You know, I started Macho Spouse because I couldn't find a job in my career field during our last PCS. Most of us military spouses have probably gone through similar depressing job-searches. But after two years of unemployment, here I am, back in the job market and gainfully employed. This time, however, I have a whole new appreciation for what it takes to land that next job. The following is a short list of what I learned during my latest employment drought.
The first thing every military spouse needs when planning his or her career is patience. Patience, patience, patience. We must understand that our career trajectories won't be as quick, or logical as our civilian counterparts. And that's OK. As long as we understand where we want to be at the end of our working life, taking a step backwards now and then isn't a big deal as long as it moves us further forward down the line. Remember, our life situations can change rapidly, so we don't have to find that “perfect” job today since we probably won't be able to keep it anyway. Focus on building your resume so that when your spouse does decide to retire, you will have a great resume and lot's of experience to land that “perfect”job.
Stay positive! Believe me, I know it can be difficult to stay positive through this process, especially in a tough job market. But you must. Negative attitudes breed poor performance and outcomes. If you're not careful, a negative disposition will become apparent to potential employers. I sat on many hiring boards during my last job and it was always clear who had a positive, go-getter attitude and who didn't. Guess which candidates we hired 100% of the time. Try and find an “inner happiness/peace” during each job search and interview.
Network. Networking is probably the single most important tool a military spouse can use when trying to find, and maintain, employment. Get out of the house and go to those career fairs and military spouse functions. You may not find a job, but you will be laying the groundwork for possible future employment. If you can't get away from the house, try participating in a virtual career fair. The simple truth is we never really know when or where our next job offer will originate, so the more people who know us, the better. These events also allow us to meet fellow military spouses who are experiencing similar issues, something that I've found to be very healthy. It is an overwhelmingly positive feeling to discover that we aren't alone.
Be creative. Don't be afraid to “pop your career bubble” and accept a position or opportunity that may not align exactly with your education and experience. Part of being a valuable employee is having a well-rounded work history that pulls from different career fields. For example, I've been able to use my experience in the restaurant industry to help with my organizational and customer service skills. Skills that are very valuable in the video production industry. Taking chances like these can also lead to opportunities that you never would've known existed had you stayed in your career bubble.
My final tip is to look for jobs with larger corporations. Large companies usually have multiple openings and are more capable of transfering you from one location to another. I always start my job-searches with companies who openly promote hiring military spouses. Having an employer who understands the unique demands of our lifestyle never hurts. It's no secret that AT&T sent me a couple iPad Gift Baskets in return for writing this blog, so let's use them as an example. Go take a look at ATT.Jobs and see how they work with military spouses, http://att.jobs/doing-great-things/atts-women/military-spouses. I am very impressed with the amount of resources these guys are putting into hiring people like us, even going as far as breaking out specific telecommuting careers and jobs close to military installations. At the time of this blog, they had several dozen opportunities in San Antonio alone!
Speaking of the AT&T iPad Gift Basket, thanks to everyone who entered his or her suggestions on how best to show appreciation to a military spouse. I put everyone's name/email address in a hat and drew Jack Lauters. Congratulations Jack! I also drew a second name in case Jack doesn't want the iPad, and the runner-up is Jeremy Hilton. Jeremy, you receive nothing…unless Jack wants to surrender his right to the iPad Gift Basket. Thanks again guys, and thank you AT&T!