The Six P's of a Successful Job Search

(U.S. Army National Guard)
(U.S. Army National Guard photo)

Most people are familiar with the five P's of task accomplishment: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. When it comes to career transition and job hunting, however, there are six additional P's to consider.

Career transition elicits a broad range of emotions. From elation to frustration, from glee to disappointment, from pleasant surprise to disbelief -- the typical job seeker will likely experience it all. Keeping the six P's in mind will help you maintain your perspective during this wild ride and enhance your chances of a successful landing. Let's take a quick look at each of the six P's: patience, persistence, professionalism, presentation, politeness and preparedness.


Things will rarely happen as quickly as you would like, and you will need to be patient as you go about your job search. Your priority list will never be the same as that of a potential employer. You have your agenda, and employers have their own. It is highly likely that the only time in your search when the timeline is too fast for you is when you get a job offer and they want an answer quickly.


At first glance, this would seem at odds with being patient. Learning how to balance the two is one of your transition tools. Although that tool starts out a little dull, it will be finely honed by the time your search is over. Being persistent means not giving up, but it also means riding the fine line between demonstrating your level of interest and becoming a pest.

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.


Going into the job search with a high level of knowledge will eliminate many problems before they have a chance to arise. Knowledge of the organization, knowledge of the position and, most importantly, a high degree of self-knowledge are among the most critical elements of any successful career transition.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Job Search section.


Do the right thing. Do what you say you will do. Follow up. Be on time. Return the calls. Honor the timelines and deadlines. Get the application form in on time. Write the follow-up letters. Change your voice-mail message. Be respectful. This one is easy for most military service members.


Look the part. Dress appropriately. Live up to the grooming and appearance standards that are expected of you. First impressions are important, but it does not stop there. Lasting impressions equate to memory, and being memorable matters in an interview. Speak clearly and with confidence, while maintaining your humility. Remember also the messages that are conveyed by eye contact and body language.


Be courteous. Say thanks. Smile. Look people in the eye. Just because someone is sitting in the guard shack or at the reception desk does not mean they are not important. Many organizations go out of their way to see what the administrative and clerical people think about a prospective employee.

There are no earth-shattering revelations here, just common sense and common courtesies. Sometimes however, stressful situations cause us to lose touch with the basics. Remembering the six P's is a good way to stay grounded during your career transition period.

Related: To create a personalized transition plan for yourself, and for transition guides and checklists, visit the Transition Center.

OUT OF UNIFORM: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

Tom Wolfe, Career Coach

© 2012; Tom Wolfe, author; all rights reserved; excerpts from Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition; used with the permission of the author and publisher,

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