Stepping Into the Job Market? Start With a Self-Assessment

Stepping Into the Job Market? Start With a Self-Assessment
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Whether you are preparing for your eventual transition out of uniformed service, considering a step toward greener employment pastures, or simply a bit curious about the opportunities available during the “Great Resignation,” you have some significant decisions ahead.


Before you plow forward with salary research, deep dives on the companies in question, and overhauls of your application materials – when it’s time, MOAA can help with all that – it’s important to know more about the one constant amid all these choices: You.


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A self-assessment is an important step at the start of any employment odyssey. You’ll need a full picture of your skills, preferences, and goals before trying to find the perfect job opening. Without this self-reflection, you risk running headlong into a confusing process without clear direction or purpose – a troubling start for anybody in the job market, but especially for those used to the direction and purpose offered by uniformed service.


Here are some self-assessment pointers from MOAA transition materials and other sources. Need more advice? Premium and Life members can access archived webinars on all manner of transition topics at this link.

  • Skills vs. Careers: It’s important to take stock of the qualifications, certifications, and other training you’ve received during your time in service. While these are must-have skills for some employers and may set you apart from other candidates, always remember that they are not shackles – you can choose to reinvent yourself after service, and the “soft skills” you’ve picked up while in uniform will help with that reinvention.

  • Your Personal Resources: It’s not enough to know the skills you have – you’ll also want to assess the resources available to you if there are skills you need or want as part of a new career path. Will your next move require more training, an advanced degree, or some other leg up? Your GI Bill benefits may help fit the need, and other financial support could be available.

  • On the Job: Most servicemembers will serve in all manner of work environments during their career, and while they may not fully echo what you can expect in the civilian sphere, they should give you some ideas on how you prefer to operate. Do you prefer a hands-off boss? Do you like to collaborate or be left alone? Are you more effective on a large team, or in a small group?

  • Location, Location, Location: Does the area of the country where you’d like to settle down have the types of job you’re seeking? Are remote working options available? What is your tolerance for a long commute? Do you need to be near the best schools, or the best beach?

  • The No-Go List: The self-assessment should help you determine what parts of your career plan aren’t negotiable – whether it’s the need to remain on a certain financial footing, the ability to spend time with a growing family, or the chance to advance up the ranks. Not only will knowing your non-negotiable items help you focus on your goals, it’ll help narrow down the options in a field of opportunity.

  • A Second Opinion: Sure, it’s a “self-assessment,” but as with most other career tools, you shouldn’t do it on your own. Your family needs input, but have you thought about asking co-workers past and present, to make sure you were as effective (or as easy to deal with) in certain circumstances as you remember? What about checking with your professional network to make sure your goals and your potential positions are a realistic match?


Have more questions, or having trouble with some answers? MOAA offers one-on-one career consultations to Premium and Life members; learn more and reach out today.


Download Marketing Yourself for a Second Career


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley