re applying for, (2) Why you are the most qualified for the position,  (3) When and how you will follow up. You can set your cover letter apart from all the others by incorporating company specific information such as addressing it to the hiring manager, names of clients they work with or for, and also by conveying a tone of genuine excitement about the position (nothing cheesy).

4. Focus your search – Transitioning Military members often have a broad array of experiences and coming off of active duty are happy with any employment. This approach can lead to an unfocused job hunt where the military member just sends resume after resume to numerous potential employers. Focus your job search by first narrowing down the industries and positions in which you would like to work, and then the companies you would like to work for.

A good rule of thumb is to concentrate on ten jobs at once. Write a list of your ten dream industries and positions. Review the list with a loved  to determine which jobs you would really love and which ones you could just cope with. Take the dream jobs and start researching employers in those fields.

Once you’ve developed the list of ten, start researching the companies. Learn as much as you can and be sure to reflect that knowledge in your cover letter and resume by using their terminology (if they refer to “Marksmanship Instructors” as “shooting coaches” change your resume to reflect). Concentrate on ten employers/positions at once, but update the list and add/subtract new companies as needed.

5. Plan and budget your time – For your job search to be successful you will need to devote time to it. But spending too much time can be counterproductive and will only serve to discourage you quickly. Set time aside daily, no more than an hour a day to carry out your job search. If you’re having trouble finding time, this approach typically works best first thing in the morning. This will allow you to get started before anyone else is up and before you have the day’s activities on your mind. Spend at least one day a week writing out your plan for the rest of the week.  Plan your contacts, your calls and your follow ups. Make sure you stick to your plan.

6. Improve your credentials now – If you are considering a position in let’s say Project Management, look at what certifications are required on the civilian side and start pursuing them. The military offers several online classes which can help toward credentials. Course such as those offered on AKO, MCI, and DAU all offer free courses which carry weight in the civilian sector.

For enlisted the number one issue that comes up is a college degree. Having one can’t possibly hurt so my recommendation is to get started now. This cannot be overstated. Once you enroll and begin taking classes you can and should reflect it on your resume, something to the effect of “BS, Temple University, expected 08/2013”. Just enrolling will set you miles apart!


  1. AJ Selvey

    October 26, 2011

    Additional resource for Transitioning Military…


    Veterans.jobs uses the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Crosswalk to assist military personnel in transitioning from active duty to employment opportunities in the civilian workforce.

    Best of luck in your search and Thank You for your service!

  2. Jon C Sosa

    October 26, 2011

    Outstanding – I wish I had know about this website before. I could have contributed. Please make sure your Vets know that a resume is only 20% of getting a job. A Marine is already in the top 1% of society in many ways, there is no reason they should not have at least one job waiting for them when they return from duty. Please call on me for any help. JC Sosa

  3. Glen Sutch

    October 27, 2011

    Great start Jason. This is a great tool for vets to serve vets and their families.

    Your words are wise, TAP, TURBO-TAP, Welcome Home Programs, and many more organizations and sites are there to help, but the difficulty for most seems to be making wise use of time, and setting goals early in their military career that will serve to shape their future in and out of service. College, good words. Start in the service. If you’re getting out in the near future, most of us are never more ready for college (except possibly financially: which is an entire blog of its own) than at the time of separation. Even the financial can be overcome with some research and diligence.

    If you’re in now, use your time wisely. If you are transitioning, or out, there are resources to help. Wherever you go, I recommend you start at your County Veterans Services Office. See what state and federal benefits and programs you may have forgotten, or never learned about. That office will likely have all the skinny on resources and services to launch you into your own unlimited future. Another resource might be the Small Business Administration SCORE Program or the VA VetBiz.gov site, if you are of the independent persuasion and want to strike out on your own.


  4. Don Harkness

    October 29, 2011

    I’m a recruiter, been a job hunter, in prior life a hiring manager, and of course prior to that a Marine. Good organized thinking. I suggest you also look into the Marines for Life program. Google it for website & info. Great program & there should be a unit near you. It also will plug you into compatible programs on it’s main site. I’m in the Houston area and always glad to help Don

  5. Ashley Rose

    November 8, 2011

    This job searching with social media infographic was shared by TheLadders on Twitter and originally posted by Alltop. Happy Hunting!

  6. Debbie Gregory

    December 6, 2011

    Remember that employers can receive tax credits of up to $9,600 for hiring Veterans. College, vocational schools and certificate programs are another option to leverage when the economy improves including tax free living expenses under Post 9/11 GI Bill.