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How to Articulate my KSAs without eliminating myself from an opportunity


Martha Foss Huntsville, AL

As a transitioning career Army Attorney, how do I articulate my knowledge, skills, and abilities in a way that informs potential employers that I am open to new opportunities, including non-legal positions, without sounding too indecisive?

16 November 2020 7 replies Military to Civilian Transition



Wayne Peck Austin, TX

Hey Martha, the key is to have multiple resumes. Tailor them towards the type positions that you are applying for. You might explain the same skill or accomplishment in different ways depending on the job you are applying for.

16 November 2020 Helpful answer


Frank Cristinzio Washington, DC

Colonel - Thanks for serving. I transitioned as an O-3 some time ago and made multiple job changes since. I will offer one perspective that you will need to tailor a resume to a specific company / organization, role, or job description. In being targeted enough the make the top of the pile to get an interview, you avoid be indecisive.

For example - you are most likely to get hired for the KSAs from your last 10 years in the service, maybe even more so your last 5 years. In your resume and LinkedIn profile, focus most of the valuable space on those years.

Another strategy is to focus your professional narrative on outcomes you want to achieve for your next employer - i.e. if you are great builder and leader of legal teams discuss what you have done in recent roles to build those teams, and how it led to increased productivity, retention, etc. Give clear examples. If you want to build a compliance program - how are you going to do that? What insight do you have from previous roles? If you want to run a procurement legal team - what are going to do to help that organization build the best team ever. You will need to use keywords relevant to their industry where possible. You need to at least show that you understand the mission and goals of their organization.

I would also recommend looking at LOTS of LinkedIn profiles from professionals that are in jobs you want to be in. Lots of their profiles will be sparsely filled out because they are not on the hunt maybe, or just don't care to tell their story. 1 in 20 will be highly curated and carefully crafted and you can emulate them. A strong digital identify is going to be important. Your digital identity will be researched at the very least on LinkedIn, and possibly also on other platforms.

Thanks again. Hope this is helpful perspective. Thanks for a career of service.

16 November 2020 Helpful answer


Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!


Alexander McCreary Kennesaw, GA

Hi Martha, I think there is quite a bit already here that's really helpful, I would note this is a typical conundrum when you're not quite sure what you want to do (I am presuming this; you say 'indecisive'). I think you should maybe consider a handful of roles, reach out to people on LinkedIn in those positions to genuinely discuss what they "do." Determine if its right for you, and edit your resume to reflect what you talked about. Network, apply, but mostly network.

I think what is most important is really knowing exactly what you actually want to do.


Thomas Schott Bradenton, FL

I understand the challenge that you are having trying to show all of your experiences. Like you, I have 30 years Army experience in Logistics and Acquisition (Active and Reserve though), as well as a technical and IT project management civilian background. For me, I've combined in my two page CV, my positions and responsibilities/accomplishments in both military and civilian roles. I write only enough to get people interested, and use a cover letter to call out other experiences that make me suitable for a specific position. I also use LinkedIn to provide more detail of my experience. I think a hiring organization that might be considering interviewing a person will have reviewed this profile before making a final decision.

Always happy to discuss more if you like.


Susan Hallen Elk Grove Village, IL

I agree with Frank's ideas wholeheartedly. A generic resume will be seen as indecisive. I have changed jobs and careers many times, but focusing on specific areas and applying your experience to that is powerful. If you want to move out of legal but want to run a team, frame your legal teaming in more applicable terms...the skills apply across business areas.
Focusing your Linked In should be done by changing the terminology you use and the focus areas you discuss. Happy to review/help as needed.


Martha Foss Huntsville, AL

When you're applying for a specific opening, I agree with you. But what if you are networking and they say, "Send me your resume?" I have tried to write my two-page resume to reflect my full experience, but it definitely pivots more towards pure legal work since that was the majority of my duty assignments and the highlight of my education.

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