5 Terrifying Military Transition Lies You Tell Yourself

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As a transitioning service member, if you think a recruiter, talent sourcer or hiring manager is lying to you, they probably are. Trust your gut. Check your facts. Act accordingly. But know those lies are not your biggest transition problem.

As Military.com's transition master coach, I can tell you that the lies you tell yourself -- like the lies you tell yourself about networking -- are the ones that are getting in your way.

These are the lies your brain manufactures as an effort to protect you from the excruciatingly painful process we call job hunting. The only glitch is that these lies that are supposed to protect you can prevent you from getting the job you want.

Here are the five most common lies I hear from transitioning service members, spouses and veterans, along with my tips on how you can calm your brain and get back to the job hunt fast.

1. I'm Not Trained to Do Anything.

After a job fair last year, I asked a client who was a senior leader how things were going. "I have this terrifying feeling I'm not trained to do anything," he told me. He was not kidding. Even with 25 years of experience and success, he was mystified about how he was supposed to use those skills in the outside world.

His lying brain was sure this spelled doom. His lying brain was wrong. I knew his uncertainty meant he had probably trolled just enough job sites with strange job titles and unfamiliar requirements that he scared himself into stupefaction.

SOLUTION: If you are caught in this same lie, get out of that quandary by making three appointments with friends or former colleagues who already left the military or who work in an industry or location that interests you.

Instead of going into the meeting and expecting them to tell you what to do, use your online research to come up with a list of specific questions about different roles in their companies. Just figuring out what level you should apply to goes a long way toward feeling like you are on the right path.

2. Seriously, I'm NOT Trained to Do Anything.

The recruiting ads make it look like the military is going to give you job skills for the 21st century. Your brain takes that to mean you are going to leave the service in five years as a cybersecurity paratrooper with abs of steel who can barbecue an ox for an adoring crowd.

Well, the truth is that the military does train you for a job: your military job. Whether or not your MOS or rating actually applies to a job you want to do in the outside world is anyone's guess. This fact makes your lying brain declare that you wasted your years in the military, and now you are trapped forever in a dystopian world of misery, despair and zombie dogs nipping at your heels.

SOLUTION: Roll back the drama. (I can say this because I am the most dramatic person you know.) The truth is, your first five years in the military taught you most of the stuff you would learn on the job in the outside world anyway -- like showing up on time every day, finishing stuff on deadline and getting along with crabby people. You just sweat a lot more than your civilian peers, and you look better.

The difference is that unlike your civilian friends, your veteran status gives you avenues to certifications, degrees, training programs and hiring programs they only dream of. Best of all, you will be eligible for many of these programs for decades. Well done, you.

3. I've Spent Enough Time on My Resume.

This statement is not a lie if you are getting regular calls to come in for an interview. This statement is not a lie if what you really mean is, "I've spent enough time diddling around moving commas on my resume and switching fonts."

This statement is a lie if this is something your devious brain is telling you in order to keep you from tailoring your resume to every single job so you can binge-watch "Bridgerton."

SOLUTION: Take our FREE Reverse Resume for Veterans or Reverse Resume for Spouses class, where I teach you how to write a checklist resume so you only have to change a very small portion of your resume to make it fit each job application.

4. I Need a Big Block of Time So I Can Work on My Transition.

I know it feels like you should wait to work on your resume until you have a block of free time. Guess what? No one has a big block of time in the military. Unless you got fired. Or stashed. Even then, you are probably still telling yourself you need a big block of time for transition when it is simply not true.

SOLUTION: At 30, 40, or 50, life is going on so fast around you that there is never a big block of time. We have to create in the middle of things. You can get a huge amount of transition work done in half an hour. Or take the shortcut by watching a strategic episode in our FREE Military Transition Master Class series on video.

5. Seriously, I Don't Have Time.

Your brain is probably having a fit, claiming that you are the one person in the military who legitimately does not have time to work on your looming transition, because you are the only person who can fix that kind of helicopter in the entire Army. Or you are the captain of a ship. Or you have nine kids under three years old.

No matter what your brain is telling you, time is not the problem. The problem is that transition tasks create a lot of anxiety, because you must make so many choices. And choices require change. And change always includes loss of one kind or another. No wonder you can't find time for those tasks.

SOLUTION: One of the ways around anxiety caused by transition is to do small things. Research shows that you can break through do nothingism by doing anything. Absolutely anything. Make your bed. Unload the dishwasher. Open your resume document. Message a friend on LinkedIn.

Once you are doing that small thing, the next thing comes easier. This is why I like the phone as a transition tool. Make a running list of small tasks you need to do so you don't have to think of the next right thing.

Our brains are always going to be busy protecting us from doing things that represent too much risk, but transition is not too risky. Once you get started, each task leads to something else until you wake up one morning at the next right job. The sooner you let yourself get started, the sooner that day will arrive.

Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.

Learn More About the Veteran Employment Project

To get more tips on how to make a successful military transition, sign up for one of our FREE Military Transition Master Classes today. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.

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