Milspouse Job Search 101: Tips to Find Your Next Position
by Rachel Carpenter - October 18th, 2021
I have PCS’d with my active-duty husband. A LOT. I’ve lived stateside and overseas. I’ve also held multiple jobs and positions at several of these duty stations. If you feel like every job search is just as grueling as the last one, you are not wrong. They never grow easier.
Now is a great time to look for a job or career. In July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor stated that job openings reached an all-time high of 10.9 million openings. And with more and more organizations embracing the advantages of remote work, there are even more opportunities to be grabbed for all ages, genders, skillsets, and family dynamics.
But how do you find the job or career you are looking for?
While there is no magic wand, one-size-fits-all method, I have picked up a few tips and tools to help you find your next position, wherever the military sends you.
UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
LinkedIn is not another social media platform to scroll aimlessly through; it is an online, vast professional network. You can browse for jobs, find internships, network with others in your career field, and even access learning modules to continue your education.
Before you start applying for jobs, update your LinkedIn profile with your most current job, skills, qualifications, certifications, and awards. Add any volunteer work you fulfilled, and ask those who have worked with you in the past to write recommendations for your profile. Finally, use a professional photo. You are not trying to impress a future employer or opportunity with pictures of your kids (no matter how cute they are); they want to see YOU.
If you are not on LinkedIn yet, what are you waiting for? This is a free resource and networking tool for you! You even qualify for a year of LinkedIn Premium, courtesy of SECO. Click here to learn more about this benefit for military spouses.
CLEAN UP YOUR RESUME
Resumes are not a “set it and forget it” kind of document. It must be carefully written for each job you are applying for, paying attention to keywords and highlighting skills to make sure your resume is seen in a sea of others.
Feeling confused or discouraged? You are not alone. Many organizations employ an ATS system, which stands for Applicant Tracking System. These systems scan resumes for keywords and rank each resume. According to NovoResume, 75% of job seekers fail to pass the ATS.
How do you pass it? You should look for relevant keywords on the job application and tailor your resume so that your skills, qualifications, and experience match this. It does not mean you lie on your resume. If you are qualified for the open position, you are ensuring that your resume matches best with the position to get past the ATS.
If you are still confused about resumes (and honestly, most of us are), you can seek professional help. There are plenty of companies that help job seekers write resumes and cover letters – Let’s Eat, Grandma, Monster, The Muse, and even LinkedIn ProFinder are all good places to start. You can also find assistance on SECO at the link above or at your local installation Family Readiness Center.
TRY A TEMPORARY JOB
Temp jobs get a bad reputation. It seems like something only interns or college students might do. But they are great! It is a good way to try out different industries or areas of interest without a huge contractual commitment. And as a military spouse, it might be an option if you know you will not be living in a particular place for an extended period of time.
Every city has at least one temp agency that can identify your skills and match you to positions. Contracts can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a year. I worked with Robert Half Talent Solutions in Hawaii and was placed in an administrative position for a third-party shipping company. It was meant to be a six-month contract, and I had never worked in this industry. Yet I learned a lot, gained some career experience and skills, and I was asked to remain with the company I was placed in for even longer. So give a temporary position a shot!
LOOK INTO FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT
You’re stationed at a military installation – why not look to positions there? If you are stationed overseas, this might be your only option for employment. Many federal positions come with benefits like 401K plans, vacation and sick leave, and employment preference upon moving. There are full and part-time jobs, General Schedule (GS) or Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) positions, and commissary and Exchange jobs among others.
I’ve worked in both GS and NAF positions, and they have both positive and negative factors. It depends on what kind of job or career you are looking for and what works best for you and your family. Federal employment can be a very stable and rewarding career path.
You can search for federal jobs at USA Jobs. Make sure to carefully submit your information and any documentation needed for that job listing. For positions with other agencies like the commissary, you can consult their websites for job openings.
Finding a job as a milspouse is possible. You can do this! Take some time to weigh your options and prepare your resume and other documents. Seek out help if you need it, and get applying!