You’ve decided to get online and post your profile.  There are many ways to tell your story.  You can keep it short.  You can elaborate more on what you did (as long as it’s unclassified).  You can make it entertaining.  You can post a profile photo.  You can post examples of your work online for others to see.  An online profile is a great tool in your kit, and it’s very efficient.  Rather than spending money on gas, pounding the pavement, and going into offices to drop off a resume, the efficiency of the internet helps you reach out and show off your stuff from your chaise lounge.

It’s time to ask yourself a few questions before you post your profile for the public to see.  What do you want to do? Do you know what kind of work you’re looking for?  What is the story you want to convey to get that work?  Are you willing to commit the time to keep your profile up-to date?  Do you even know how to update your status?  And how are your online networking skills?

the most important question – what career do you want?

The most important question you need to ask yourself is:  “What do I want to do?”  You’re the protagonist in your story, and you need to get a storyline for yourself in place.  If you’re one of those people leaving the military with a sense of purpose and direction, then great, this will be easy.  But for some folks, this question is harder than it should be.  Specialists, like, say, Missileers (ICBM launch officers), may have some difficulty, because the answer might not be immediately apparent.  The civilian world doesn’t need someone who has expertise in nuclear weapons command and control, and in wreaking Armageddon on a global scale.  So what is a Missileer to do?

Try looking at the other things a military person learns and does while serving the USA.  The most obvious skill will be leadership.  But that will not be enough, because if you look around, there are a lot of “leaders” out there.  And leadership also implies management, but what kind can you be?  A general manager?  A project manager?  Did you teach other Missileers in the squadron?  Did you write test questions?  Then curriculum development might be the way to go.  But hopefully you get the gist here:  look through your achievements and positions, and figure out what skills you learned and what they really mean in the civilian world.  More to the point:  what did you enjoy when you were in the military?  Your research and answers may help you decide what post-military career to pursue.

avoid rehashing performance review points

With your profile story in mind, you need to start crafting it.  This story should be clear and concise.  And the story isn’t “Kryptonite is my only weakness.”  You see, there are a lot of other supermen out there, and a lot of them are saying the same thing you’re probably tempted to say.  You’re not the only one with that stack of performance reviews you wro…, er, your boss wrote praising your performance as a military team member.  So all you have to do is copy what your “praise-bullets” into your profile, right? Wrong.

Quite a few others are doing the same thing.  A lot of them might not be saying it very clearly, or worse, saying it the way they said it in the military, which will confuse potential non-military hiring managers.  Why keep yourself at that level?  The objective is to exceed the confusion of background noise, and get noticed.  So you need to have a story, one that rings loud, clear, and true to whoever is interested in your story.  Maybe, then, copying your review bullets into your profile isn’t what you should do (unless you’re dealing with bullets vetted by the security office—that’s a different story).

Keep in mind, when you apply to positions you are applying for a specific job – and your resume and cover letter must reflect that. When you’re building your online profile, you’re telling the story of your career. So you can be a bit more broad, and a bit more conversational. But you absolutely need to set yourself apart from other profiles a recruiter might see – and the first step in doing that is making sure you know what you’re trying to convey.

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John Holst’s career path is as nonsensical and mad as the March Hare. In a series of what John thought were very trusting decisions, the United States Air Force let him babysit nuclear weapons, develop future officers, and then operate multi-billion dollar space systems. Then John re-enacted scenes from “Brazil” by joining the Missile Defense Agency, working as minutes-taker, configuration, project, mission, and test manager. When he’s not writing for, he is putting his journalism degree skills to use as The Mad Spaceball.