Military Spouses: Stand Behind Your Experience
Active duty military spouses face a 24% unemployment rate, and more than 31% are underemployed, according to a recent article in Forbes. Constant moves in support of their spouse’s military career can mean employment gaps and the appearance of job hopping, even in today’s candidate-driven market.
But there’s a positive way to spin that experience, according to Jen Hadac, a Navy veteran and a military spouse. Hadac is part of the Team Transition initiative at Bradley-Morris/RecruitMilitary, which is focused on providing comprehensive career support to the entire military family unit as they look to build or grow their professional careers.
Address the Elephant in the Room
“I experienced having five or six jobs in just a few years,” related Hadac. “It wasn’t due to wanting to jump ship, it was because of military moves. Looking back, I wish I’d thought more about how I should present myself.”
Hadac recommends addressing the elephant in the room with something like, “I’m in the transition process. I’ve moved here recently and have had multiple positions due to my spouse’s military status. However, with each of these positions, I’ve really gained some valuable skills. And what I bring to the table for your organization is this: (list your skills).”
Holding multiple jobs means spouses may be more flexible, adjustable, and ready to hit the ground running. Learning how to do a new job quickly is a value add in today’s workforce, and so is experience integrating with a new team and learning new business processes. That may put you way ahead of someone who has never had to learn new skills.
Hadac advises turning the tables by showing how skills gained in each role bring value to an employer. “When you’re in an interview your attitude should be, ‘This isn’t me lacking commitment to my job/employer, this is me being committed to supporting my spouse’s service to our country and gaining valuable professional skills along the way. This is what I’ve learned/achieved in each role and I’m here now and I’m passionate about working for your organization,’” she said.
Summarize Your Value
The top third of a resume is prime real estate and where employers spend the most time, so you must align your experience there. Capture your most relevant skills in a career summary at the top of the page, followed by keywords and relevant certifications. “If you were a customer service representative in retail, those skills could translate to lifecycle portfolio management, outreach, or sourcing,” said Heidi Miller, Director of Military and Spouse Career Resources for Bradley-Morris/RecruitMilitary.
Cultivate Positive References
Having a glowing letter of recommendation to take with you or a supervisor who can provide a stellar reference over the phone can make all the difference. If you don’t, you may be leaving behind one of the most valuable tools in your tool belt.
“If you burn that bridge and have a mindset of, ‘Whatever, I’m moving to California and I’m never going to see those guys again,’ you’ve missed an opportunity,” said Tim Mossholder, Vice President of Experience for Bradley-Morris/RecruitMilitary.
“You must connect with your supervisors, because let’s face it: you’re going to need them as references,” warned Hadac. “Make sure you can walk into your next position with a former employer who says, ‘Yeah, we wish he or she had been here longer.’”
Hadac and Miller travel to RecruitMilitary Veteran Job Fairs around the country staged at exciting venues and military bases. Join them and further your own transition at an event near you, or use our resources to support your career search.
By Chris Newsome