Tuning Out the Noise

I’ve talked before about the unsolicited advice you’ll receive from people as you decide to transition, as well as begin the process itself… but as I go through this experience, the voices just get louder and louder.  And I mean LOUD to the point where you can’t even think straight!  Yikes!  I had to take a step back and consciously share less of my life with friends & family, including online, so I could prioritize my career transition and make the best decisions for ME.

There’s just something about a big change in your life that draws people to you like moths to a flame.  Buying a house?  Everyone wants to talk to you about interest rates, neighborhoods, why you shouldn’t buy, why you should buy, and ALL of the horror stories they’ve ever heard.  Everyone’s suddenly an expert, and you don’t want/need to hear it!

It’s the same as you make your decision to leave the military and pursue a civilian career.  Here are a few of the characters you might run into along the way:

  • The Defensive Careerist:  He doesn’t like that you’re leaving the profession he chose to stay with.  He’ll ask you what you’re up to, as if he cares about your well-being, then launch into some of the most terrifying (and probably false) stories he’s heard of former officers who failed miserably in the civilian world.  Unemployed! Divorced! Bankrupt! Homeless!  DEAD!  Just smile and nod, and steer clear.  He’s just trying to feel better about his own personal decisions by convincing himself you’re going to fail.  Probably jealous, too… don’t let it get to you, or make you think negatively.
  • The Lemming: He wants to know all of your secrets… what companies you’re interviewing with, where you bought your suit, what your resume looks like, what the salaries are for positions you’re pursuing.  Sometimes, it comes from a good place; he wants to make a transition someday, and sees you as a model.  On the other hand, it feels like he doesn’t want to do his homework and is happy to watch you work hard for his own benefit.  (*Note: If you don’t want to talk to the Lemming anymore, tell him to read this blog!)
  • The Expert:  He thinks he knows everything!  He has a civilian job, so he must know way more than you ever could about Corporate America.  He’ll tell you how to interview, where the best jobs are, what you need to study.  And 9 times out of 10, his advice conflicts with another Expert that has popped up in your life.  Thank him for the advice, but take it with an entire shaker of salt.  No two experiences are the same.  Seek advice from trusted mentors in your life, and true experts, not just the people who view you as a naive, ignorant soldier who must know nothing about the real world.  There is SO much oversharing in the world…
  • The Mother:  We all have a mother, but in this situation, we end up with a BUNCH.  She’ll text/call you constantly, when you should be focusing on interview preparation or work.  She asks specifics about the companies you’re interviewing for, then starts blabbing to her coworkers and bragging about you.  Suddenly, you’re getting calls/texts from more Lemmings and Experts, when you never even let them know you were transitioning!  Learn to keep mum.  You don’t want prospective employers hearing through the grapevine what you’re saying, or even the competition for a job.  Shut off the phone, and make sure to keep your important loved ones informed, but not overly so.  You don’t really have anything to tell them until you’ve accepted an offer and you’re hired, right?

Look, it’s great that so many people CARE… but it’s not necessarily going to help you.  STAY FOCUSED and don’t overshare information.  Stay positive, despite the naysayers!  Keep your private business, well, private.  Only share your career move with your outer circle once you accept a job offer, and even then NEVER share specifics like salary.  Cut the negative people from your life, and turn to the people who really do care about your best interest, and YOU as a person.  This transition is a time where you see what people in your life are really on your team.

Have you run into these guys yet?  How do you deal with them?


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