10 Job Search Mistakes Veterans Make

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  • You find a misspelled word on your resume too late to change it.
  • Interview jitters cause you to sweat too much.
  • You dress for distress rather than success.
  • You got the employer’s name all wrong in an embarrassing kind of way.

These are painful job search mistakes but they are minor ones in comparison to the big picture blunders that can cause you far more than simple embarrassment – they can keep you from finding a job altogether.

1. You deny the reality of the job search. You won’t admit it to just anyone, but you’re scared. You’re scared of leaving behind the career and lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to for unfamiliar territory.

Rx: It’s an understandable fear and you wouldn’t be the first one to experience it. It can be stressful to make a significant change in your life but it’s going to happen one way or the other. Bottom line? Embrace that you’re in unfamiliar territory and face down your fear.

2. You think you know it all. You are, after all, an intelligent person who has enjoyed a successful military career. You have skills. You’re worldly and educated. You have a bright and shiny future in front of you and you don’t need anyone’s help.

Rx: Perception and reality are at odds here. You just don’t see it. You might not need as much help as the utterly clueless guy, but put on your savvy hat and take any help you can get, whether you need it or not. Take it in the name of relationship building and give it back to someone in need later. Everyone will benefit.

3. You won’t settle for anything less than a perfect job. You’ve waited for what seems like forever to leave the military. Everything must be perfect. You will not accept any job or salary that doesn’t match your mental gold standard.

Rx: Prepare to be disappointed. There is no perfect job. You may even land one that seems like one at first but that blissful honeymoon feeling will eventually fade.

4. You limit yourself. For years, you’ve been told where you will go, what you will do and how you will do it. Not anymore. Now you are going to call all the shots and you have some very specific parameters.

Rx: It’s good to have a crystal clear vision of what you want to do and where you want to do it. Don’t, however, let that vision be so focused that you neglect to consider other opportunities along the way. Tunnel vision doesn’t work towards your advantage.

5. You take the rejection too personally. You’re not used to hearing the word no and you don’t like it.

Rx: Nobody likes to hear “thanks, but no thanks” but you may hear in your job search. Don’t take it personally. It’s business. An employer will either offer you the job or not. There may be any number of reasons why you aren’t selected, to include personal ones. Nevertheless, don’t take it personally. Move on.

6. You procrastinate facilitating your transition. Your boss has given you the green light to devote your time to your transition. And yet, you hang around the office when you could be off somewhere revising your resume or searching for jobs.

Rx: Begin the process of understanding that the military will survive without you. It can be a difficult concept to internalize, but it is one you have to accept.

7. You stress over the little stuff too much. Your resume has to be printed out on watermarked stationary. Your interview suit must be a designer one. You have to arrive precisely 15 minutes ahead of time for the interview and your daily horoscope has got to show the moon and stars are aligned perfectly that day before you leave the house.

Rx: Little stuff to you is big stuff and it matters. Minding the minor details is a good thing because details do count. Being paralyzed by them, on the other hand, is counterproductive.

8. You make assumptions. Someone you know, having a similar skill set and work background, successfully transitioned out of the military and into a six-figure job. You’re set. No worries. Game on.

Rx: Time out! Just because someone you know lucked into a good job doesn’t automatically mean you will too. Remember what they say about assumptions…

9. You fail to do the research. You feel like you have a good grip on the basic facts. No need to do the research so you don’t.

Rx: Whether you are researching salary levels or trying to learn more about a potential employer, don’t skimp on the research. You might overlook a fact that can make all the difference during an interview.

10. You listen to others when you should be listening to your own gut. Everyone knows what is best for you and they aren’t shy about telling you. You listen to everyone.

Rx: It’s perfectly fine to listen to everyone as long as you make the decisions based on your own gut. Everyone won’t be living your life. You will.

Janet Farley is the author of the Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc, 2012). She writes the JobTalk column for the Stars and Stripes newspapers.

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