I read resumes of military in transition all the time. Many are not going to do anything for their writers.  Perhaps you wrote your first resume ever as part of your transition program homework – an important first step in understanding resume basics.  However, in reality, you cannot write a decent resume until you actually know what you want next.

What Do You Want to Do?

What are your plans for your future?  Not just ideas, but in specific terms.  Don’t know exactly?  Answering these questions first will help you move forward more effectively. Are they easy? Not for most of us. But what of importance is?

Question 1: What are your short term and long term goals?

  • Can you describe each goal clearly and in detail?
  • What assessments and analysis of your interests, needs, and skills have you already done to shape these?
  • What options for work, education or training, and location have you looked into in detail?

Don’t forget to talk with your best peers (past and present), bosses, and family members about their ideas of your strengths and skills. Look into valid assessment tools via your transition program, college career service, or online (be careful there).

Question 2: What actual activities in past work or volunteering did you enjoy most?

So many folks think in terms of job titles or just the overall assignments they liked best. But you need to be very clear on actual work activities that you really like doing. And it helps to also analyze what you do not like. I am a ‘big picture’ person who likes to create something, try it, and adjust as needed. Administrative work bores me and it is not the work I want to do much of.

Go through your past achievements and look at what aspects of each were fun, exciting, and made your day. That’s your guide to what you really want in any future work. And, yes it is helpful to look at what you like least so that you can assess whether you ever have to do it again or can minimize it in future jobs if you do have to. Look at past efficiency reports for ideas and issues too.

Question 3: What work do you want to do next?

Have you done the research to know the answers to these questions:

  • What are the top two – three career fields which are a good fit for you? Why?
  • What type of job are you looking for first (field, level, mission)?
  • Have you identified 2-3 job titles in that field and researched their requirements versus your background? Do the same for any other field you think you want to work in.
  • What type of employer interests you most (private sector, non-profit, government)?
  • Have you identified a minimum of 25 employers who might hire you?
  • If you have geographic preferences, do you know what the job market for your field like in each?
  • Have you researched actual pay in the jobs you seek and defined a pay range you want? Can you justify it based on the value you can add immediately within the field you are interested in?

Some of this research can be done online. Look at a big job board, such as Indeed.com, for jobs which interest you and assess their duties and requirements in detail. Look at www.job-hunt.org for career guides and job search advice. Read about employers on Glassdoor.com and research them via their own websites and your network. Far too many transitioning military do not do this – and their first job is short-lived.

Find the economic development agency for any city or area which interests you and see what jobs and employers are most common there.  Talk with a reference librarian at a public library for advanced assistance in your research – often much faster than doing some of it yourself online. Too often I hear military people who have picked a specific location and moved there and then find there are no jobs in their field and seem to think it is someone else’s fault.

One way to help yourself be clear about your next job is to write out what you think the ideal job would be in detail – duties, scope of responsibility, level, function. Create that job description which also includes what you want in an employer and identifies what you need to succeed.

Remember, a resume is an advertisement for you!

It is designed solely to entice the right employer to contact you. This means you need to

  • understand the market you are targeting,
  • what employers in that market are seeking,
  • which employers are the best match for your needs, and
  • can present your past successes and achievements in terms the market seeks.

Smart preparation offers you far faster job search and better success.  Good hunting!