It is no secret that military spouses face higher unemployment rates than the national average at 16%, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2017. This number does not take into account that quite a few military spouses have to settle for jobs that they are over-qualified for and underpaid.
The struggle to acquire employment increases as spouses move overseas with their activity duty service member. Although most spouses appreciate the experience of seeing other parts of the world, most also feel the desire to continue their careers or contribute financial support.
If you are one of those spouses, I asked quite a few military spouses for advice on how to stay employed at every duty station.
Tip 1: Keep your resume updated. Every new experience and new skill acquired needs to be on your resume and ready before moving to your next duty station. I suggest keeping it updated on Google Drive or another portable drive that you can access anywhere. Definitely keep an updated resume on USAJobs. Visit your duty station's family support, Army Community Services (ACS), Airmen and Family Readiness Center (AFRC), Marine & Family Programs (MFP), Fleet and Family Support Centers (FFSC) for professional assistance with resume writing.
Tip 2: Apply to multiple jobs at your new duty station BEFORE PCSing (moving). The keyword is before. As soon as you find out where your next duty station will be, start filling out applications and sending out your resume. This will reduce the amount of time unemployed at your new duty station. Be sure to check out USAJobs and apply to all the positions that interest you. ACS, AFRC, MFP, and FFSC should also be able to help you prepare for interviews by providing mock interviews.
Tip 3: Join networks and groups. There are several Facebook groups specifically for military spouses, such as Virtual HOH Military Spouse Professional Network. Ask questions and see if anybody can help you find a job at your next location. You can also use these networks to find a mentor. You don't have to be on this journey all by yourself. Join your unit's or squadron's spouse group and ask for resources. A lot of us military spouses love to support one another.
Tip 4: Consider working remotely or freelancing. Today’s technology is definitely playing in the professional military spouse’s favor. So many people across the country have decided to work from home and take their job wherever their hearts desire. How come military spouses can’t join in on that fun? They can; and there are a few businesses willing to help you get started. Check out The Paradigm Switch, Freedom Makers, and Instant Teams. These programs are specifically for people associated within the military community. Up Works and Fiverr are other options to start freelancing, but those online platforms are open to everyone outside the military communities, as well.
Tip 5: Be Skillful. Whether you’re going to apply for employment at your new duty station, work remotely, or freelance, skill building is a must. Get all the training and certifications you can. Make yourself competitive and learn how to market yourself. Attend workshops, network amongst military spouses, and get educated. Trust me, once you start to apply yourself, you will realize there is more support out there for military spouses than you expected. And they are all doing their best to support you. Grow with Google recently created a great resource for military vets and family members to enhance their skills and jump start a business or career.
As a military spouse who has also endured the struggles of employment, I hope these tips have helped you out as much as they have benefited me. Please leave a comment with questions, more tips, or your thoughts to join in on the conversation surrounding military spouse employment.