As you anticipate leaving military service and entering corporate (or Federal) America, you need a portfolio of job search tools to aide you through the process.
Choose the tools that will best suit your job search path and your career history.
Social media is a requirement for most jobs. In particular, LinkedIn is a necessity for professional networking and public confirmation of the "facts" job seekers include on their resumes.
A complete LinkedIn profile takes some time to create. Once your profile meets LinkedIn's requirements, you become much more visible to recruiters and prosptective employers. Participate in appropriate LinkedIn Groups for your target job and employers. Stay visible and active on LinkedIn.
Job Search Documents
Documents are usually the first step in the formal job application process. These are the documents typically needed at various points in the process.
Military Conversion Resume (presentation / hard copy version)
A resume is a short summary of your career history and may include a profile, areas of expertise, and a chronology of your work progression dotted with specific, noteworthy achievements and projects.
Typically, your resume is the first encounter a potential employer has regarding your career history and background—it is a first impression and usually precedes YOU—so it needs to be high quality and rather compelling.
And for military making the transition to corporate, it needs to be translated into corporate speak.
A curriculum vita or CV is a longer version of a resume, usually used by medical professionals or those in academia. CVs can be quite lengthy and include education, degrees, publications, and speaking engagements.
In today’s world of technology, you need a presentation / hard copy version of your resume to send as a Word attachment, and for networking and interviewing; and a text version, void of formatting enhancements for use on online job boards and company websites.
Covering letters introduce you to the potential employer or recruiter; and express your intent for the position for which you are applying. You may need a suite of covering letters: respond to an ad, send to a recruiter (this type of letter may also include your salary requirements), broadcast letter (sent to employers to generate interest, without a resume), and networking letter (sent to colleagues and friends telling them that you are seeking new employment).
Thank You Letter
Some statistics indicate that only 5% of job seekers send Thank You Letters after an interview. Thank you letters express your gratitude for an employer taking the time to interview you, provide you with a final opportunity to add a bullet or two of information you took away from the interview—how you can fix their problem, and reiterate your interest in the position for which you interviewed.
Most every employer will want to speak to someone who can attest to your skills, abilities, character, integrity, and ethics. Employers are also looking to verify career progression, dates on a resume, education, and licenses or certificates. If your reference list is in order, containing the name, address, phone (and time zone), email, and association of 3-7 references, you can often speed the offer process, by leaving your list with the recruiter or employing manager before you complete an interview.
Tip: Because you move often and change supervisors often, maintain a list of supervisor’s names and email addresses—so you do not lose contact with important potential references. Send these people a quick email annually to keep in touch and update contact information.
Many military members elect to apply for Federal employment (and use the Veteran Preference Points they earned while serving in the military). You need to determine which Federal Agency you will apply at, and then craft a Federally formatted resume (some are hard copy and some are text files for use on such Federal sites as www.usajobs.opm.gov or www.cpol.army.mil.
Federal resumes are different from corporate resumes as they contain federally required information and special formatting; they include supervisor’s names and phone numbers, social security number, salary, and other specifics. Many are restricted by page length or character length.
Knowledge Skills and Abilities (KSA) Statements
If you apply for a Federal job, your application package may require KSA essays—essay statements in response to specific questions. KSAs need to be formatted in the CCAR format (Context, Challenge, Actions, and Results) to gain the highest points during an application review. See an in-depth explanation in Job-Hunt's Federal Government Job Search section.
Job Search Scripts
If your documents and/or networking have been successful, you will need to be prepared to have discussions about yourself and your job search or career goals.
Tell Me About Yourself Response
Nearly every potential employer, recruiter, and even networking contact will ask you, "Tell me about yourself." It may come in other forms, i.e., can you tell me a little about your background?
This response needs to be fully developed into a 60-second summary of your professional career history and include a compelling hook, so the listener asks, "Great. Tell me more." Your "Tell Me About Yourself" response needs to be translated from military to corporate speak.
Write your script, translate it, and practice— so it sounds like it flows naturally, as opposed to rote recitation.
Interview Question Responses
Interviewing can be very intimidating for someone who has not interviewed in many years. You may want to start by creating a list of potential interview questions and writing responses. This exercise will help in preparation and aide in delivery of interview responses; but, keep in mind, you can practice dozens of interview questions and never be asked a single question that you prepared for in an interview. Every interview is different.
You may not need all of the tools listed above, but it is always better to be prepared than caught off guard when seeking employment.
It is nearly impossible to apply for a job without a resume—even if you are fortunate enough to secure an interview before a hiring manager sees your resume—the Human Resources Department will need a copy for your official file, along with your job application and offer package. As you prepare to transition to corporate, and build your portfolio of job search documents, you will realize how each tool is part of an entire tool kit that provides confidence and easy accessibility to job search resources at your fingertips in your personal portfolio.