Our military job hunters are the most honorable people in the world when it comes to dealing with strangers during their military transition. I actually have to stop them from telling too much truth to hiring managers when they are looking for a job.
So I'm astounded to find that the very same authentic, scrupulous, honest job hunters will lie like a rug to themselves -- especially when it comes to networking. Here are the five most common lies I hear from job hunters just like you.
Lie No. 1: I'm Not Ready.
The most common lie I hear from military members in transition is that they are not ready to reach out and ask for an informational interview. They believe that "ready" implies that you already have all your ducks in a row; you already know exactly what job you want; you have a perfect resume and an internal referral; and you are getting out of the military in two weeks.
That is not what "ready" means, my friend. That is what "employable" means.
Instead of this lie, tell yourself the truth. To be ready for an informational interview, you only have to answer two questions. 1. When are you getting out? 2. What kind of job are you looking for?
(If you are struggling with question 2, sign up for our FREE Senior Military Transition Master Class on Sept. 23. I'll be teaching a method to answer that question without narrowing your options too soon.)
Lie No. 2: I'm Not Good at Networking.
Newsflash: No one is particularly good at networking, no matter what they are saying on LinkedIn. The truth is, you don't have to be good at networking. You only have to be good enough.
Instead of this lie, tell yourself the truth. Good enough networking is not about cold-calling strangers and stammering out an elevator pitch. It is about deliberately and methodically letting friends and family know when you plan to get out. It is having coffee with an old shipmate or boss. It is having a conversation about getting out with another parent in the pickup line at band practice or on the soccer field.
Networking is signing up for a SkillBridge internship or a Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship or Salesforce Trailhead. It is reaching out to mentoring organizations to ask a question about what it is like to work for their company. All these things increase your network and your chance to get a job.
Lie No. 3: Not Everyone Gets Their Job Through Networking.
Every so often, I talk to a veteran who swears they did not get their job through networking. They saw an advertised job online, applied and zippity-quick got hired. For midlevel and senior military, this hardly ever happens, but it does upon occasion.
Instead of believing this lie, tell yourself the truth. Dig a little. Usually, you will find that someone they interviewed with was also in the military -- not someone they knew personally or even in their own service -- but still in the military. Or they went through a nonprofit military hiring program. Or the company had a military hiring program. They may not have known anyone in the company directly, true, but there was some connection -- and that is actually what networking looks like.
Lie No. 4: I Don't Want to Bother People.
I hear this lie all the time. It sounds really sincere and admirable. The truth is, most people have so much stressful, irritating, boring stuff to do at work that an invitation to talk is a welcome distraction. It is a chance to make a difference.
If you worry you don't know them well enough to ask for an informational interview, check out our networking test. If your contact really is that busy (or secretly doesn't want to talk to you), they simply do not respond. No harm, no foul.
Lie No. 5 : I Don't Have to Network Yet.
Now this one is kind of true. You don't have to network yet. Just like you don't have to exercise, you don't have to lose weight and you don't have to do laundry, you really don't have to network. No one is making you. The police or the tax collector will not be knocking on your door.
Instead of the lie, tell yourself the truth. There is a price to pay for putting off the tasks of transition too long. That's why every veteran you talk to will say, "I should have started transition sooner."
Military transition is hard enough without believing these limiting lies. When you hear yourself saying one of these lies, go back and tell yourself the truth. People want to hear from you. People want to work with you. You can find a place to contribute. Do something to move forward today.
-- 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.
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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.