If you’re serious about transitioning out of the military and finding a decent job, you know there is a certain road to travel.
- Visit your transition office as soon as you can.
- Create a flexible resume that can be easily revised and deployed as needed.
- Make decisions regarding where you want to ideally work, how much you want your salary to be and what it is you want to do.
- Upgrade your wardrobe.
- Network your little heart out.
- Research, apply and interview for jobs.
Throughout the journey, however, there are cleverly disguised killer potholes that can derail your best job search efforts.
Here are seven of the nastiest ones to avoid:
1. Ditch the concept of follow-up.
You work hard to develop a job lead. You nurture it carefully from initial concept to job interview and then nothing. You blindly let nature take its course, assuming that the forces of good will prevail. The employer will know, without a doubt, a subtle reminder or even a thank you note that you are the chosen one. You naively wait for the job offer to show up in your in-box or on your answering machine.
Congratulations. You have just deflated your tires driving through a killer pothole. Had you been watching the road more closely, you would have known that a successful interview alone does not close the deal.
Make your mother and your transition center counselor proud. Send a thank you note reminding the employer of your interest in the job. Give the employer a week or so to reach back to you with some word. If all you hear are the crickets chirping, take the initiative to call back and follow-up.
2. Let sweat get the best of you.
You smile too much. You laugh at the wrong time. You fidget.
In a job interview or in a networking situation, sweat happens. You get nervous because you perceive your future to be riding on the outcome of the event. Your heart pounds faster and you breathe heavier. Your muscles tighten and your blood pressure creeps higher. Adrenaline and cortisol course through your body while that fight or flight theory kicks into gear.
While some job seekers embrace this rush of stress and accompanying sweat, others choke miserably and the results can be disastrous.
The sad reality is that you aren’t always considered for a job simply because of your qualifications. How you handle yourself and whether or not it is felt you would fit in with organization are also factors.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Wear a good deodorant.
3. Be vague. Be very, very vague.
You’re good. You know it. The employer doesn’t need to be told how valuable you could be to his team. He can just read your resume. In a sabotaging aura of confidence, you keep your responses to the one syllable variety.
Yes and no answers, at the vetting stage of the job search game, don’t cut it. You have to open your mouth and spew forth solid examples of what you have done and how your skills could benefit the employer.
Don’t be vague. Be very, very specific.
4. Aim for interview domination.
It may be in your nature to be the alpha dog, but you don’t own the pack yet. Curtail your desire to command and control the situation. Instead, be a charming conversationalist. Speak with, as opposed to, the party in question.
Sit. Stay. Speak but do your share of listening, too.
5. Assume victory.
You’re an optimistic person and that is a good thing in today’s world. Just don’t couple your optimism with naiveté.
You may have completely nailed an interview and are waiting for the six-figure offer to come in. Don’t, however, bring your other job search activities to a screeching halt based on that assumption.
You never ever know what will happen. Funding for your position could disappear overnight. A better candidate might make a last minute appearance. The employer may have second thoughts.
Never assume you’ve landed the job until you’ve actually landed the job.
6. Hold out for the perfect job.
You waited a long time to make the military-to-civilian career move so you want your first job out of uniform to be The Perfect Job. It’s understandable but unrealistic.
There is no perfect job, in or out of uniform. With today’s unemployment, you can’t even hold out for a near perfect job. You take the best job available in your time frame and keep looking, discreetly, for a better one.
7. Stay in the military moment.
The military has offered you a specific lifestyle and language you know all too well. It’s one you are comfortable with and, for better or worse, have come to appreciate.
Don’t assume that others, outside the camouflaged clique, share that understanding or appreciation. Try to recreate the unique esprit de corps as a civilian that you had in uniform and you’ll be sorely disappointed.
When you make the decision to leave the military, embrace being a civilian.