By Robert Lindsey, copyright, all rights reserved.
Here are an even dozen approaches to locating job opportunities and successfully pursuing your second career campaign. Use several or all of them as availability, time and resources permit. And remember; direct all of your actions towards landing interviews!
1. Computer & Internet Databases: Computer, or Internet databases are the latest method for finding employment. Their use is becoming increasingly widespread. The cost is usually minimal, or free, and the effort is well worth the time spent. Most database systems offer two different services; resume listing and/or job listing. Transition Assistance Online offers both and is focused on job seekers from the military. You can post your resume to TAOnline.com at no cost by going to: http://www.taonline.com/ and you can search through the job offerings at: http://bw.taonline.com/ccn/search.cfm. Be sure to try out the new TA-Scout search agent, it will e-mail you jobs that match your needs: http://bw.taonline.com/search/agent/.
With resume listing, the database service puts your resume online, and potential employers can search through the database for likely candidates. With job listings, you access an online computer database and search through the job listings yourself. Make sure the database/internet service company is providing only the latest data and read all contracts carefully. See the TAOnline article, Surfing the Internet for Employment Opportunities for more details.
2. Employment Agencies, Recruiters, and Placement Firms: There are a lot of employment agencies and placement firms out there and literally thousands of recruiters. However, only a few specialize in the military. Most of these are good, but certainly one of the largest and therefore one which can offer the most employment opportunities is the Lucas Group. They've been at it for more than thirty years, and they treat job seekers from the military community with the respect they deserve (most of the Lucas recruiters are former military themselves). Lucas Group has been helping military job seekers find civilian careers since 1970. It's the largest military placement firm, and it finds more career opportunities each year than most every other military placement firm.
A Lucas hiring conference can provide a terrific way to learn about corporate opportunities. In fact, 85 percent of Lucas' placements occur as a result of these conferences, which are held more than 25 times each year in cities nationwide. Each event includes 30 to 80 hiring companies, enabling candidates, on average, to interview with four to nine potential employers.
It is worth noting that Lucas offers these interviewing opportunities at no cost to the military job seeker. If a conference isn't the best fit, Lucas offers outstanding one-on-one interview opportunities around the country. For more info, go to: www.lucasgroup.com/military.
3. Military Transition Assistance Offices: While the bulk of the military force drawdowns have been completed, over the next 12 months, approximately 200,000 service members will be separated from active military duty. Congress and the Department of Defense have set up transition assistance centers for these personnel and their dependents, usually provided at the base or installation Transition Assistance Office and/or the Family Assistance/ Support Offices.
These offices provide career search counseling and out-placement services. If you're leaving the military, stop by your installation's TA Office/Family Assistance /Personnel Support Center for the latest information. These facilities have information about employers that want to hire military job seekers, transition seminars and programs, as well as upcoming job fairs and other resources. For a listing of virtually every military TAP Office/Family Service/Family Support/Veterans Employment Center, to include contact information, click here.
4. Military/Veteran's Organizations & Associations: Don't forget to check out and join the various organizations to which you may be entitled to become a member, such as: the Reserve Officers Association (www.roa.org), the Non-Commissioned Officers Association (www.ncoausa.org), the American Legion (www.legion.org), and similar bodies. Many of these organizations offer their members assistance in seeking second careers and are terrific for networking, which, as noted below, is another good way to find solid job leads.
5. Networking: A recent Department of Labor survey revealed that at least 50% of job positions were filled directly or indirectly as a result of networking! A large number of job opportunities are never advertised, never interviewed at college campuses, never posted at veteran placement offices, never listed with employment agencies or executive placement firms. Why? Because it's fast, it's easy, it's free, and someone known and trusted to the prospective employer does the initial screening. Networking means utilizing contacts to learn about employment opportunities. Build a network of contacts before you need it - don't wait until you're out of the military or a job! Your network should include: friends, family, church congregations, coworkers, competitors, members of professional, military, and alumni associations, members of local community projects and local government - and anyone else you can think of! Keep in touch with your network; telephone or send cards, letters, clippings, photos, etc. Do them favors or just be helpful; favors don't have to be extravagant to be appreciated. Often a word to one will spread to others. These people may very well know of openings, of which they can make you aware if only they know that you are looking! When you ask these people for help, you're asking for their endorsement as a good candidate for employment. Don't be discouraged, it takes time for you to build your network and get your name into circulation. See the TAOnline article, Networking and the Art of Making Contacts for more details.
6. Direct Application to Employers: According to the Department of Labor, this is still one of the most popular methods of searching for employment. It requires the preparation of well-focused and properly developed cover letters and resumes, time, good record keeping and follow-up. Develop a list of likely employers and then prioritize the list. Establish a calendar for your activities and then contact a certain number each day. Write to the appropriate department heads or, as last choice, personnel offices of the companies in which you are interested. Follow up according to your activity calendar. Don't be discouraged, this strategy may take a while to secure an interview. Check out Transition Assistance Software, which offers a resume writer, cover letters, sample resumes, and a mil-skills translator, plus tools to help you in organizing your job search.
7. Mentoring: Many of us had or have a mentor -- someone older or more experienced who has helped us in our life and in our career. Now is a good time to seek out your mentors. Mentors can provide: advice, advocacy, encouragement, new or improved knowledge or skills, a role model, career guidance, advancement opportunities, employment resources, increased exposure and visibility, personal support, psychological support, and development of greater maturity. Talk to your mentor today!
8. Informational Interviewing: An informational interview is just that. Arrange appointments and meet with decisionmakers in the career areas that you are interested. Ensure the people you talk with are aware of your interests, abilities, and goals. Ask questions about their organization's positions and respective responsibilities/duties. Don't ask for employment, rather give and seek information about yourself and your job search. Ask for guidance and further referrals; each informational interview usually generates another three or four contacts. Be sure to leave a favorable impression. By following this process you will generally develop an extensive contact/job lead list quite rapidly.
9. Government Employment Offices (Federal, State, & Local): The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) at 1900 E Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20415 is the federal government office responsible for managing the Civil Service, Excepted Service and Executive Service. Write O.P.M. for information. To apply for federal government positions most individuals believe that a completed Standard Form 171 or the new OF612 is required, when in fact, due to the paper reduction act, only a special resume is required. Another private company, The Federal Jobs Digest, publishes a comprehensive monthly list of all federal government position openings.
You order a subscription, usually for three months, for about $25.00. Each state and many local governments have employment offices as well. Seek out the ones nearest you for information and services. Also see TAOnline's Federal Government Jobs Information section and use the TA-Scout to be automatically notified when a federal job is listed on TAOnline.com (see http://bw.taonline.com/search/agent/).
10. College Career Centers & Libraries: The career center, placement office or library of your local high school, college, university, business school, community college, occupational training center, alma mater, etc., are all excellent sources of employment information. Frequently, they will have job search resources, notebooks listing jobs, employer directories, lists of company addresses, etc. Ask the librarian or counselor for assistance. Sometimes a fee is required. Even better, register with the school -- if you don't take a class you can often still use the facilities: computer rooms, resource libraries, alumni associations, etc., and you will have also joined another networking organization at the same time!
11. Classified Ads: Classified or want ads are an easy and cheap way to look for job leads, especially if you wish to remain in the same geographic region. The Sunday classified section of large daily papers is the best. Also, try the want ads of the top trade publications in your area of expertise. Don't concentrate on looking just for your old job title. Read through all the related job headings as well as others that interest you. Beware of employers that run daily ads (you have to wonder why they can't fill or keep a position filled). Beware of alluring salaries that may be "bait and switch" offers, i.e., they tell you, "the position was just filled but wouldn't you like to start now at the just as interesting (and lower paying), entry-level position?"
12. Mass Mailings: Mass mailings, or broadcast mailings, is one way to cover the field. You'll need to develop or buy a large mailing list of prospective employers. The idea is to send out enough generic letters and resumes that you will eventually interest a few employers, e.g., if you send out 300 letters and receive a one percent reply, you'll receive three interviews. That is not very good odds though, plus it can get fairly expensive, and you're not selling yourself very well. Like junk mail, mass mailings are obvious, easy to ignore, and easy to throw away!
*** Material contained herein is made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense. ***