Military Spouses: Stand Behind Your Experience
“One of the biggest misconceptions about military spouses is that they're job hoppers,” said Chryssy Johnson, USAA Military Talent Strategist.
She joined USAA in 2010 when her husband was stationed in the San Antonio area. As part of USAA's HR talent acquisition team, she supports the organization’s military spouse hiring initiatives and military veteran hiring strategies.
Johnson understand the obstacles military spouses face in the job search, as she once faced them herself. "You may have been told that you have too many breaks in employment or that skillsets are seemingly absent or mismatched,” she explained. "Learning how to sell your experience as a military spouse helps you avoid being passed up or viewed as a risk for investment for the company."
For military spouses looking to establish their career, Johnson’s advice is to "sell" your strengths and skills to employers, while emphasizing how you've grown from obstacles that come with military life. Watch the video here.
How to succeed in your job search
As a military spouse, there are a few actions you can take that will immediately boost your job search, according to Johnson.
- Network and Build Connections
- Find a Mentor
- Use Your Resources
Network and Build Connections
Networking contributes to more than 80% of employment, so it’s important to cultivate a broad professional network, and use it. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn can connect military spouses to a wide platform of fellow military spouses, and igniting those conversations can lead to successful professional growth and even employment. Leaning on the large community of veterans and military spouses can really jumpstart important conversations with potential employers in a less stressful setting.
“As a military spouse, my best advice to any military spouse to empower them on their job hunt, their career, or just making additional connections is to take advantage of every opportunity that's offered to you. Remember, it's not always who you know, but what they may know. Networking and making those connections are the best way to assist you and empower you in making your own job hunt and career successful,” said Johnson.
Find a Mentor
Mentors provide career advice and guidance and may even connect you with people or opportunities. Professional mentorship matches seasoned professionals (mentors) with those looking to grow in their professional career (mentees). There are a few ways this can occur:
- One-on-one mentoring programs: Mentors are matched with mentees, either through a program or on their own. Mentee-mentor pairs participate in a co-learning relationship that follows a structure and timeframe outlined by the organization.
- Group mentoring programs: A single mentor is matched with a cohort of mentees as part of a program that is structured to provide each mentee with individualized guidance from the same mentor.
- Reverse mentoring programs: In reverse mentoring, a junior team member exchanges skills, knowledge, and understanding with a senior colleague who wishes to to build up their capabilities in a field where the junior peer has more experience.
Mentorship programs for the military community
Veterati is the digital mentorship platform to support the military community as they pursue the careers of their dreams at every point in their career journey. Join thousands of Service Members, Veterans, and Military Spouses in setting up free 1-hr mentorship phone calls with successful professionals. We’re the only Veteran Mentorship Platform to let you choose your own mentors and as many as you would like.
Still Serving Veterans provides practical advice for navigating the often challenging road to finding meaningful post-military work and building a civilian life you’ll love. They’re here to help you build a better future wherever you live (or want to live). Every career counselor is a veteran who understands the unique needs of veterans and their families.
American Corporate Partners’s free Mentoring Program connects post-9/11 veterans, active duty spouses and eligible military spouses (Protégés) with corporate professionals (Mentors) for customized mentorships. ACP assists veterans and eligible spouses on their path towards fulfilling, long-term careers, whether the veteran is job searching or newly employed.
Use Your Resources
It’s important to leverage the resources that can help you not only find meaningful employment, but employers who will truly see you.
RecruitMilitary understands the challenges, skillsets, and commitment that military spouses are prepared to bring to an employer, and we have partnered with organizations who see the value you possess.
Search remote jobs and opportunities for the military community here.
Address Employment & Resume Gaps Up-Front
There’s simply no way around it. Between PCS moves, deployments, overseas tours, and raising a family, military spouses often put their own careers on the backburner in order to support their family. It is easy to accumulate gaps in your career or on your resume when living the military lifestyle.
In an interview, you may need to address these gaps on your resume. Even if a break wasn’t your most productive, think deeply. Maybe you learned an aspect of project management or developed some other skill. But the question remains, how can you address these gaps to an employer?
Whether you realize it or not, you likely gained a myriad of skills during this time. While these skills might have been developed in more nontraditional or nonlinear ways, they are still important skills you can leverage, especially non-profit work, volunteer work, vocational training, etc.
As a spouse, when you're looking at gaps on resumes, you may even consider a functional resume or a hybrid format where you can minimize the gaps. However, many employers do not prefer this style as they often use an Applicant Tracking System to scan incoming resumes. Learn more about that process here.
Want an interactive approach to polish your resume? Attend one of our upcoming webinars!
Find Employers who Hire from the Military Community
While almost every organization appreciates military veterans and their spouses, the companies that have partnered with RecruitMilitary are committed to looking beyond the resumes. “RecruitMilitary has always been a valuable partner—from the publication that offer valuable insights to job fairs to the comprehensive resources to the military community. The organizations they partner with build vital relationships and helps to find the best fit for their roles,” Johnson says.
Understand and vocalize your value
It’s easy for military spouses to downplay their experiences, but we encourage you to emphasize them. Approaching employers with confidence in your prior experiences, no matter how big or small, can make a huge difference.
“Not only are military spouses committed and dedicated, but they also hold values and desirable core attributes that prove a business case,” said Johnson.
Be confident in your value and the skills and experience you bring to an organization.
How does USAA support their military spouse community?
At USAA, we have a robust internal military spouse community. Some have their spouse deployed currently. Some have recently made a PCS (permanent change of station) move, some are about to PCS, but all of them have amazing stories that support their grit and determination.