Helpful Army Career Advice: Diversify Your Job Experience

Some of the most helpful Army advice I can give you is to “diversify your job experience.”  What I mean by that is that you should do a wide variety of different jobs throughout your Army career to “round out” your experience in order to make you more marketable to the Army and to civilian employers when you are finished with the Army.

Many NCOs and Officers make the common mistake of only having one MOS or one career field.  This really limits their opportunities for upward mobility, especially in the ARNG and USAR.  Most of the successful Officers and NCOs that I’ve personally met had at least two different MOSs and two or more career fields.  You should consider doing the same thing if you want to move up through the ranks quickly.

In the paragraphs below, I want to share a few simple things you can do to diversify your job experience in the ARNG or USAR.

# 1 Bounce Around Units and Jobs

Don’t make the popular mistake of staying in one unit for a long period of time.  Even if you love your unit, you need to move around to meet new people, learn new skills and round out your experience.  While I am a big fan of being a “line” Soldier, it’s also important to have staff jobs and work in non-deployable units from time-to-time.  Try not to stay in one job or one unit more than 24 months.

diversify your job experience
Get as much job experience as you can!

# 2 Get a Second MOS

One of the best things you can do to advance your career is get a second MOS.  Before you pick a second MOS, do yourself a favor and look at the state’s manning roster.  Find out which MOS’s offer the most upward mobility.  The sooner you can get a second MOS, the better.  Let’s face it, some MOS’s have very limited upward mobility. The last thing you want to do is get stuck at your current rank because there aren’t any open positions above you.

# 3 Try New Career Fields

I recommend you have at least two career fields.  The most common career field is operations.  This includes positions in deployable, combat units.  These are the core positions in the Army and they  are very important.  In addition to having an operational background, try to get some additional experience in any of the following career fields:

  • Instructor
  • Recruiter
  • Inspector General
  • Retention NCO
  • Drill Sergeant
  • Band
  • EOD
  • Information Operations
  • Or Anything Else That May Interest You!

By participating in some of these career fields, you will get new opportunities, you will learn new skills, and you might be able to advance your career even quicker.

Whenever I supervised troops during my career, I always tried to teach them this advice.  The bottom line is “don’t be a one shot wonder.”  Diversify your job experience as much as possible.  When you do, you have a huge advantage over someone else who has done the same thing their entire Army career.

What are your thoughts? If you have comments or questions, you can post them below. Thanks.

6 thoughts on “Helpful Army Career Advice: Diversify Your Job Experience”

  1. Good tips on diversifying your resume in the ARNG or USAR. Being well rounded is a key and helps you get a step above when it comes to job prospects. It’s important to constantly acquire new skills while honing your old ones. I really like your advice of no staying in one place for more than 24 months. 2 years is a long time and you don’t want to sit idly. Always be moving forward.

    1. Always be moving forward! That is some great advice. You need to bounce around to different units and have different types of jobs if you really want to move up through the ranks in the Army National Guard. Very few senior NCOs and Officers did one type of thing their whole career did. Some did, but it isn’t all that common.

  2. We have all marveled at people who seem straight out of the Renaissance. They can paint, play golf, cook Japanese, brew beer, create a website, shoot an arrow, complete paperwork in triplicate, solve problems, and give orders and people pay attention. The reason they can do all those things is that they were brave enough throughout their lives to try new things and work hard to get good at them. An NCO or a soldier’s life, full of diversified job and life experiences, can make them noticable, respected, and chosen for more opportunities.

  3. Neil O'Donnell

    I always encourage mentees to try new career fields especially if they have yet to determine their endgame. EOD, Information Operations and Inspector General positions seem like exciting fields to pursue, but any additional paths will diversify a soldier’s skill set and make her/him a greater asset down the line. I suggest getting feedback about positions from those with experience before pursuing a new field.

    1. The secret is to be well rounded. The more valuable you are to the Army, the more job and promotion opportunities you will have. You have to find ways to stand out in the crowd and show that you are a person of value.

  4. The great thing about Army units is that there are always plenty of Additional Duty Appointments. Retention NCO is one of those that I’ve done personally, and there are lots of others–EO representative, safety officer/NCO, unit movement officer, and on and on. Many of these have a training course associated with them that will give you the opportunity to add documented skills to your record. They also show that you’re willing to move outside the small box labeled “This is my job and it’s all I’m interested in doing.”

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