Moving all the time can play havoc on your career. Finding the right professional home is hard. In fact, it often feels helpless and hopeless.
Military spouses’ careers are disrupted as every new assignment takes you to a new city.
When I think back to that first move, I had worked for the same company for 15 years, and I was about to start over. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and what the right professional home looked like for me. Although, it took me a few months to find a job, it ended up being a job I cherished.
For the girl that had her first job in a bakery as a young teenager and had worked every since, searching for a job had me well out of my comfort zone.
Most of my life, people would tell me — the best time to find a new job is when you have a job. Well, that is hard to do when you move every few years.
Since we are at the height of PCS season, and people are moving and looking for jobs, I wanted to share some tips that have worked for me.
The thing that helped me the most has been networking.
Network! Network! Network!
Use the connections you have. Use the contacts you have. Leverage your rolodex. See who you know and who might be able to connect you to someone in your career field. It may take lots of phone calls or coffee meetings but build your network. One meeting may not garner a job lead or offer at the time. But it shows your drive and your connections will remember that.
In addition to networking in person, reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn. Reach out to leadership at companies you might be interested in working for. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and use a professional looking photo.
In all my positions since becoming a military spouse, including the one I currently hold, I reached out. I reached out through my professional and personal network. I sent my resume. I followed up.
When we PCSd here to Fort Hood, I already had a job where I worked from home. I still have that job. I tell people that working from home is a luxury, and companies are finding it more and more acceptable to hire remote employees.
Truthfully, I put in more hours since my office is down the hall. It makes it easy to jump online and check or send some emails (although a lot of my work is done courtesy of my iPhone). I have the luxury of grabbing a few minutes or longer on the weekend to finish up some necessary reports.
Last year, the Institute of Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University released a study called “The Force Behind the Force: A Business Case for Leveraging Military Spouse Talent.” The study examined data on military spouse employment. The examination resulted in ten characteristics military spouses can leverage during the job search.
Here are a few that stuck out to me.
Any company would be lucky to hire a military spouse. The IVMF study shows that military spouses are highly entrepreneurial. Many military spouses operate their own businesses due to the nomadic lifestyle. This is a selling point if you are trying to get a job – you are an independent thinker. You see the big picture.
The study also explained that military spouses are competent and confident multi-taskers. We play multiple roles, we manage moves, and we support our army family.
According to the study there are roughly 1.8 million active duty military spouses, and 5.8 million surviving spouses of veterans and although all are not looking for work, it does provide organizations with a talent pool willing to work hard to find a meaningful career.
Military spouses are resilient, adaptable, and diverse. They can and will make an organization better.
Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and a Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.