Tips for Military Spouses Re-entering the Job Market

Choices Hair Salon Daegu Working Military spouses

Tips for re-entering the job market is a post created out of necessity. I haven’t worked full-time outside the home in a few years. But I want a job. I have things I’d like to do that require funds. And the whole “military dependent” blanket I’ve been wearing up to my eyeballs is wearing a little thin these days. I want—scratch that, I need a job.

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But it’s not for lack of trying that I don’t have one. I have applied to quite a few of them until recently. I have been a victim of my own short-sidedness as a military spouse. So let me explain.

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Re-entering the Job Market

Finding the Way Back to Your Own Goals

A few years ago, I went back to school to complete the degree I had started before I got married. But because it proved a difficult task to finish the computer science degree I had started. I switched to political science. I attained a BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado in hopes of going on to law school.

Well, that didn’t happen for numerous reasons. First, m husband was deployed. Then I didn’t get into a law school close enough to home. Blah, blah, blah– I won’t bore you.

Anyways. You can imagine all the opportunities that came calling with a BS. I mean PS degree in political science. Add the multiple overseas moves, multiple job experiences, temp jobs, volunteering, gaps in employment, etc. And you have an award-winning resume. I’m just not sure of what award I’d get offered.

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Now What?

Well, here I am now. I have a lot of free time because the kids are grown. You’ll be happy to know they both have great jobs. And I think I need to get out of the house for several reasons.

My advice to all new and young spouses is simple. Get a degree/ experience/ skillset is something that travels well. Nursing or teaching is great. Something that is location independent like computer programming or web design. will also work.

Why I Need a Job Because

  1. I don’t seem to be communicating effectively—use it or lose it, right?
  2. I would like to shed the dependent moniker, it felt good having my own money
  3. We always budget for one salary and we are having a blast, imagine what we can do with two.
  4. We, my husband and I, have long-term goals we cannot attain a single income
  5. I’m bored and feel pretty useless… I need a purpose and…
  6. And I need to get off the sofa, one of the cushions is showing signs of excessive overuse.
  7. I think this next move back to the United States is the perfect time to enact a plan of action.
  8. We both plan to retire in the next 3-5 years, the extra money will go a long way to that.
  9. The job market seems to be getting better for military spouses. Many employers are seeing that having military spouses on the payroll, even if it’s temporary, is another diversity factor for their businesses.
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The Plan of Attack

Resume

I have to take a look at my resume. Keeping it up to date, except for the year of volunteering I’ve accumulated. It needs a little tweaking and of course, I need to run it by a professional. As well as a couple of my friends (in the job market) to make sure it lines up with the current job market terminologies. I’m working on an updated resume that is paramount for re-entering the job market.

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Wardrobe

I’m in South Korea, the capital of custom-tailoring. And I’ve had two suits made so far. I am short, but hippie and my waist aren’t proportional to my hips. Off the rack, clothing either fits me in the hips or the waist but rarely both. I did a little research on what constitutes key workpieces and I am looking at having 3-4 more items made before we leave. However, I think having a few outfits that fit well will do a lot for my self-esteem and confidence.

Networking

Networking is essential for re-entering the job market. The loved the last company I worked for and when I left my boss said I could come back anytime. Too bad, that’s not an option, but it might be if he or the company has contacts in Killeen. I am putting the word out with friends, prior co-workers, and my affiliations with my sorority and volunteer organizations. The more people who know I am looking for a job… the better, right?

LinkedIn is definitely a social media outlet any prospective applicant should utilize, keep updated, stay connected to past employers and co-workers, and prospective employers and industries.

Do you know a military spouse at your job or one that has been trying to get gainfully employed?

Looking for a federal job, setup an account here at USAJOBS

Spousal Preference

USAJOBS is the portal into a job with the federal government. It’s a preferred employer for military spouses because you can stay with the government even if you move. They offer a few perks called the spousal preference. Spousal preference should give military spouses a leg up against other non-spouses/ veteran applicants.

Re-entering the Global Marketplace

Now that I know we are moving to Killeen Texas, I can look at specific jobs in the area. I can also update my resume. I’m focused on federal jobs based in Austin available on USAJOBS.COM. But it’s a little too early to apply for anything. I’ll do a little “tailoring” to my resume, maybe even send out a few feelers.

Are you a military spouse, what has your experience with maintaining a career or staying employed been like?

Focus

Although my preference is to get into the federal job market, I’m patient. My objective is a job in three specific industries. I am narrowing my focus to travel, publishing, and IT. Re-entering the job market in an area I am familiar with an idea. And feel I can leverage my experience, education, and passion to nail down a job in one of those industries. I am also looking for a job that might not be so location-specific. This might allow me the opportunity to keep it when we get our next assignment.

Head Games

I need to stop thinking so hard and just do it. Give my mind and body a break. Stop re-reading each “we regret” letter and work on a few more job applications. Visualize the words “pleased to offer you” instead. Remember, I have a lot to offer my future employer and it’s high time to end dependence. Take a look at Applying for a Federal JobMilitary Influencer Conference.

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Comments

  1. David Zarett

    Thank you for sharing this tips and advice. Many people need this not only for money but for growth of their lives.

  2. John Marc Ramirez

    Great tips! I have learned a lot from your article. You write with so much passion, and I believe that a lot of people will benefit from this. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. JAM

    Loving the list of options. USA Jobs have also created events to assist with updating resumes, virtual classes, etc. Once moving to Bragg I had to learn about the local job search engines; Indeed and the city of Fayetteville. Thank you for sharing this information is very useful.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I love attending live events. It s chance for face to face interactions and improving communication skills while getting information in real time.

  4. Ashlea

    These are great tips on how to reenter the job market. I know I have been recently thinking about reentering myself but will be starting to go back to school this summer.

  5. Leo T. Ly

    This is definitely a great guide for people who have been out of the job market for a while. I somehow feel lucky that I have been employed for the last decade and have a stable job. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find one once you move home.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You have to have a work visa which I understand isn’t so easy to come by for military spouses. I was hoping to work for the DOD but that didn’t happen either.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I am glad you found it helpful. If you are looking for employment and find it, please come back and share with us.

  6. Cheryl F

    I also need a job. It’s not really a must but I think while my son is growing up I need to earn too. The plan is to actually go back to college. I already have a BS degree in IT but my partner wants me to try Nursing. Can’t actually wait to start it this June hopefully. Good luck to us.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Exactly. I can do without, but… I wish us both luck. Do you want to go into nursing too, Cheryl?

  7. DogVills

    I’m glad that you shared this great ideas, also good for you that you want to keep yourself busy. This is really helpful as well.

  8. Cynthia Nicoletti

    I have not been in the job market for almost 7 years now due to a serious car accident. It can be hard and yes you definitely loose skills that you once had. I do believe once you are back you gain everything you have lost. Good Luck

  9. Elizabeth O

    Dear sister on a job hunt, I can relate and one day will write about my difficult journey. That said, you will find something that fits your skills so explore all options and stay flexible. Best wishes!

  10. Cameron

    It seems tough but I’m sure you’ll make it work! I just got my masters a few months ago and I still don’t have a job in my field – though it isn’t from the lack of trying. I lost count of how many resumes and applications I filled out and submitted. Instead of moping about it, I switched gears. Now I can’t wait to see where this new path takes me! Good luck to you!

    | diaryofasouthernmillennial.com

  11. Nay

    Love reading this. It was really interesting. I can identify as last year, I spent a while looking for a job as I went full time rather than being part time and that was hard enough! Good luck with your search.

  12. blair villanueva

    While am a full time blogger, i still have my day offuce job and I think I have no plans yet to give up that one because it pays well. And I still can juggle these jobs. Unless I got mybown child, then I will definitely give up the day job.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I agree, I can do both. I bring in a small amount of money with my blog, so I don’t come out of pocket. I will continue to build it up an hopefully be able to make more money when we both retire in 3-5 years. Is you job related to your blog content?

  13. Krysten

    I haven’t been in the job market for almost 2 years now and I can’t imagine going back in, I feel like that’s going to be a lot of stress that I can’t foresee. I do want to get a job once my son is in Daycare. Luckily I have a career that travels well.
    Congrats on wanting to go back into the job market and you have a seriously solid plan!

  14. Lauren Michelle

    I want to say that out of all of these, networking has to be the most important. There is no way to grow, succeed, and learn without creating relationships with people around you! Good luck and keep us updated!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I agree networking is very important when looking for a job. I need to take better advantage of this this time.

  15. Denice

    Good luck with your search! I tried working at home for a time, after I gave birth to my first. At first it was working fine for me, but then I realized that I crave for human interaction.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thats where I am too. Although I would love to find a job that could possibly travel with me when my husband gets reassigned.

  16. Richard Bivins

    Good luck with the job search. Have you considered teaching ESL or tutoring to ESL students? I would imagine living in South Korea that there would be a big demand for that.

  17. Fatima Torres

    Networking is so important. People forget the value of getting to know people in the industry and helping them out. They’ll remember you and how passionate you were.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thats why its never a good idea to burn bridges on your way out the door no matter how poorly you think you were treated.

  18. Madelyn

    Wishing you the best of luck. I’m a stay at home mom currently. But, I feel like I can’t just be a stay at home mom. I like to be kept extra-EXTRA busy lol. I’m going to school and trying to work from home with a super active toddler. But, I totally love making my own money, and couch potato life wasn’t working for me. I can’t wait for my income to afford us more. 🙂

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Exactly. I think its time to step out and do my thing. My kids are grown, my husbands gonna do his thing, so Imma do the damn thing. Lol

  19. Robin

    Good luck on all your efforts, you seem so focused and organized, great skills for any employer to have on board! You’ll be great!

  20. Sara Normand

    My sister can relate; her husband just came back and is now looking to enter the real world after his 5 years of service. She has been doing bits and pieces of side jobs, so I think you just need to find things that interest you that don’t necessarily have to relate to what you studied!

  21. Bernadette Callahan

    Good luck on your search! Hopefully you will find something that you really like.
    It is hard to get back into the job market. There are so many jobs available and it can seem overwhelming.
    We are a 1 salary household and I know we could definitely do more on 2 but my younger 3 are homeschooled so that takes up alot of my time.

  22. Chirp Cheer N Chai

    That is a great article you have shared with. Appreciate your honesty and the wonderful presentation of career search. It shows the positivity in you. Good luck for your upcoming endeavors!

  23. Nina

    What a honest and powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with us. I’m sure so many can relate to you!

  24. Carol Cassara

    It’s nice to get back into the corporate world and just keep yourself busy with work especially if you have so much free time. These are really helpful, it’s important to have a “plan of attack” so to speak.

  25. Elizabeth O.

    It’s tough to get back into the job market when you’ve been absent for too long but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think these are awesome tips! You definitely covered everything.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Enjoy your time at home, they grow up so fast and you are very lucky to be a able to stay home.

  26. Sauumye

    Having a well written resume is the most improtant thing. It makes a huge impact. Also LinkedIn is amazing. I got my current as well as previous job by networking on LinkedIn.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I agree, it makes a huge difference especially when they use keyword identification software to pre-screen applicants like they do at USAJOBS as well as resume building software. And I am learning that LinkedIn is a very useful tool, I need to utilize better.

  27. Chloe

    Wahoo Good Luck and congratulations for putting yourself out there again. My little one will be a little older soon and I think I will be in a similar situation!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you so much, the job market has not always been kind to the military spouse due to our transient existence, but it seems to be getting better.

  28. Agentizerozerosetter

    Having a job is important,I agree with you!
    Not only for money,also for personal growt and happiness!

  29. David

    You seem to have a pretty good plan and are prepared for what you want. I’ve been on the USA jobs boards sometimes. It can be a bit daunting there sometimes. I wish you the best in your search.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Yes they can. I interviewed with 3 boards last year… not fun… and I thought I did well… but not well enough. Lol.

    1. Maggie Price

      More than timing, I would recommend being conscientious about one’s postings and on-line presence. As an employer with competitive job openings, we vet candidates first by Google searches. Commenting on celebrity fashions or the newest make-up line may not leave the best impression. Seems like you are on the right track!

      1. duffelbagspouse

        Thank you so much, this is helpful information to always remember that you should always keep your emotions, language and opinions in check when online.

  30. JM Castro

    I admire your decision to look for employment to keep yourself busy. I know a lot of people who hate down time and they are usually the successful ones. As for me though, being just 25, I think I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. I am aiming to one day quit a full time job and focus on making a living as a professional blogger and entrepreneur.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thats my plan as well, to blog and open a small winery and brewery, that takes a sizable investment. I’ll just do both for the next few years.

      1. Author Brandi Kennedy

        Of course! I have grown to love reading your blog and following along on your adventures. The way I see it, this is just the next one for you – and I know you’ll do it with just as much class and optimism as all the others.

        1. duffelbagspouse

          Thank you. The feeling is mutual. Its one of my favorite things about blogging… getting to ‘know’ fellow bloggers, sharing and help each other reach our goals.

  31. Amber Myers

    Good luck with finding a job! Since we have kids, I always stayed at home so we didn’t waste money on childcare. We budget, so we could handle one income. My kids are older and in school now so I can focus more on myself. I’m writer, and so far I’ve been earning money doing that, so it helps! And I can still be around if my husband or the kids need something at work or at school.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you, I agree it was important to be around for my kids too. We were living a blessed life on a loose budget and one salary with up to three kids in the house. I’d like to see what kinda fun we can get into with two salaries and no kids. Lol

  32. Jessi Joachim

    I recently finished my Masters degree, and I have been having a hard time finding work. The problem is in my area, I am considered “over educated” and no one wants to hire me

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Yes it is difficult. Unfortunately, I can’t work here in South Korea unless its for the DOD. I don’t have a work visa, I’ll have to wait until I return home to the USA.

  33. Rachelle

    Love your article. I have been fortunate to find work pretty quick at each duty station. Although my stomach is in knots each time praying for a lateral move or at least on that will keep me in the game just a few more years until it is my turn.

    If you are not on LinkedIn I highly recommend it. It is an excellent networking tool. I have had many employers reach out to me from looking at my profile and it isn’t even complete. Coming here I made a little change in my career field and I have connected with some great people who have mentored me and are guiding me through the right credentialing so that my skills transfer and are marketable in the civilian world.

    I get lots of tips on continuing ed (some free) and just resources to educate me. Financial is still my passion so through groups I am part of I am able to stay current on what is going on in the field.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You are such a talented person no matter where you are working, you’ll be an asset. Thank you for reminding me about LinkedIn. I am using it but maybe not to its full potential.

  34. Chantal

    Thank you for sharing this, I love your blog for how honest and positive you present information. I have been looking for a job in marketing for two years and haven’t found one yet. I have had a couple of temp jobs and worked as a receptionist at real estate firm until we PCSed to Fort Bragg. I half heartedly looked but I had stopped after a few weeks, but I think you are right. I need a job and want to working my industry, I am still paying of student loans. Thanks for all the tips, I think they will be helpful in the job reboot. I am going to make an appointment at ACS and have them look at my resume.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hey Chantal. Your time is coming. Make sure you take a look at the 2017 Friendly Employers List for Military Spouses and their job listings. Come back and tell us what resources you receive at ACS.

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