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Aim For The Right Target


Aim For The Right Target

You’ve matched your qualifications to the perfect civilian role. Now it’s time to confront your next challenge – the online job application.

Understanding Job Descriptions


Every job listing has a unique job description. Consider it your “mission from higher headquarters,” because as with any mission, you must have a full understanding of what’s expected of you to apply for the right job, write your resume and get an interview.koch-industries-event-reading.jpg


Job descriptions outline the main duties and responsibilities involved in a job. They are written by the company’s hiring manager with assistance from the recruiter and HR personnel, and the purpose is to:

  • Specify necessary skills and abilities to perform the job successfully within certain environmental conditions (your task, conditions and standards).

  • Aid in the development of reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

  • Describe legitimate minimum qualifications (specified and implied tasks).

  • Serve as a reference guide for determining salary.

  • Fulfill the needs of several HR processes, including recruitment, selection and appraisal, and job evaluation and training.


Nothing is more tragic than when you stumble upon an unknown “friendly” minefield that was designed to protect you. Now its effect brings you to a stop. But, if you have the minefield map, you can safely navigate around or through the minefield to continue the mission.

The application is supposed to be a friendly interaction. For many military veteran job seekers, however, the application process presents unknown challenges and complexities. These challenges and complexities are like minefields in that they can absolutely stop you in your tracks.

The job description is like your minefield map. Understanding the purpose of its contents relative to your application and resume will aid you in navigating through the application process.


Practically all applications are completed online.

As simple as the process appears, over one-third of all veteran applicants are automatically rejected.

These veterans’ rejections result from two identifiable “landmines”:

Landmine #1: Required Qualifications. Veterans apply for jobs for which they are not fully qualified:

  • The job description lists these critical “essential” items. You must meet 100% of them or your application will proceed to the virtual trash can without anyone ever reading your resume.

Landmine #2: Irrelevant resume: Veterans write resumes that are not customized to the expectations of the job:

  • The job description presents the responsibilities you will have in this role. Your resume must reveal you have skills and experiences in fulfilling these responsibilities previously.

What’s tragic is that the job description is the minefield map and is often ignored:


Did you know job descriptions can be used to your advantage on your application and resume? Scroll down to learn how.

Use The Job Description To Your Advantage


When you find a suitable job, it’s important to recognize why you are interested. You should continually assess whether this job will help you achieve the things included in your “Top 10." Let’s break it down so you can leverage the information to your advantage.


Job Title

Look beyond the job title. Civilian job titles often look like military job titles, but the requirements could be vastly different.

  • Learn how to translate your military skills in the "Write a Resume" section of this guide.


Consider where the job is located and determine if you are willing to relocate there.

Company Overview

Is this company acceptable to me? Can I see myself here?


Imagine yourself in this role and determine if it will be personally and professionally fulfilling. Consider whether it will help you achieve the things included in your “Top 10.”


This is a listing of the unique characteristics you will need to succeed in this role.

(Note: The hiring manager will expect you to reveal examples highlighting these characteristics in your resume and during your interviews.)

Responsibilities (WHAT yOU wILL DO IN YOUR ROLE)

This is your list of specified tasks. Review them and analyze your ability to perform them –  to standard.

(Note: This is where you identify your specified, implied, and essential tasks.)

  • In your resume and during your interview, you must be able to show competency in the tasks outlined in this section. To learn how to incorporate this into your resume properly, review the “Make it Relevant” section in this guide.

required & Preferred qualifications

Required qualifications are non-negotiable – you must meet them all – but with preferred qualifications, you can meet some or all and still compete for the job.

  • Review the section in this guide titled "The Application” to better appreciate the importance of these qualifications when applying.

Education Requirements

You must meet or exceed the education or certification standards listed.


Do not push this button until you have taken the "Two-Step Test." This will prevent you from applying frivolously, and help you develop a resume that highlights relevant competency.

(Note: The first test confirms you are fully qualified. The second test helps you assess whether you will be comeptitive in this selection process.)


Step 1. Review the Required Qualifications listed in the job description and ask yourself: “Do I meet 100% of the qualifications?”

  • If you do not, then you should start looking for another job.

  • If you do, move to Step 2.

Step 2. Review the "What you will do in the role" daily responsibilities. Then, ask yourself: “Do I have the skills and experiences to do everything that is expected of me on a daily basis?”

  • If not, you may still apply, but chances are you won’t get called for an interview.

  • If the answer is yes, you should get to work on your resume.

The Application


Applications are an important step in the official selection process, and your participation is absolutely required – no matter how badly a company desires your expertise.

YOUR OBJECTIVE: To officially announce your desire for employment in a specific open role.

THE BUSINESS’ OBJECTIVE: To make a legally defensible listing of the applicant’s employment history, educational background, degrees, qualifications, references and more. Most companies use online applications to streamline and simplify this data collection process.

POTENTIAL PITFALLS: Last year, nearly 30% of military veteran job seekers were disqualified because they did not provide proper responses to pre-screening questions. Avoid this stumbling block by following these simple rules of thumb:

1. Required Qualifications: You must meet them all. During the application process, you will be asked to identify whether you meet the required qualifications listed in the job description. Do not apply if you do not meet every qualification exactly as stated in the question. If you do not meet just one of these critical requirements, your application will be automatically rejected. No one will ever review your file or resume, and no one will ever pick up the phone to speak with you.

2. Preferred Qualifications: You can meet some or all.
You will also be asked to identify whether you meet the preferred qualifications listed in the job description. Apply, even if you don’t meet them all. Though you might be competing at a disadvantage, you could get the opportunity to speak to someone and overcome any professional deficiency identified with your answer.



  1. Start applying for open positions three to five months prior to your availability date.

  2. Keep in mind that some military and civilian job titles are similar, but the requirements could be vastly different.

  3. Before you apply for a role, verify your qualifications by taking the Two-Step Test under the "Using the Job Description to Your Advantage" section in this guide.

  4. Adjust your resume to emphasize your skills and qualifications that relate to the daily tasks included in the job description.

  5. Apply directly to that role.

  6. You may apply for multiple roles, but it’s best to apply for roles within your specific areas of expertise.


  • Don’t forget to thoroughly review your application, ensuring that you completed all required fields.

  • Attach your most updated resume.

  • Consider attaching additional documents: DD Form 214, Transcripts, Certificates, Licenses.

  • Alert each of your references.