Military spouses are living in a truly exciting time when more job opportunities are available to them than ever.
Remote work and part-time positions, as well as education and training opportunities catered to fit the unique aspects of military life, have opened today’s spouses to a new world of opportunity.
Additionally, many companies are making pledges to hire more military spouses and veterans and new legislation has been introduced, aimed at enhancing career opportunities for these groups.
However, even with all these resources available, approaching a new career as an active-duty spouse can still be daunting. These tips can help you get started.
Assess Your Situation – What Will Your Career Mean for Your Family?
Communication, compromise and understanding are key to a happy marriage and family. Military families are no different and there are some important questions and factors you need to consider before exploring a new job or education opportunity. The most important of these questions is a very simple one: Are you ready to work?
Perhaps your spouse’s career has caused you to take on more responsibilities at home, keeping you out of the traditional work force for the past few years. With deployments and relocations and the overall fluid nature of military lifestyle, this is very possible.
However, perhaps things are shifting, and your spouse is getting ready to retire from serving or your children are older and more independent.
If this is the case and you’re serious about exploring career options, you need to have an open and honest discussion with your spouse about short and long-term goals to understand what it will mean for everyone if you go back to work. Don’t forget to involve children in these discussions, if your primary role has been as a caregiver in recent years, make sure they understand the potential impacts your new career will have on the household.
Research Your Options and Leverage Your Experiences
As I said before, there are more job options available to military spouses than ever before and many careers can be remote, online positions, which are well-suited to military families’ frequent moves. Before wading into the research and application process, reflect on your previous work and education experience.
If you worked prior to your marriage and/or having children, are you interested in returning to a similar position or industry? Or are you looking to explore a new area? Either way, you need to see what the necessary requirements and qualifications are and look at how your experiences match up. Remember, a field you worked in and are familiar with can change drastically if you are out of work for a few years!
When you begin the application and interview process, don’t forget to leverage all your experiences as examples of why you are qualified for a given position. For many military spouses, this goes beyond previous work experience. Be prepared to discuss how non-traditional experiences can translate to a new career, especially if your employer is less familiar with the military lifestyle. Take advantage of cover letters and comment sections on resumes to provide more context.
For instance, what could be viewed as an “employment gap” on a resume may represent a time when you ran your household while your spouse was deployed or managed a PCS with kids on your own. Additionally, don’t forget to include any volunteer duties you may have performed during these times. Sharing these experiences can reveal many great qualities, such as responsibility, organization, and multi-tasking.
Tap into Your Network and Explore All Resources
Even if you’re unsure about how your experience will match up to your ideal career, the good news is, in addition to more job opportunities for military spouses, there are also more training and education experiences available catered to the military community.
For instance, Microsoft recently expanded its support of military spouses by launching a pilot program that will provide technology training for new career opportunities. Jobs in technology are becoming increasingly popular for military spouses as many of them are remote and portable. In addition to action from major brands, like Microsoft, we’re seeing organizations founded by fellow military spouses, such as MilSpouse Coders, pop up, enabling these individuals to empower their peers with career advice, training, and resources.
Taking a step back from specific industries and career paths, like those in the technology field, there are countless resources available which seek to inform milspouses on the overall job search and application process. LinkedIn created a new military spouses and veterans program that provides free access to premium features, career webinars and training classes.
Additionally, the USO recently expanded its Pathfinder career resources program to include military spouses. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask a prospective employer about training courses, tuition reimbursement, and certification opportunities through their company. Many military-friendly employers offer these to help individuals advance in their new career and it displays initiative and a desire for career advancement when you ask early in the process.
Today’s military spouses can find empowerment in many ways and the combination of flexible work options, new legislation, and corporate initiatives makes it easier than ever to pursue a career at any stage of life. With a clear understanding of their qualifications, the job market and resources available, any spouse can take the next big step to re-explore an old passion or begin a new career journey!
Charlene Wilde is a veteran and military spouse. She is the Assistant Secretary of AAFMAA, our nation’s longest standing military financial services non-profit and a contributor to Spouselink, a site that informs and connects Military Spouses.