Teresa Shipman is the branch manager for the Army Community Service Employment Readiness Branch, an agency that provides cost-free job seeking services to all ID card holders.
Shipman said the biggest barriers to employment for military spouses revolve around the resume and the interview.
“It’s very important to target your resume to the job announcement,” she said. “Generic resumes don’t (speak) to the employer ... you need to talk the employer’s language (and) talk specifically to your skills.”
For spouses, Shipman notices that many do not elaborate on the skills their experiences gave them, be it employment experience or volunteer work. “Someone can just write FRG leader, but articulate that experience,” she said.
Shipman’s agency offers weekly resume workshops, one-on-one resume assistance, online tutorials, job fairs, career assessments and interview success workshops. The resume services and job bank are the most utilized tools, she said.
The Army Community Service Employment Readiness Branch assists more than 25,000 people annually through events, with more than 1,100 job seekers monthly at its on-post career center. The office features employers who are Military Spouse Employment Partners, a component of the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program. These companies are committed to hiring spouses.
“They know spouses are a talented pool with skills. We work religiously to educate employers about spouses,” she said.
In 2013, more than 75 percent of people secured employment after using the branch’s services, Shipman said, and more than 50 percent secured employment at their job fairs.
Another factor to consider when seeking employment is online presence. Start with a work-appropriate email address and voicemail message, Shipman said. “It’s real. HR will start formulating opinions about you,” she said, simply based on your email and phone number.
Spouse Amy Cyr agrees with that assessment.
“When I was a recruiter ... doing interviews, you’d always hear them say, ‘How long is this person going to be here?’ It’s illegal, but it’s always in the back of their minds,” said Cyr, who has experience in human resources.
Cyr encourages military spouses to seek employment with national companies, which may allow transfers along with their soldiers’ career movements.
Shipman cautions job seekers to hone in on no more than three career fields. “Otherwise, you’ll land a career by chance, not choice, and be dissatisfied.”