The 7 Harshest Critics of Veteran Job Hunters

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What is it about job hunting that rips away at your self-esteem and makes you think you will never get a job? Whether you are innocently pondering your dream job, working on your federal resume, scheduling informational interviews or deciding you would much rather be your own boss, the worst critics suddenly appear dripping venom into your ear.

Because that is where the worst critics of veteran and spouse job hunters live: inside your own head. Recruiters and hiring managers are not the worst critics tearing you apart during the job hunt. It's brutal, little you.

In my work training nearly 20,000 veterans, spouses and transitioning military members how to get their next high-impact job, I am always struck by how loud inner critics can be. Inner critics are often so loud, I can hear them on the outside.

To help you silence those guys when they turn up, I've put together this list of the seven worst critics of veteran and spouse job hunters (based on the archetypes identified by Jay Earley, Ph.D., and Bonnie Weiss, LCSW.)

The 7 Worst Critics of Spouse and Veteran Job Hunters

1. The Perfectionist

The Perfectionist is not the worst of the critics. As a career coach, I'm a little bit of a fangirl. Your inner perfectionist is the one trying to make sure you are not judged or rejected. Your perfectionist can help you overcome your reluctance and motivate you to take one of our FREE master classes and learn the real inner workings of the job hunt so you get the good gouge.

The problem is when your inner perfectionist sets such high standards that nothing you do is ever good enough to send out. You are forever tweaking your resume so that when you finally get your resume out there, it is too late.

Conquer the Perfectionist by adopting the Job Hunter's Mantra: Done is better than perfect. Prep a resume template ahead of time so that you are ready to update the checklist section and push send ASAP.

2. The Taskmaster

The Taskmaster is the invisible critic because it seems like a pal. After all, it just wants you to work hard and be successful. It fears you may be mediocre and will turn into a couch potato if it does not push you. What's wrong with that?

Well, if it pushes too hard and too constantly, it turns into a raging nag. This often activates procrastination or rebellion so that you put off doing the tasks of transition. Or introduces the idea that you really ought to wait until after the separation date or retirement ceremony before you get started.

Conquer the Taskmaster by making a running list of all the things this inner critic says. Feel free to use the voice memo app on your phone. Or the notes app. Once the Taskmaster is sure you remember all it said, it stops making such constant and intrusive suggestions. You can also make a list of things you are not going to do, even though the Taskmaster thought them up.

3. The Guilt Tripper

This critic usually pops up when you are starting to network. You know that networking is how veterans and spouses statistically find their next job. But when you get on LinkedIn and see names of people from your work past, you tie yourself up with reminders of how you have not sent Christmas cards in 10 years. Or how you owe them an email. Or how you said you should get together and never got around to it. So they must hate you.

Conquer the Guilt Tripper by reminding yourself of the norms of military transition networking. Everyone expects you to turn up during your military transition after a long absence. It is normal. Just like they had to reconnect with past work friends during their own transition, your veteran friends expect that you will reach out to them, too. You are going to be so surprised at how glad they are to hear from you.

4. The Underminer

The Underminer appears when you are trying to figure out your job level in the outside world. This critic is afraid of you being too visible or too big. It cannot tolerate judgment or failure in any way, so it tries to make sure you don't take chances. This is why you are getting rejected when applying for entry-level jobs.

Conquer the Underminer by talking to peers who got out of the military at the same level. Talk to them about successes on their own path and what they wish they had done instead. Show them a couple of job listings that interest you and ask whether you are on the right track.

5. The Conformist

The Conformist only attacks those who dream of working outside the box. This critic may be the strongest one that I see among military transitioners. It wants to protect you from being abandoned, shamed or rejected. It is especially good at talking you out of trying to be your own boss.

Conquer the Conformist by joining forces with other veterans just like you. Sign up for the Boots to Business course offered by the Department of Labor on your base. Look into the Veteran Entrepreneur Program from PenFed. Attend a conference like Veteran EDGE. Try out for a veteran business accelerator. Join an entrepreneur alumni group like Service Academy Business Accelerator. Surrounded by the norms of your own kind, the Conformist will be able to take a chill pill and relax long enough for you to bring forth the next American Dream.

Take a dip in the possibilities with our FREE master class, Be Your Own Boss: Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Veterans and Spouses on Thursday, May 23, at 4 p.m. Eastern.

6. The Inner Controller

This critic tries to control your impulses, such as eating, drinking, having sex and running away from scary job-hunting tasks. It is often polarized with an Inner Indulger who waits until you get really tired and then thinks up ways to let you do whatever you want.

Conquer the Inner Controller by shaping the environment. Learn more about this by reading James Clear's bestselling book, "Atomic Habits."

7. The Destroyer

The Destroyer lies in wait until you have been out of the military three months and you have not yet landed a job. The Destroyer wakes you up in the middle of the night with pervasive attacks on your fundamental self-worth. It makes you think you are so inherently flawed that you will never get a job and all past success and usefulness was a delusion.

Conquer the Destroyer with a career coach (like me!) or cognitive behavioral therapist (like someone who is licensed as a therapist). The Destroyer withers under the questions of a professional who can help you unearth your self-worth and map out your next steps.

Your inner critics can be so hard on you during military transition, a veteran job hunt or a job hunt spurred by another permanent change-of-station, or PCS, move. Just because the inner critics are talking doesn't mean you have to listen. Identify them first and then take them on one at a time until the positive job-hunting actions stack up in your favor.

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