Whether you transitioned out of the military long ago or just turned in your separation papers, most people take time to relax and reflect during the summer. Many take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather to spend time with family, catch up on sleep and increase outdoor activities during the months of June through August.
For job seekers, summer can be a respite from the stress of finding employment (or securing better employment), but it can also present a lot of stress for those of you in career transition as everyone around you appears to be preparing to go back to work or school soon.
As you get the kids ready to start the school year, take time to prepare yourself for the job search by following these steps:
1. Make a list of what you enjoy/don't enjoy in your work. For instance, do you enjoy process, analysis and working within established guidelines? Or do you prefer more fluidity and a creative environment where no two days are the same? Both are right: Your style and preferences are yours to explore. They can help guide the type of work and work environment you'll thrive in going forward.
2. Think about the kinds of people you enjoy working alongside. Are they active, outdoors people? Would you describe them as adventurous? Or do you prefer to work with people who are more introverted and reflective? Think back to your time in uniform -- or before -- and the people you got along with best. What common interests, goals or tendencies did you share with them?
3. What could you talk about all day and never tire? Your passion is often found in the topics, causes and issues you feel are effortless to learn about, discuss and promote. Make a list of all the things you enjoy discussing -- from sports, to cooking, to logistics, to high-risk missions, to helping others navigate their work.
4. What does your experience say about you? Have you held many positions where you were visible and in a lead role? Do you describe yourself as a risk taker? If so, ensure your resume reflects your passion for pushing boundaries and exploring possibilities. Likewise, if your experience reflects a more conservative, cautious workstyle, consider how you can frame that in your resume to show your qualifications in more risk-averse environments.
5. Study your lists and identify patterns, if you can. For example, if you prefer to be around people who are more creative and free-spirited and you like being outdoors in nature, could talk endlessly about the need to be responsible with natural resources, and worked as a linguistics specialist in the Army, there are patterns there. Perhaps, for you, a career as a lobbyist for an environmental company seeking to do work in foreign countries would be ideal? Or maybe you'd like to be a park guide for a nature program in another country? Patterns help us see opportunity.
When you start to see the opportunities ahead, spend the rest of the summer organizing your assets: Your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter and wardrobe should all consistently reflect your experience and passion for what comes next. Then, focus on building a network of contacts who can endorse you, advocate for you and refer you to opportunities.
While others might be relaxing this summer, your work is to get started on your next career!