Boost Your Potential
Once you have honed your ideas about the kinds of jobs or career you want to pursue, boost your potential to land those opportunities by doing some further preparation.
Research potential employers and job openings
By beginning this research nine to 12 months before exiting the military, you can accomplish more than identifying some companies to target in your job search. You can develop a deeper understanding of the types of job opportunities that exist in your chosen career path and the skills that employers are seeking in applicants. With that knowledge and nearly a year of military service remaining, you can augment your skills and hone your resume to improve your chances to land the job you really want.
The Internet, of course, provides tons of information about employers – including information on company websites, LinkedIn pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels and other social media. Check out articles about those employers in industry publications or commentary about them on career sites, such as monster.com.
Also consider doing some face-to-face research. Try to arrange an informational interview with an individual who is currently doing the type of work you are seeking with an employer that you are interested in. An informational interview is not a job interview. Rather, it is a discussion to learn more about that job/career. Topics discussed could include:
- What does a typical work day look like
- The person’s range of activities, projects and responsibilities
- Main skills, education and experience that the company looks for in this type of employee
- How appropriate are your abilities and resume to this type of job
- The need and opportunities for ongoing education
- Opportunities to advance this career in the company and the industry
- Current job prospects in the company and industry
- Suggested ways to find jobs in the field
- Recommendations of other people you could talk to
Connecting with an individual for an informational interview takes some effort. But some targeted networking can lead you to those interviews. That networking can also provide you with job leads, market intelligence, career advice and personal connections that can help you throughout your career. For more information, go to Build Your Network.
Enhance Your Skills
Your research into career options, job openings and potential employers may reveal some areas where you could benefit from some additional training, certifications or other job skills. By starting to plan your civilian career nine to 12 months before leaving military service, you can lay plans to enhance those skills (possibly even before you transition out) and boost your ability to land the civilian job you desire. Some steps that can assist this process include:
- Identify training programs that will provide you with exactly the skills you seek. You may even find some colleges/universities provide some low-cost or no-cost courses to transitioning military and veterans.
- If your future career plans hinge on using professional certifications that you earned in the military (such as heavy equipment operator or medical technician), find out how to transfer those certifications for use as a civilian. Some states readily accept some military certifications. But in some states and for some certifications, you may need to provide background documentation, complete proficiency tests or meet other standards. Your TAP advisor or the state department of labor can provide details.
- Consider doing an internship. Service men and women can participate in unpaid internships while still in uniform and many employers offer short internships to transitioning military. It can be an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to your chosen civilian career, enhance your skills, build your network and possibly even set the stage for a job offer.