Going from Non-Select to Select (From a 17OT02 Select)

This is one of my follower's story in his own words.  He was a civilian select from the 17OT02 board.
Find a Google Drive here with tools and resources mentioned within this document: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByhsA4Q1GurkXzRuYXQ4XzAteFE?usp=sharing

BOT Profile – Going from non-select to select

It took 18 months to go from the time I started the process to become an officer to the time I was finally selected.  I applied to three different boards.  For the first I was a non-rated non-select.  For the second my recruiter messed something up and my packet never made it to the rated board.  For my third I was selected as a Civilian RPA Pilot.  Between boards I didn’t retake any of the tests, receive any more awards, or do anything super special.  The only two things that I did different was get six hours of flight time and pour over my BOT profile.  Here is what I learned and did.

First, for a reference, my scores (click for larger image):

I don’t mean to boast, but those are good scores.  But remember, I was not selected my first time.  You’ll hear about the “whole person” concept over and over.  Scores don’t mean everything; they are just a small portion of your whole packet.

I received feedback from many people about my first application.  The thing that was said the most was that I was too wordy, and didn’t say a lot with the words that I used.  There was too much fluff.  You can see that when you compare the “Career Achievements,” “Personal Achievements,” “Personal/Outside Interests,” and “Work Experience” portions of the application.  Remember that the board members are looking at hundreds of applications.  If yours is too wordy, they will just start glossing over it without really reading it.

When I revised my “Career Achievements” and “Personal Achievements” sections I made sure that every line was short and concise, and I packed as much into it as possible.  Luckily I was prior National Guard, so I had a few awards that I could put on there.  I also made sure it looked like I was constantly “achieving” something, no matter how big or small it was. There was not a year that went by where I didn’t have some kind of “Achievement.”

When it came to the “Work Experience” portion, I again was plagued with having too much fluff and not enough substance.  I had heard about the Air Force Tongue and Quill guide, and I decided that I was going to follow the bullet statement part of that perfectly for my work experience.  Bullet statements are like a math formula. It goes:

See Chapter 19 of The Tongue and Quill for full instructions.

Air Force e-Publishing Link:

Since the formula for building bullet statements is the same, I made myself an Excel spreadsheet Bullet Builder tool.  You can find that tool in the Google Drive.  This tool built every single one of my bullets for my work experience.  I tried to make sure I had at least two per job.  The Tongue and Quill have a list of action verbs that can be used, so I borrowed directly from there.

Below is an example of before and after I used The Tongue and Quill:


It just feels like the second example just has much more substance to it.

Personal Statement

The last major part of the application is the Personal Statement.  This is probably the most important part to the whole thing.  For my first application, I wrote it like I was writing a school essay; lots of fluff and little direction.  They ask for why you “desire” to become an officer.  I believe that is a trap.  They don’t necessarily care about your desires.  They care about what you are going to bring to the Air Force.

I read lots of personal statements between my applications, because I wanted to be as perfect as possible.  Some people rewrite what is in the achievement and work experience sections, just in an essay form.  I didn’t like this approach very much.  I wanted it to be more like a story with feeling.  If I could move the reader in some way, then I was tying an emotion to my application.  Positive emotion is good when trying to be memorable and get good ratings.  This is what I did:

First, I talked about why the military and why Air Force. There are lots of branches, why did I choose the Air Force.

Second, I wanted to show my leadership potential as early and often as I could in my personal statement.  I used examples of me leading as much as I could, even using the word “leadership” multiple times.

Third, I wanted to show that I embody the Air Force Core Values.  I found a guide called “The Little Blue Book” (find it in the Google Drive) that explained what every single value means to the Air Force.  Without looking too obvious, I hit on how I live each core value, and how they are a part of me.

This may not be a perfect way to write a personal statement, but it worked for me.

Lastly, this may go without saying, but proofread the crap out of the whole application.  Have others do the same.  Have your annoying grammar Nazi friend look at it.  It’ll help.  After all that, I still found a mistake after I had submitted my final application.


You can do this, I know you can.  I did.  Many others have too.  If you were a non-select before, getting selected later is so much sweeter, because you understand the pain of not being selected.  Good luck!

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