and if you were like me, it was not until the new year arrived that it fully hit you that you were getting out of the Army – or Navy, Air Force, or Marines, or Coast Guard – this year. Big realization that along with the emotional punch of leaving the service you have a whole bunch of stuff you’ve got to do.
The good news is you don’t have to do it all right away, but there are some things you have to do to transition successfully in the next three, or six, or nine months. They will provide the foundation for success so that when you are in the thick of the job hunt you know you’ve got the basics covered.
- Get a Hard Copy of Your Military Evaluations. Put your I-love-me book together with a hard copy of all of your military evaluations, awards, citations, and transcripts. Once you get your DD-214 put that in there too. If this is the first time you’ve picked up your evaluations from the S-1, make sure they are accurate, complete, and signed.
- Complete Your LinkedIn Profile. Make sure you’ve added a good headshot. Your dates match up. You’ve got a good summary at the top. Your latest job sells you as well as describes what you do. Add relevant skills. LinkedIn is the first place anyone goes to check out who you are and what you’ve been doing. Make sure you present the best package. More on this in our next blog post.
- Review And Update Your Military Resume. Your dates all match and all time is accounted for. Formatting and spacing are correct. No misspellings. All jobs descriptions are concise and accurate. Quantifiable bullets for achievements – real, measurable achievements. Edit out all extraneous information. No crazy hobbies like “numismatics” or “amateur dentistry”. No misspellings. Have someone look at it and tell you what they think.
- Collect Your Network Contact Information. Get updated phone numbers, email addresses, and street addresses for all of the contacts in your job search network. Family. Friends. Other members of your unit who got out in the last year. Former commanders. Buddies from school. Your last supervisor. You will need these people for leads and references – make sure you have their information now. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Christmas card lists are great places to start.
- Complete Your References List. Make a list of nine people you know who will serve as references for you – 3 supervisors, 3 peers, and 3 subordinates. Contact them and ask their permission. Ensure you have accurate contact information (see above). Return the favor. Just don’t ask anyone to be a reference you aren’t 100% sure will give you a strong, positive, specific recommendation.
- Establish More Contacts On LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool for business networking and a huge source of active and passive candidates for large and small corporations all over the world. Search for people you know and add them to your network. Get introduced to others through your friends and contacts. Use the email search features to see who you’ve missed. Expand your network.
- Buy/Measure/Clean Your Interviewing Clothes. You’ve got three days – spend some time picking out and buying your interviewing clothes if you haven’t done it already. More on this later, but you need two outfits – one for your initial interviews and one for your site visits. If you already own them and you’ve been hitting the gym, make sure they fit and get them tailored if you need to. Lastly, pick them up off of your closet floor and get them dry-cleaned. Even the tie – you’ll forget to do it later.
- Establish An Email Account Just For Your Job Search. Your first and last name. First name dot last name. Or first initial last name. Keep it simple, classy, and easy to remember when you are filling out job applications and online forms. Keeps your personal email and professional email separate and helps you avoid typing email@example.com over and over and over.
- Shine Your Shoes. Always good to have your shoes shined before you sit down with a hiring manager, and you never have time to do it right just before you start an interview. Avoids getting polish on that white shirt, too.
- Ask For References On LinkedIn. Sensing a theme here with LinkedIn? I hope I’m not being too subtle . Ask people you’ve worked with in the past for recommendations on LinkedIn. I know several people that have been offered jobs over the phone because their interviewers knew the people offering their recommendations and were excited about how strong they were. You won’t have time to get recommendations when you want them, so get them early and allow your reference plenty of reflection and writing time.
There are plenty of things to do as you start to interview and try to land a new job and career. Take care of these details now so you can work on the important stuff when interview time comes around.