First, transition jobs provide good training ground for future employment

By Carolyn Bennett

FORT LEWIS, Wash. - First-jobs and transition jobs are the "training grounds" that develop advanced skills and qualifications that become the foundation for higher-paying jobs.

Even if a co-worker gives you five-minute's of on-the-job training, and you then perform the function, you can add that skill to the education section of your resume. Employers respect "experience training" found on-the-job. Some prefer it to classroom education.

The business world is a competitive environment, and employers scramble to gain workers who have experience using skills that could benefit the competition. Employers are willing to add new services, products and methods; they'll hire you if you convince them that they'll gain the best methods available.

You, the competitive job seeker, can make create a demand for your qualifications by detailing the specific tasks that you're going to be able to perform when you are hired.

Of course, deliver a competitive resume letting the employer know the kind of work you've done in the past, but even better is to describe your skills as future examples for that employer.

"I'll use my customer service skills to find out from our customers how I can help them, what they believe is fair that we can deliver, so they'll bring us business again."

"I'll perform a weekly audit of our accounts receivable so we get our payments coming in on time, cut costs and increase our company profits."

"I'll sing 'I-am-listening' songs to get our kindergartners' attention so we'll be able to go from one activity to another with ease."

In each of these examples the speaker uses "we," "us" and "our," so the employer will think of the candidate as a team member, with a stake in the company. To be able to sound convincing, you'll need to know your skills, why the business needs them and then be able to explain how they're a match.

Besides closely scrutinizing the employer's job announcement for the necessary skills, you can use the Internet search for the "ONET Online." Just type the job in "Find Occupations" (keyword box), and a list of jobs will appear. Select a job. The related tasks list will then come up on the screen.

The tasks list and other information will help you understand aspects of the job that you might not have realized. They are good ways to make sure you haven't forgotten any skills on your resume.

One no-cost tool to check skills can be found at On this Web site, select "Explore Careers," then "Find Assessments." You'll be able to select from several tools, including those to identify skills, abilities, interests and work importance.

After using one or more of these profile tools, you can focus on jobs in which you'll have a good "fit" and success. As a real plus, the tools can be used to write resumes and letters of application, prepare for interviews, and explore career paths. There's even an "Employability Checkup" feature with which you can choose from many types of jobs, salaries, and locations to make a mix, and then check the percentage of jobs falling in that mix.

A great tool is the Army Spouse Career Assessment Tool found at

Once on the Web site select, "Education, Careers, and Libraries," then select "Spouses," then select "Army Spouse Career Assessment Tool." The ASCAT can assist Army spouses to determine their job skills and work-readiness. Since spouses provide the input, the ASCAT is unbiased and is a particularly valuable job-counseling tool our Employment Readiness Program staff use with clients.

Once you've identified your skills and how the employer can use them, make a list of 10 of them.

Practice talking aloud about your skills and how you will use them. When the time comes for you to campaign for a job, you will remember many strong points on your list and be able to smoothly describe your value to the employer.

Carolyn Bennett works with Fort Lewis the ACS Employment Readiness Program. This story is part of an ongoing series in Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.