The Hurdles of Military Spouse Unemployment and How To Overcome Them

Among the more than 14 million Americans struggling to find work, the men and women married to military personnel face hurdles that other job seekers don’t.  According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.4 percent of military spouses were seeking jobs and couldn’t find one, compared to 5.3 percent of spouses in civilian families.  Military families move on average every 2.9 years which makes it difficult to advance along a single career path and gain valuable work experience. This is compounded by the fact that 14 states don’t provide unemployment insurance because they view such transfers as voluntary.  These moves can be very difficult, even for skilled professionals like nurses and teachers because each state has their own license and certification requirements that are not transferable.

So what can you do to overcome all the challenges that face a military spouses?  Here are just a few tips on ways you can support your military household and acquire gainful employment:

  • Get Your Resume In Order –  Update and review your resume.  If moving, do this before arriving in your new location which will allow you to hit the ground running and focus on making a smooth transition into your new home.
  • Utilize Your Resources – Attend a Spouses Club meeting where you can meet new people and network. Contact the Family Member Employment Assistance Program (FMEAP) or Spouse Employment Assistance Program (SEAP). Both programs maintain information on employment opportunities and can help get you placed in a new job. You can also attend an on base job fair where you can gain valuable information and test the job market.
  • Reach Out In The Community – Learn as much as you can about the area you live. Look into educational opportunities or job support networks available to military spouses. Talk with local schools and business about job openings. Sign up with a temp agency which can sometimes transition into full time employment.
  • Volunteer – If it is financially possible, give your time and skills to help others. This can often help you make connections in your area and provide a resume filler for gaps in employment.

Following some of these guidelines can help you to navigate the difficulties of being a military spouse. The main thing to remember is to be open minded and flexible in your job search because while having a partner in the service can have its burdens, it also has just as many benefits.

Read a related article in Civilian Job News: Military Spouse Series: Mission Transition – Weathering the storm together