The U.S. Armed Services is a vast department including many branches, hundreds of departments, and thousands of job titles. Jobs include everything from enlisted service to high ranking officer positions, and spread throughout every branch. Many who are interested in joining the Military are seeking to secure a specific job, though few succeed in making that happen. If you’re interested in one area in particular, take the following steps to be sure that you will actually travel the right route to get there.

Start Young, If You Can

The earlier you know what you want to do, the better. Why? Preparation is key. For example, extra-curricular activities throughout middle and high school can make a huge difference and will set you apart from other applicants, similar to the college application process. Clubs and activities like Eagle Scouts and Jr. ROTC, and ROTC program in college all indicate an interest in military from early on, and speak volumes to Officers who will be considering you for employment. Even if you don’t have a specific idea of where you want to be, involvement in these activities will help ensure that you’re lifted to the top of the stack after application.

Do Your Research

Always do your research. If you want a particular job, why is that? What sets you apart and makes you a great fit for it? What does it require on a day to day basis? You need to be very well-versed in the job itself so that you can ensure that you’re a great fit, and so that you can sell yourself to recruiters and officers in an attempt to secure it. Never go into an interview blindly, only prepared to discuss your preferences and assuming that you’ll be taken seriously. Be prepared to give a thorough answer as to how you know that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Talk to a Recruiter

Have a conversation (or two) with a recruiter before you ever apply. This will help you as you seek out more information on the job itself, and it will ensure that you’re adequately prepared to go through the application process. Recruiters can often give you a behind the scenes look at what the job entails so that you are more prepared to discuss it at length with hiring officers.

Prep for the ASVAB

Every single civilian enlisting in the Military must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Though there are other requirements per specific branch guidelines, this test is necessary to pursue further eligibility for the respective branch of interest.

Failing the critical areas of the test could disqualify you from entering the Service. Beyond that, how high your score is in other areas will determine your specific qualification. A general rule is that a higher score will improve your chances of getting the job you want.

To score well, you must study and prepare. Consider taking several practice tests and then seeking out study guides and help based on your performance.

Going into the military blindly or without an idea of where you’ll end up if you have a preference in advance is a mistake that many often make. Do your research to determine what you can do to prepare for your specific branch, start the process at an early age, talk to a recruiter and prep for the ASVAB.