One of the hardest things about being a military spouse is the realization that there are three entities in your marriage. You have your spouse, of course, but you have another ultra-needy and demanding player in the relationship, as well. Whether it be the Army, the Marines, the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or beyond, the tough reality for military spouses is that we often come second.
Most military families know and understand that this means that their service member is, for all intents and purposes, married to the military. It defines their schedule, their hometown, their lifestyle, and so much more. Many people forget, however, that it also affects military spouses. We, too, are owned by the military.
When my husband and I first started dating, there was such a blissful allure to the prospect of moving around, seeing new places, and discovering new things. That remains the same five years later. I love that part. However, there’s an undertone of difficulty that many people overlook.
As many proud, hardworking military spouses can attest, too often our careers are put on hold. We’re overqualified or underpaid. We simply can’t find jobs.
In an already volatile job market, it’s a terrifying concept to be years into a career and suddenly forced into a holding pattern. We are lucky that more companies are learning to open their doors to the possibility of remote employees. We are even luckier when employers are willing to take a risk on the uncertain life and fluctuating career of a military spouse.
But, you need to remember this: luck should never have anything to do with it.
Risk goes hand in hand with reward. Every new hire is a risk. Every new duty station offers a risk of a deployment, or a hardship tour, or a new familial challenge, all of which we’ve come to accept over time. What shouldn’t be a risk is the fact that we are employable. We are a desirable pool of candidates from all walks of life whose experience should be viewed as an asset, rather than a liability.
Whether you are employed but seeking new employment, unemployed and desperate in your search, new to the area, or simply so defeated by the search that you don’t want to continue, there are options. There are a lot of companies and organizations today committed to banding together for the advancement and betterment of military spouse careers. Having done ample research, here are a few things to aid you on your search.
Hire Heroes USA – This nonprofit exists solely to empower veterans and their families secure proper employment in the civilian world. They’re not your traditional job board. They won’t find you a job. They will, however, help you get the one you want, and they do have partnered companies.
FlexJobs – This is a well-known job board for those seeking work-at-home options. There is a minimal sign-up fee that gives you access to hundreds of job calls. Some are freelance options, while others are contract roles. Sift through them, and you’re likely to find something that works.
Serving Talent – This is a relatively newer career matching organization designed to support military and foreign service spouses. You apply much like you would to a normal company. Submit a cover letter with their requested information, as well as your resume, and they’ll work with you to find great matches.
The biggest thing to which I think many military spouses can attest is that we don’t want to be boxed in anymore. There are so many sites out there that give us a list of 5-10 careers that will move wherever we go. That’s great…for those individuals in those career paths. We don’t represent those 5-10 careers though. We represent so much more. We’re doctors, nurses, educators, writers, designers, business professionals, engineers, and beyond. We are exemplary.
We’re also an entire group of untapped and relatively unexplored career potential.
Whether you’re days, weeks, months, or years into your job search, don’t lose faith. Don’t lose your drive to succeed. That’s how you became the asset you are. Be bold. Take risks. Contact company after company. Put those proverbial ducks in a row and send out every cover letter you can. Remember that every single rejection is one step closer to that “yes” that you want.
Whatever you do, don’t devalue yourself. You are worth the effort. You are worth the risk. You will reap the reward in your search.