9 Easy Steps to Preparing Yourself for Employment
As with everything else in our lives as military spouses we have to be sure that we are extra prepared to enter into the job market. Everything from our resumes to our interview outfit should be thoroughly planned and swiftly executed. Use these easy to follow step by step tips to help prepare yourself for your job hunting journey!
Identify the Job That You Want and Have the Skills For: Sometimes it’s best for us to sit back and take a Self-Inventory so that we can be aware of exactly what we want, what path we are on, and what we can do to grow. When you are ready to enter into the workforce or change that career that you are currently in, take a few career and skill assessments that will help you pinpoint industries and fields that you will excel in! These assessments can be found online and can take as little as 5 or 10 minutes to complete.
Seek Help From Base/Post Resources: Utilize the resources that are available to you at your nearest post or base. Often times (if not all) these services are free and can be very helpful when you are seeking employment.
Make Sure You Have the PERFECT Resume and Cover Letter: Most people cringe when they see the word “resume” for one reason or another, but your resume should be something that you are proud of! And did you know that resumes that come with cover letters are more likely to be noticed than ones without one? This is exactly why you should be sure to have both documents on hand and professionally written! Of course, this will take time and it might require you to hire a professional. However, a great resume can mean the difference between a yearlong and a month long job hunt.
Tips For Writing a Great Cover Letter:
Call attention to your soft skills (organization, project management, previous experience, etc.) in bullet points, and tell employer about yourself (highlight your academic and professional achievements) in short paragraphs.
Make the cover letter short and sweet, meaning no more than 3 paragraphs and 5 bullet points to highlight your soft skills.
Tips for Writing a Great Resume:
Have a strong title career summary and object (in paragraph form). This needs to be the first thing that employers see and should grab their attention immediately. Example:
Sales Associate and Business Professional
A top-performing sales associate credited with combining sales, marketing, and business development expertise to deliver substantial company growth in highly competitive markets. Strong expertise in developing relationships with customers, vendors, and team members. Highly accomplished in project management, company coordination, and customer service.
Follow the career summary with an organized list of soft skills (similar to the ones mentioned in the cover letter) called the Area of Expertise section. These skills will help your resume to get passed any automated scanners that many employers use when going through resumes that are sent online. Example:
High-Level Sales Proficiency
Sales and Marketing
Sales Cycle Compression
Team Management and Leadership
iii. Follow up the Area of Expertise Skills with your professional experience. This should serve as the “meat” of your resume. Never be afraid to brag on yourself and always go into detail! It’s OK to be proud of your accomplishments (but, please, be sure to never lie). Make sure you write complete sentences and avoid using more than 5 bullet points/duties per job. Also, NEVER go back more than 10 years because after 10 years your skills are considered to be outdated and irrelevant. Nevertheless, be sure to make this part the most detailed.
Company Name 1, City, ST Dates Job Title
Company Name 2, City, ST Dates Job Title
After you have listed your professional experience you can follow up with the following sections (all separate): Education and Training; Affiliations; Awards. Example:
Education and Training School, Degree, Major, Year Training Class, Year Certification, Year Affiliations Organization, Position/Title, Years Affiliated
Awards Award, Year
Be Sure That You Have Good, Solid References: Although you won’t always need a reference list, it’s good to have one just in case you are asked. This list should be in a separate document and should include at least 3 non-related people (preferably fellow managers, co-workers, or mentors). Include their name, telephone number, email address, and their job title/company. Be sure to inform your references that you are suing them as a reference so that they can be prepared.
Use and Clean up Your Social Media Outlets: Social media can be a blessing and a curse. Social media can be a great source for employment leads, but it can also prevent you from being hired. Be sure to keep your social media “clean” just in case employers decide to take a glance at your pages to get a feel for your personality (yes, they do that). Be sure to also utilize LinkedIn to market yourself and find out about new job opportunities in your area.
Plan Your Interview Outfit: Be sure that you have at least 2 interview outfits in rotation at all times. Slacks and a white button down shirt is the safest route, but you can also go with a plain, conservative black or dark blue dress. Be sure to wear heels (no more than 3 inches high) and avoid gaudy jewelry.
Practice For Your Interview: Interviews can be unnerving, but if you practice and master the answers for the following interview practice questions, you can ease you mind and shine bright in your interview:
Why should we hire you? For this question be sure to talk about your personal and professional success and highlight your organization, people, and project management skills.
What is your biggest weakness? Be sure to talk about a weakness that is actually kind-of a strength! For example, you might say that you have the tendency to take on the work of others when they don’t do it although you know that you should let them do it themselves.
What are three traits that every employee should have? This is a great question because it allows you to be creative! Be sure to say something unique. Use words such like “innovation”, “perseverance”, or “solution-focused”.
Why do you want to work here? The obvious answer is, “Because I need some money”. However, you cannot say that during an interview. At least, not out loud. Answer this question by saying something to compliment the company such as, “I have always respected your organization and I feel that I have room to grow in this company”.
Be Honest About Your Spousal Status: I know that military spouses are often discriminated against in the job market, but it is important that we disclose the fact that we are spouses to potential employers. If you are asked about it then be truthful, but use it as a way to reiterate how flexible you are and why you would make such a great team player! Use it as a way to prove that you work well under pressure (BECAUSE WE DO)!
Follow Up: Be sure to follow up with employers to check on the status of your application. You want to be sure to make yourself known and show that you are eager to work!
Follow these steps and you are sure to be well prepared for your job hunting journey. If you find yourself needing help with this process, don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals that can help you go through the steps. I am professional resume writer and job coach, so if you have any questions or would like information on any employment and/or academic consulting packages that I offer, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy hunting and good luck!
Asia Huggins, Writer, Student, and CEO