Assessing Your Abilities
Employers want people who are contributors — individuals who fit in with the company culture and can get the job done. Whether or not an employer recognizes these qualities in you depends on how effectively you identify the qualities the employer is seeking and show yourself to be the perfect match for the job. Showing how your skills, education and training, experience and work ethic fit the company's requirements starts with an extensive inventory.
Skills represent either natural abilities or things you have learned, and fall into three categories:
- Self-management skills refer to the way you manage yourself on the job (e.g., dependable, resourceful, etc.)
- Functional skills are the skills you use on the job or have used in previous jobs (e.g., operate equipment, supervise, analyze, etc.)
- Technical skills relate to specific skills required to perform a described task (e.g., computer programming, accounting, sales, etc.)
Use newspaper and Internet job listings and talk to your ACAP counselor. Be careful in your research and your assessment of your own skills. Make sure you understand the terminology used by employers. Be honest with yourself. Using a computer to enter data into a fire control system does not mean you have experience as a computer programmer. If you don't have what it takes, reassess your objective or begin to look for ways you can acquire the skills you need.
Sometimes, employers use specific training and education requirements as a means of determining an applicant's ability to do the job. Find out what employers are looking for and determine if you meet those criteria. Keep in mind that your military training may qualify you. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document, or DD Form 2586, is the best place to start your training and education inventory. If you still don't have what it takes, talk to your education counselor to find out how you can acquire what you need.
Your time in the military has given you excellent experience. It may be difficult, though, to compare your military experience to civilian job experience. Forget about military job titles or occupational codes. Instead, look at what you did. Once again, your VMET document is a great place to start. Employers prefer proven performers, so make sure you know what employers are looking for in comparison to your military work experience. It's true that employers want to hire applicants who have the requisite skills and experience. Keep in mind, though, that a positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm can do a lot to shift the balance in your favor.
Certification and Licenses
Regardless of your training, education or experience, some employers will require that you hold a specific certificate or license. For example, most municipalities will require that you be a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) before offering you a position as an EMT. More importantly, employers will normally require a local license or certificate. The fact that you have a Virginia teaching certificate may not be sufficient to allow you to teach in Montana. Make sure you understand the licensure and certification requirements for your job objective. You can learn more about licensure and certification requirements by visiting the COOL website.
Work Style and Ethic
Once you show yourself to have the perfect qualifications and even match the company culture, there's one more thing to consider. What is your work style or ethic? Some employers are looking for folks who will work well as part of a team. Still others want independent workers who need little or no supervision. All employers want punctual, dependable people who are free of drug dependency. Make sure you know what the employer is looking for and then check yourself out. Do you have what they want? Are you someone who likes to supervise or do you only want to follow? Are you willing to work irregular and long hours or do you want a 40-hour workweek? Are you prepared to gamble on a commission rather than a fixed salary? Employers are smart people who can figure out if you're the right person. If they don't figure it out before they hire you, they'll find out soon after you start work.
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Setting a Realistic Objective
Assessing your Abilities
Exploring the Market
Creating Effective Resumes
Applying for a Federal Job
Maxing the Job Interview
Dressing for Success
Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers