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A Veteran’s Approach to a Job Search (Part 3)

Welcome to a critical step in your job search.

As you read the title above, I ask you to dwell on it while saying it out loud.

First of all, the word “decide” is a challenge for many people. Put 4 of the greatest leaders in a car at lunch time and ask them, “Where do you want to eat?” There will be a chorus of, “I don’t care.” Why? We make decisions all of the time, so when we do not have to, we would rather not.

Making a decision is a commitment. It defines our options. When presented with several options, each is available to us until we decide upon one.

Is it me or does that sound like getting married or enlisting in the military? Once we ask someone to marry us or choose a job in the military, we are committed. We can (should) no longer bounce around and be non-committal. Once we decide, we have to put all we have into that decision.

Now let’s look at the next big word: “qualified.”

It is relatively easy for us to make a decision when we are told what we are qualified to do. When we entered the military, whether as an officer or enlisted member, we were given aptitude tests and various assessments of our “qualifications.” Based upon an analysis of the facts, we were offered choices.

Of course, there were some people who were not qualified for service and were not able to serve. However, if you’re a Veteran, you’ve got skills!

It is now time to be honest. If the pretty girl always turns you down, you know where you stand. If you’re the first girl to get asked to dance, you know where you stand. When we entered the service, we knew where we stood.

With that, where do you stand? Are your qualifications up to par? Have you taken advantage of the educational benefits and acquired a degree or certification in the position you want to work in?

Some Veterans are highly qualified. They have a sense of self-improvement and desire to learn that has never stopped, and countless hours have been spent attaining goals.

But for many of us, we did not have time to further our education, did not realize how important it would be, or just had higher priorities.

Either way, you’re in luck. As a Veteran you have certain qualifications already: leadership, discipline, integrity, loyalty, punctuality, critical thinking, ability to learn. The same things that are taught in universities are instilled into us in the military. Additionally, we were all trained in a skill in the military. While some skills are more relevant than others to a civilian career, they are all relevant.

Whether you have strong demonstrated qualifications and can start at the top of an organization in your career field, or you need to start at the bottom and climb your way up, you are armed with truth. We can all stand to further our education and it may take a while to climb that hill. Fortunately, most of us have education benefits that can assist us in achieving that goal.

Of course, I have to mention … if you’re headed to school, think health care! Think VA!

Finally, after you have thoroughly analyzed and reviewed your skills, education, and experience from the previous step, it is time to decide. Narrow your focus on what you are qualified to do. Rather than an “I don’t care” approach, you now have a “warrior’s” approach.

Go forth and do great things!

The Veteran’s Approach to a Job Search Series:

About the Author:

Darren Sherrard is the associate director for Recruitment Marketing and Advertising at VA’s Office of Workforce Management and Consulting. Darren retired from the U.S. Army with 20 years of service. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management, is a Senior Fellow of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, a Certified Contracting Officer Representative (COR) II and a Federal Acquisition Corps Program Manager (PM) I.

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