Season 2 Episode 78: Fighting Imposter Syndrome with Hayden Barnes

Hayden Barnes served 4 years in the Utah National Guard and 7 years as an Army Infantryman. After participating in the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy in 2021, he landed a great job with an impressive salary at a tech firm in software development management. He has since been promoted and is now making 6 figures, even though he was told by senior military leaders that he’d never make it as a civilian and should stay in the military.

Hayden is very passionate about being a voice of what is possible for junior enlisted servicemembers, especially in the face of the many programs out there that are specifically targeted to senior enlisted, retirees or officers.

Throughout both his military career and his private sector career in tech, he had to make several unplanned pivots and career changes due to many different factors. Part of why he struggled was due, in part, to “imposter syndrome.” Hayden experienced these doubts about whether he was “up to par” with his peers, many of whom he thought had a better background, more training or intelligence in his comparison with them. He learned that he had to stop looking at others and comparing himself and simply focus on his own journey and situation.

Focus on what you have to offer, think about what makes you unique and don’t worry about what you are missing. Fill those gaps in knowledge with additional education, training or certifications and keep moving forward.

Fear is often a tool that is used my more senior military leaders and veterans. Instead of arguing or getting upset at those “scare tactics,” focus on achieving success for yourself. Instead of proving them wrong, simply focus on proving yourself right. Sometimes this a tactic used to keep junior enlisted servicemembers in the military. Consider the fact that those who are often using this fear-based tactic on you are often coming from a place of their own fear or filters that are based on a lack of knowledge, or perhaps they are trying to gain or sell something from these negative tactics.

Hayden discusses some of the transferable skills that he gained in the Army as an infantryman that helped him achieve success in the tech career field. He leveraged his transferable skills, that were not really tech related, as well as what he learned in the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) program.

We discuss some of Hayden’s biggest challenges in adapting to the private sector such as dealing with a more casual and less structured environment. It has been more of an adaptation than a struggle. Be open to the process of adapting to new cultures and new environments, much like you’ve done throughout your career.

After starting as a small project manager, Hayden has progressed through the company into higher level, more strategic roles. He sees his military skills as his foundation, his education and training are the reinforcements of that foundation and he built his career from that. You have to believe in those skills as your foundation and it will help you achieve success after the military.

Hayden goes over what skills he highlighted on his resume. It was not focused on his infantry experience, instead he highlighted his achievements translated into his target industry key words and pain points. Do your research and change the story from military language to corporate terms that your new employers can understand.

Please head to the Lessons Learned for Vets brand new YouTube channel at to hear Hayden answer a BONUS QUESTION about his key to success after his military service.

You can connect with Hayden Barnes on LinkedIn at

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