Being an Ombudsman I hear a lot of spouses talking about jobs. Many can’t find one or they try to get a federal job through USA Jobs only to get lost in the black hole of the application process. Now, I want to be clear that my knowledge on job hunting simply comes from helping others and not from my own experience. So, while I do not totally understand the frustration of those who aren’t working and want to, I do know the resources to help make it a little easier. In fact I spend a lot of time reading about military spouses employment struggles because I know one day it will also be my struggle. These tips should hopefully be eye opening because I am so surprised of the number of spouses who have spent years married to the military and continue to struggle finding employment with each transfer. Let the struggle and stress be lessened with these tips.
1. Go to your local FFSC and make an appointment with resume counselor. They all have them and most of the resume counselors at FFSC also have knowledge about the USA Jobs’ application process. If you want a federal job these are the people you need to see. I have heard success stories and some not so successful, too. You may need to visit more than one person to achieve what you are looking for but I encourage you to not give up. Being married to the military can be a death sentence on the resume and these specialist can help you make it not look so daunting to employers.
2. Job Fairs!! Go to Hiring Our Heroes website. They have a listing of upcoming job fairs all with employers looking to hire not only our heroes but their spouses, too. This group also has a Facebook page who posts all upcoming job fairs both local and online. Also, go to my favorite place, FFSC. They will also have a listing of local job fairs that aren’t just Hiring Our Heroes.
3. Follow Joining Forces both on their website and Facebook page. This initiative was started for soul purpose in making it easier for military spouses to find and keep their jobs. Stay on top of changing legislation that will benefit your employment status, like jobs requiring a license. Also, there are companies who have agreed to hire military members and their spouses and promise that jobs will be retained upon transfers. It is very important that we, as military spouses, support Joining Forces because these are the changes that will benefit us and support us in the work place.
4. For spouses who are consultants with companies like Pampered Chef, Scentsy and Mary Kay advertise with the housing office. Recently our management company here hosted an open house after some of these spouses asked to have one to help increase their business. It can be so frustrating for some to start over with each move especially because advertising is a challenge. You can’t advertise with MWR, the Ombudsman or FFSC but government housing is different. Stop by the office and leave your information and ask to post flyers at the mail boxes. Spouses, support these milspouses by hosting parties and spreading the word yourselves.
5. Network through social media. Follow Facebook pages run by military groups like Military One Source, Military Spouse Magazine, Hiring Our Heroes, or Navy Housing (or the equivalent) just to name a few. Also, Twitter and Linkedin are good sources for networking. Often times job availabilities are posted here before they even become available. Also, companies like USA Jobs will post and adversities jobs through these sources. I know a few spouses who have gotten offers for jobs because they connected with an old friend through Linkedin. These are good places to say, “Hey, I am moving to Norfolk. Know of any teaching jobs available?” Use social media in a positive way and network your way into your next job.
6. I am not sure how politically correct this will be but never the less it is true. Don’t tell the person interviewing you that your spouse is in the military and on active duty. We are all very proud of them and want everyone to know what they do and all they have accomplished in defending our country but potential employers don’t hear that. They hear you are going to move at any given moment without much notice and they will be back to looking for someone to replace you. I know, it isn’t legal for them to not hire you based on this, nor should they be asking but employers do and they won’t hire because of it. That is just the facts! Instead, say your husband/wife works for the “base” or Department of Defense (or Transportation for you Coasties). If the interviewer pries more wanting details just tell them it is a secret job and you aren’t at liberty to discuss what he/she does. This is a tip I have got from a good friend who uses it and has never not been hired. I also, told this to one wife who was then finally hired after searching for two years because this was what she gave the interviewer.
Finding jobs with our life can be challenging but so many of us want or need them for various reasons. Personally, I started this blog in hopes it will lead to future employment. As military spouses we must stick together and support each other in the fight for jobs. Just because we move often doesn’t mean we are stuck home, there are ways to over come this battle and I hope these tips help. I would like to hear your tips for scoring a job if you have them because I know lots of milspouses work, may more than stay home, I think. As an Ombudsman, I am ask frequently for the resources and I love hearing when they do get hired and how it all went down. One battle won in a war we, the military spouse, fight everyday.
** See the “Resources” page for links to all the resources I have mentioned in this blog and others.