Whether it’s new to you or you’ve been doing it for 20 years, finding a career when you’re a military spouse can be truly challenging. You feel like you’ve finally settled in and found something you enjoy (or at least something that pays), and then your service member gets orders and off you go again. It’s a tough part of the lifestyle, but it’s what you signed up for when you said “I do”. While no one can offer you the end-all-be-all solution for this conundrum, I’ve put together some of my best advice to help you try to minimize the sting of giving up one job and looking for another.
Always Have the Mentality You’re PCSing Soon
This might be the last thing you want to do, especially right after you’ve completed one, but it will keep you competitive (not to mention less stressed). While your employer may not want to think about losing you as soon as they hire you, they know you’re a military spouse. So, bring it up. You never know if they may be able to work something out where you can work from a home satellite office, or if they have connections around the country that could help you in the future. The bottom line is you know moving is in your future somewhere, and so does your employer. Instead of running from it, embrace it and plan for it as well in advance as you can. There’s a lot to be said for taking the bull by the horns.
Don’t Get Lazy With Your Resume
Most people typically only update their resumes when they need to (ie looking for a job/about to leave a job). However, if you keep yours constantly up-to-date, you’ll be ready to strike the new job market as soon as you get word. Plus, your true skillset is likely to reflect more accurately when you update it in real time.
Take Advantage of Employment Resources
You may not have thought of using an employment or temp agency before, but it’s a great resource. In fact, many of these organizations have special programs exclusively meant for the military spouse. This should by no means be something to rest your laurels on, but these agencies are definitely people you want to be in contact with. While many of the temp jobs can turn into full-time positions, having a temporary paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.
Keep Your Eye Out for Career Fairs
Career fairs can be a little intimidating, but they’re a unique opportunity. Especially in today’s world in which employers typically request applications and resumes to be submitted online, it can be tough to get a face-to-face meeting. A career fair offers you the chance to see what’s out there and turn the charm on before they have a chance to say no. Nothing makes a competitive resume stand out more than a personal introduction.
Consider National Companies
National companies can be an ideal place for military spouses because they can offer some sense of security. While transfers are never guaranteed, if there is a branch/office/store near wherever you’re heading, there is a good chance you can have a job waiting for you when you get there. The moral here is to make sure you’re such a great employee that the company doesn’t want to lose you.
Network Like Crazy
Even if your job doesn’t require it, network all the time. Especially near a base, you never know when you might meet someone that will be a great connection for you in the future. Maybe they used to live where your new base is, or maybe they’ll PCS there long before you and be able to give you a head start on career prospects. The more people you know, the more you can call on to help you down the road when the military lifestyle calls.