MilSpouse Employment Transitions Advice
By: Karin Durkee
As a Military servicemember transitions to the civilian workplace, their focus is on the job search. However, if that transition involves relocation, the spouse may also likely be in job search mode.
The numerous moves throughout a military service member’s career can cause barriers to the military spouse’s job search, as can be seen in the 26 percent military spouse unemployment rate. However, along with many resources that exist for military spouse job seekers, there are ways to turn these barriers into positives, or at least minimize their impact on a transitioning military spouse’s job search.
Explain Gaps in Employment
If you have gaps in your employment due to your military service member’s frequent relocation or deployment, be sure to explain these gaps to employers. Gaps are understandable to an employer if they know your situation, so be open about the sacrifices you’ve made for your military service member’s career and our country. If your military service member is leaving the service, you could mention this in your cover letter so the prospective employer won’t have the concern of you being relocated again.
Include Community Service
Fill the employment gaps on your resume with any volunteer services that you performed on base or in the community. Describe your volunteer work in business terms, being specific about the skills you used and the numbers involved (e.g. – organized and implemented a fundraising event involving 400 people and raising $15,000 for families in need).
Emphasize Your Military Experience
As a military spouse, you have experience with military terminology and the military culture. Include this on your resume and in your cover letter, as appropriate, for the job you are targeting. This is especially useful if you will be seeking employment with a company that works closely with the military, e.g. a defense contractor, government agency, or a company with military clients.
Use Social Media
As we tell all our job seekers, get connected using Linkedin (we can’t say it enough)! Not only are recruiters using Linkedin to find candidates, but it’s also a great resource for support and mentorship. Search on keywords such as “military spouse jobs” and “military spouse network” to find and join spouse groups. By participating in group discussions you will gain information and support from those in your similar situation and open doors to possible job opportunities.
Research the Fastest Growing Industries
If you are considering a career change, research the fastest growing industries to see if any are a good match for your interests and/or skills. A list of the fastest growing occupations to the year 2018 is found in this chart developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. It includes the significant training/education needed for each occupation. The employment projections chart confirms what we know is the major trend for the best jobs of the future – they all require greater investments in education and training.
Consider More Education/Training
There is currently a wide-spread effort by schools to accommodate active-duty service members, veterans, and their spouses. Consider getting a certificate or degree for the career you are targeting. A recent survey by The Army Times on Best Schools for Vets 2013 provides annual rankings of colleges doing the most for military veterans (and spouses!). The lists include the top 4-year colleges, online-nontraditional colleges, 2-year colleges, and career and technical colleges.
Military spouses tend to have valuable skills and characteristics (independence, flexibility, selflessness, patriotism, leadership) from the military way of life that set them apart from most civilians. Okay, I might be a bit biased being a military spouse myself, but I think your strengths should be emphasized and your service to our country should be made an asset in the job search.
Karin Durkee is a military spouse whose husband retired after 22 years of service. She is the Social Media Director for Corporate Gray and enjoys presenting workshops to local Washington, D.C. military installations on Using Social Media in Your Job Search.