- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

The Education of Self

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Trans World Radio (TWR)

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Educating yourself about companies - known and unknown - and jobs - also known and unknown - will improve your odds of finding the right match the first time. Sounds logical, but now the tough part: How do you do this? Here’s a good way to start.

Much can be said for initially interviewing for everything for which you’re qualified, either because you already know you’re qualified or trusted advisors tell you you’re qualified or an employer believes you’re qualified. As you learn more about these options, you’ll also learn more about yourself. Your understanding of the job and career path will be enhanced, your level of interest in each will build or wane, the picture will clarify and an elimination process will begin. Cross off the job categories that do not interest you and focus on those that do. And this process works both ways. If you’re rejected every time you interview for a particular type of job, maybe you should reconsider your suitability for that position.

A certain amount of this self-education process occurs before the interviewing phase of the job search begins. Although research, information interviews, and informal discussions with family members and friends can give you a sense of what’s out there, for most people it’s the actual interview that produces the most important information. One way to view this phenomenon is to consider a job hunt as an information-gathering and self-knowledge enhancement process, a by-product of which is the job offer you really want!

By the way, this “interview for it if you are qualified for it” approach works only if you maximize your self-education and awareness. The preparation - enhanced self-knowledge - is critical. When faced with the question “Why do you want to be an XYZ?” you can comfortable reply, “I am interested in XYZ because I will be good at it and it will be good for me and here is why (finish the sentence by emphasizing your skills and traits that are the most XYZ appropriate)." For more on this approach, several chapters from my book “Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition” are dedicated to this subject.

In closing, perhaps Socrates said it best and definitely most succinctly: Know Thyself. Thanks for your service and good hunting!


Tom Wolfe is a Career Coach, Columnist, Author and Veteran and can be found at

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