Military.com | By Jacey Eckhart
Are you secretly hoping to land your dream job after military transition? You are not asking for the impossible, after all. After the hard work of the past 10, 20, even 30 years of military service, you want a dream job where you work with great people, on a project you believe in, for fabulous money.
Did You Know This “Dream Job” Might Hold You Back?
Super weird, I know. As the transition master coach for Military.com’s Veteran Employment Project, I want everyone to be as happy in their civilian job as I am in mine. (A true dream job!)
Yet I have seen how the idea of a dream job might be holding you back from getting the work and the life you want.
7 Ways Your Dream Job Might Be Holding You Back — and How to Fix it Fast
1. The Military Was Your Dream Job.
Once upon a time, the military was your dream job. Remember that? Maybe you were just a third-grader on career day or a high school senior without a life plan, but once you dreamed of flying a jet, fighting for your country, joining Special Forces, getting command of your own private submarine, getting money for college or becoming Captain America himself. All good dreams.
I bet you attained a version of that dream during your career (along with all the costs of the dream like the long hours, the deployments, the risks, the disappointments, the modest paycheck). This experience often makes veterans discount the value of pursuing a dream job, especially if you didn’t exactly get what you planned for.
As Military.com’s transition master coach, I have found the work of a dream job for veterans is not to attain one particular job, but to fuel your courage to move forward into an unfamiliar, uncertain world. Like you need to do right now.
2. You Think People Only Get One Dream Job Per Lifetime.
For those of you who did get the dream job during your military career, you often expect that you won’t ever be able to top that moment professionally — so you would be a fool to try.
That is a dangerous story to tell yourself during military transition. You risk allowing that story to become the only thing that is true. We all know people who are bitter about their post-military career.
While it is true that the exact military constellation of people/mission/urgency/spiffy uniform is not available on the outside, it is also true that there is more than one kind of dream. You are allowed to have more than one dream job per lifetime. (I’ve had three so far.)
Open yourself to the idea that there are other dream jobs out there for you. You just don’t know what they are yet, because you don’t know what is available.
Sign up for our newest FREE Master Class: How To Identify Your Dream Job on Thursday, January 26 at 4pm EST.
3. Your Dream Job Is Too Vague.
I often hear people say they will do anything after transition, as long as they are paid a lot of money for not doing a lot of work. This is not a dream job. This is a well-disguised nap.
Avoid this misstep by making a list in a notebook or on your phone about what a dream job would look like for you and how it fits into the next chapter of your life. Define it. Keep coming back to the exercise until your vision is solid. One quick way to figure this out for yourself is with our Find Your 40 System – which also helps you evaluate your job offers.
4. You’ve Heard You Should Not Settle for Less Than a Dream Job.
One of the markers of transition is that everyone gives you their After Action Report. That is not a bad thing. You can learn a lot from the lessons of other people who have gone through transition.
However, they almost always tell you that they should not have “settled.” That they should have held out for their dream job.
This is hilarious — and poignant at the same time. When we look back on our actions, we almost always look back through the 20/20 lens of hindsight. Veterans forget that there is a window of employment after military service. Timing is a relentless factor in transition.
If your dream job is not available the moment you get out, you are not qualified for it yet or you don’t know what it could be, find the best place to land for now. Keep looking for opportunities to get the work you want most.
5. Your Dream Job Must Be in a Leadership Position.
So many people in the military expect to walk right into a leadership position — director, vice president, CEO. We could get all wrapped up talking about the emptiness of a title, or we can realize when a transitioning military member mentions a title, it is merely a symbol for what they really want: Leadership.
Specifically, they want the kind of leadership they experienced in the military — one that involves decision-making, but also mentoring, team building, problem solving, and big-picture thinking and influence.
That kind of work is admittedly hard to find on the outside, but it can be grown over time. Collect stories of military members like you who have worked their way up into leadership positions on the outside.
6. You Believe Dream Jobs Are Offered, Not Made.
So many transitioning military think they need to set their sights on a dream job as if it is a job title. They think that if they work hard and they are worthy, surely someone will offer them a dream job. That is not how dream jobs work.
Even if you get an unbelievably good offer, there are always factors you had no idea even existed (which is what makes “The Firm” a terrifying book that will keep you up at night renouncing your BMW dreams.)
So often, veterans tell me that the first year or two of transition were tough. Then things started to come together until they could create the kind of dream job they were hoping for.
7. You Can’t Put Your Dream Job into Words.
What kind of job are you looking for? The world expects that you will put this concept into words the minute you announce that you have started transition. That is silly. You don’t even know what is out there for you yet.
That is why we put together our newest FREE Master Class Identifying Your Dream Job on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m. EST. I have three exercises to teach you that will help you get started on identifying your next high-impact job — and turning it into your dream job. Sign up 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.