Your best friends might be the worst enemies of your job hunt -- which is surprising to most military members in transition.
After all, your family, friends and colleagues want you to get a great job even more than you do. Yet some of the things they do might accidentally hurt more than help you. In my work as a transition coach for senior military, I keep seeing these five ways people who like you can trip you up on the job hunt:
1. They are still active duty.
From the first days at boot camp, Officer Candidate School or a service academy, to the last days of TAP, peer groups in the military look to each other for information. While there is a certain safety in this model, it is limited because peers often know only what you know. Be sure to fact-check what you hear at work with former professional colleagues who have been in the civilian world for a couple of years. There is no substitute for the transition lessons of someone you know well.
2. They might be lying about salaries.
In the military, it is easy to know what everyone makes. Salaries and bonuses are a matter of public record. In the civilian world, not only is there a lack of transparency about how much people earn, there is a taboo about asking. This uncertainty can trigger a friend to help you by making a guesstimate, exaggerating or even telling a lie. Friends can contribute helpful data points on salaries, especially if they are in your target industry or company. Still, do your due diligence and compare salaries online via Glassdoor, Indeed, Salary.com, SalaryExpert or PayScale. While none of these resources is completely accurate, they will be able to help you identify your target salary range.
3. They will not give you time to work on your transition.
No one wants you to stop working so you can take time to complete the items on your transition checklist. While everyone tells you to start transition early, the truth is that the work keeps coming, new fires need fighting, and someone has to volunteer at the swim meet. Granted, you are indispensable at work and at home, but the only person who can work on your transition is you.
4. They tell you what you want to hear.
While everyone tells you to get feedback on your resume, they do not tell you my cardinal rule: NO ONE WANTS TO READ A RESUME. I suspect that recruiters don’t even like reading resumes. Consequently, your friends and family skim your resume and tell you it is fine. As far as they know, it is fine. After all, they did not read the job listing, so they have no idea whether you are using your resume to demonstrate how you are the perfect fit for the job. Try a service like JobScan.com to compare your resume directly with the job listing.
5. They aren’t you.
Your bosses depended on you for a lot of things. Maybe you were the one who could solve complex operational problems. Maybe you were the person who could make everyone play nice in the sandbox. Maybe there was no personnel issue you could not solve. If you have a halo over one particular role, everyone is going to want to send you out in the civilian world to do more of the same. But did you really like doing those jobs? Do you want to do them again? No one knows what you want better than you do.
Friends, family and colleagues are a great source of support during transition, but don’t stop there. Reach out past your comfort zone to get a higher level of information.
Jacey Eckhart is a career transition coach known for her ability to connect senior military (officer and enlisted) to their next high-impact career. Trained as a military sociologist, her professional focus is on veteran employment, spouse employment, and long military marriage. She has more than 20 years of experience designing workshops for active-duty members, reservists and the National Guard, including Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force and all their wonderful families. For more information, visit No Regret Military Transition or email Jacey.