A significant part of the military transition is finding new employment. It’s a process that can often take months and require many application submissions, interviews, and follow-up.

One thing I learned in my own post-military job search is that it pays to be organized. And, since you are likely to search for a civilian job more than once, building an effective system now can pay dividends long after your initial military-to-civilian transition is complete.

5 Tips to Streamline the Post-Military Job Search

Here are a few tips I’ve found effective to organize and streamline your post-military job search.

1. Prep the battle space.

Too often, veterans begin carpet bombing their post-military job search without taking the time to determine their desired end state. Instead of rushing in and wasting time and effort applying to jobs you don’t really want, aren’t qualified for, or that you’ll regret later, take time at the beginning of the job search to prepare and focus your efforts. Before you ever attempt to write a resume, you should:

  • Conduct industry research and informational interviews to determine which industry or positions are right for you
  • Learn the language of the industry or company you are interested in
  • Review required job qualifications to determine the best fit for your skillset and interests
  • Research salary ranges for your position, industry, and location
  • Evaluate who is in your network that can assist you in the job search

2. Gather your documents.

Once you’ve done some homework and have identified a few positions you’d be interested in applying for, it is time to gather your application materials. While you will need to write a resume, job applications also often require additional materials. Documents you need for this step might include:

  • Job descriptions you are interested in
  • Your DD-214 Member 4 copy
  • Performance reports
  • Your VMET or military training history
  • Letters of recommendation (three is recommended)
  • Official and unofficial transcripts
  • Proof of certifications

Also, if you don’t have some of the skills required for your desired position, this is the time to look for ways to boost your resume.

3. Create a system.

Once you have a polished resume and other application materials together, it’s time to start applying to job openings. However, a job search can take months and will likely mean applying to many jobs before you land the one you want to accept. Creating a separate folder for each job you apply for helps make it easy to locate these materials when you need them. The folder should contain:

  • A copy of the job advertisement – these are often removed from the website after the application period closes and being able to refresh your memory prior to an interview is critical
  • Your cover letter – this should be the one you tailored to that specific job and will remind you what skills and experiences you highlighted for them
  • Your resume – again, this should be the version you submitted to this specific job and it should be labeled in an easily identifiable fashion
  • A copy of the application, if the company required a specific form in addition to your resume
  • All other documentation you submitted for this job – that could be a list of references, a copy of your SF-86, a copy of your VA disability letter or veterans preference documentation, etc.

4. Track it.

Once you have all of the documents saved accordingly, you need to keep track of what you do with them. Even if you end up applying to a number of companies that don’t extend offers, keeping a spreadsheet of information connected to your job search can come in handy down the road. Include:

  • The company
  • The position you applied for, its salary, location, and other details
  • When you applied
  • Dates, times, and details for any interviews you had
  • The name of anyone who referred you or the name of the recruiter you worked with
  • Any notes from your interview, impressions about the company, etc.

5. Find your force multipliers

It isn’t enough to simply send out resumes, though, especially as most jobs aren’t found through online submissions. Instead, as you go through the job search process, you want to give yourself every opportunity to connect with individuals and organizations that can help improve your chances of landing your ideal job.

But attending every job fair, virtual networking session, and transition event can get exhausting. Instead, identify the events and activities that are most likely to help you in your specific job search and add them to your calendar. Try to schedule events regularly and add them to your spreadsheet with notes about how helpful they were, who you met, and what you learned at each event.


Your post-military job search can be time consuming and exhausting, but it doesn’t have to chaotic. Using a few simple tricks can help you build an organized and effective plan for your search.

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Sarah Maples is a former Air Force intelligence officer turned freelance writer, editor, and coach. She writes regularly on After the DD-214, a resource blog she founded to help her fellow veterans navigate civilian life. You can find out more about Sarah at www.sarahmaplesllc.com on her blog at www.afterthedd214.com.