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A Veteran’s Approach to a Job Search (Part 6)

Even as we head into a long Fourth of July holiday weekend for some of us, this is a great time to discuss planning our work.

No matter the level of the position or type of work I have been involved with, the one consistent trait I have seen in successful people is that they plan their work. The top performers also go one step further: they work their plan.

From basic training to college, from private to first sergeant, from recruiter to chief operating officer, we see the same characteristics in people that win, and one of the most basic is planning. A successful person almost always has a plan. They know where they are headed and how to get there. They are then motivated to follow that plan to reach the end result desired.

Whether we are learning a skill, completing our education, or have reached the interview stage of our career search, there are many tools to keep ourselves organized. However, you have to find the ones that work for you.

Regardless of what tools you choose to use, I do suggest that you be current and online. I am going to focus most of our discussion on job-seekers with access to the internet, a small budget, and, hopefully, a cell phone and Internet access.

  1. Set a realistic, attainable goal.
  2. Conduct an online search of “time management” and refresh your knowledge of this learned skill. Also check out “job search plan.”
  3. Remember, until you get a job, your job search is your full-time job. Fill your day and your calendar. If you are currently working full- or part-time, you will have to work around that, as well. Try to work, review, research, and study during non-business hours. You need to be free as much as possible to schedule calls, follow-ups, and interviews during business hours. A job interview is your No. 1 priority, so adjust your schedule to make it happen.
  4. Schedule breaks and days off. No drinking if you work the next day! Refer to your goal.
  5. Plan to attend career events, local libraries, and Veterans Service Organization visits. Each state has great Veteran resources and you should be using yours. Remember, just because someone has a great website does not mean it is effective. The more you research, the more you will learn what is useful.
  6. Use one web-based email system and calendar for your career search. You can create folders for application receipts, set reminders, etc. If you’re a techie, great! If not, the rest of the world is, so get some help from your nearest teenager and have them school you.
  7. Work the plan! Now that you have a goal and a plan to reach it, be disciplined. Remember “I will never surrender my post until properly relieved”? Well, this is your post until you land that dream job. Get to work.

OK, warrior, time to start thinking about getting social for our next task. Some of us are great in crowds and meeting new people, some not so much. So, go for a walk with someone this week in a public area, say hello to 10 people while smiling and, if you have a pet or a child, get on the floor and play with them for 5 minutes a day.

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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