Transition Guidance

Success during your transition is the result of an honest self-assessment, developing sound financial and career planning objectives, aggressively pursuing your job search strategies and a little hard work!

Title:Self Assessment

Author:Robert W. Lindsey. All rights reserved.

There is much more to getting a job, or starting a new career, than just writing a resume and mailing it out to some classified ads in the newspaper, or emailing it to an online posting, or going to a placement agency. Advance preparation is critical to landing the type of position, or starting the new endeavor, you really want and in which you will be the most happy and successful. Below we will examine what you should do to find the key factors that will help you focus your job search and ensure your second career campaign gets off to an organized and positive start. First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I reaching military retirement age and/or near my end-of-service?
  • Do I have enough money saved to support myself and my family if I retire/separate now?
  • Should I start looking for a second career?
  • Should I re-enlist or continue in my current military occupational field?
  • Would a vacation or taking leave change my outlook?
  • Is it only with my present supervisor or commander that I am having difficulties?
  • Is my advancement stalled?
  • Will further promotions occur too slowly for me?
  • Do I believe that I'm adequately rewarded for my work?
  • Would a lateral move or transfer make a difference?
  • Am I glamorizing other careers and/or civilian life?
  • Am I fulfilling my lifelong dreams? Or have they changed?

Recognize that searching for the position you want is a full-time job in itself. Make a personal commitment of your time and energy. Take the time to analyze your life, relationships, career and financial goals. Also, obtaining the position you want requires a sales campaign on your part. YOU are the product and employers are potential customers. You must be able to "sell" yourself, but to have the knowledge to do this successfully, you must develop a clear understanding of your skills, interests, values, abilities, expertise and personality.

Assess Yourself:

Many of us are so busy just working and getting by that we've given very little attention to what genuinely interests or motivates us. If you're unsure about what you want from your life, career, relationships, etc., take some time and think about the various possibilities. What are your personal, family and career needs? Be honest with yourself. Think of what you actually want and like, not what you should want and like. Think back to the things that made you feel the most satisfied. Try and come to some conclusions. Many people spend most of their lives unsuccessfully trying to figure out exactly what they want. You owe it to yourself to do better than that! Analyze yourself; take a pen and paper and write down the answers to the following questions:

  • Who am I? (Many of us base our self image on what we DO, rather than who we ARE)
  • What is it that I most want to do? (Work for myself, go to school, travel)
  • Why do I want to do it? (Financial security, personal ambition, curious)
  • What are my goals and objectives? (Independence, early retirement, entrepreneurial desire)
  • What do I want to get out of life? (Rewarding career, secure income, personal satisfaction)
  • What kind of lifestyle do I want?
  • What are my hobbies?
  • Where do I want to live? Work? Recreate?
  • Could I live in a small town? City? Suburbs? Overseas?
  • Which would I prefer: large or small business, government, non-profit?
  • Do I own a home that I want to remain in? Or a community that I don't want to leave?
  • Does my spouse have a job they want to keep?
  • Could my spouse move?
  • Are my children still living at home or in school?
  • Do my children want to move?
  • What past jobs or educational courses did I enjoy the most?
  • What elements in my past jobs made me happy? Most productive?
  • What am I most successful at?
  • Have I kept up with current developments in my career field or area of expertise?
  • Do I want to continue working in my same specialty? Or change careers?
  • Do I like working with people, data, or things?
  • Do I like doing or thinking activities?
  • Can I stand a high stress job?
  • Do I want a more demanding, challenging career?
  • What other career paths or opportunities am I interested in?
  • Do I want to work with others or independently?
  • Do I want to work in a large or small group?
  • What kind of people do I want to work for and with?
  • What kind of personalities do I prefer?
  • Can I start over again in an entry-level position?
  • Do I want to supervise people or be supervised myself?
  • What kind of rewards do I prefer?
  • How much money do I need?
  • How much money would I like to make?
  • Do I have the qualifications to make that much money? Or more?
  • Do I need additional education or training?
  • Where can I get this education or training if needed?
  • What are my skills, aptitudes, and expertise?
  • What motivates me? (Competition, money, leadership, philanthropy)
  • What sort of benefits and insurance programs do I need to protect myself and my family?
  • Have I prepared for separation or retirement?
  • Have I considered the length of time required to find a new job?

Have you ever sat down and written a clear, concise answer to any of these questions? Could you in five minutes or less describe yourself to a stranger? An interviewer? An employer? Choosing to change your life by transitioning from the military and finding a new civilian position calls for self assessment. You must:

  • Know yourself.
  • Determine your interests.
  • Analyze your relationships.
  • Plan your financial needs.
  • Recognize your aptitudes.
  • Evaluate your work experience and education.
  • Recognize your personal qualities.
  • Understand your physical capacities.
  • Identify your leisure time activities.
  • Set your goals (Life, relationships, career, financial, etc.)

Self assessment is difficult at best. All these questions cannot be answered easily. Consider these additional resources and options:

  • Career and employment counseling.
  • Personality and vocational testing.
  • Books offering detailed methods of self-examination.

Skills Inventory:

Analyzing the following categories of skills will help you develop your job search goals, write your resume and prepare for your interviews. To complete the list, think about the most significant accomplishments and experiences in your military service and/or civilian employment, as well as in your academic and extracurricular activities. Next, check off the skills you've developed. Then write descriptions next to the most appropriate skill items you checked off in the list. Next, develop a concise list of your abilities and skills. Finally, analyze the results to understand more clearly what your strengths, weaknesses, talents and interests are:

COMMUNICATIONS:
  • Buying
  • Corresponding
  • Distributing
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Interpreting
  • Translating
  • Reading
  • Proofreading
  • Representing
  • Interviewing
  • Recruiting
  • Spelling
  • Speaking
PHYSICAL:
  • Athletics
  • Construction
  • Protecting
  • Repairing
CREATIVE:
  • Arranging
  • Displaying
  • Designing
  • Performing
  • Printing
  • Sketching
  • Painting
  • Photographing
SCIENTIFIC:
  • Laboratory Work
  • Medical Work
  • Measuring
  • Treating
  • Diagnosing
  • Discovering
INTERACTIVE:
  • Coaching
  • Directing
  • Tutoring
  • Counseling
  • Advising
  • Handling Complaints
  • Interviewing
  • Meeting the Public
  • Teaching
  • Training
QUANTITATIVE:
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Calculating
  • Computing
  • Data Processing
ORGANIZATIONAL:
  • Managing
  • Planning
  • Record Keeping
  • Supervising
  • Overseeing
  • Timing
  • Updating
ANALYTICAL:
  • Analyzing
  • Evaluating
  • Classifying
  • Estimating
  • Appraising
  • Examining
  • Researching

Goal Setting:

When someone asks us, "What's the best way to get a job?", we tell them, there is no one best way. The best way is whatever gets you the job. In a competitive employment environment, or even when it's a job-seekers market, just sticking to the basics - a sharp resume, excellent interviewing skills, and good contacts - may not be enough to get you the job you REALLY want. You need something extra to give you an edge over the competition. You need a plan of attack. Before you start your job search, take the time to develop a plan and setting some goals. Here's a handy method adapted from "Self Magazine."

Write these six headings on separate index cards or sheets of paper:

On each card, write down all the goals for that heading (at least three) which come to mind, don't screen out any at this point.

Look over each card and check-off the three goals that are the most current or important to you.

On a separate piece of paper, list these selected 18 goals.

Look over the combined list of 18 goals and check-off the three goals that are the most significant to you currently.

These three goals are the ones you should focus on first.

On separate sheets of paper, list the three goals in terms of Objective Statements i.e., "I will arrange interviews with at least twenty employers during each month of my job search".

Develop an action plan for each Objective Statement, with goals that are:

  • Measurable,
  • Realistic, and
  • Within your control.

As an integral part of your action plan, specify the approach you'll use, including:

  • Steps to take,
  • Information to collect, and
  • Resources available.

Maintain a daily journal or a calendar, tracking each specific task you accomplish or step you take, no matter how minor, towards accomplishing each of your three goals.

Reward yourself, even for achieving the simplest task. Match the amount of the reward to the level of accomplishment.

Once you've accomplished these three goals, return to the original list of 18 and identify the next three to undertake.

Think positively - those who think in positive terms get positive results, in their lives, careers and businesses.

Good goal setting and career planning will give you a strong start, and lead to a successful conclusion, in your job search.

Developing an Action Plan:

Now take the time to write down a short (preferably one-page) outline of an action plan, using the personal profile of yourself derived from the foregoing exercise. This plan, call it your "Career Campaign Plan", should serve as the working outline of how to achieve your goals and objectives taking into consideration your skills and strengths, as well as weaknesses, competencies and desires. Develop a time table, calendar and checklist to track and check-off each of the objectives and goals as you achieve them. Stick to your action plan and achieve your goals in a timely manner - and don't forget to reward yourself for a job well done! For some ideas of the kinds of approaches and tools you might want to include in your campaign plan, see "Job Hunting Strategies".

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