Can military spouses help themselves tap into the job market? In Gear Career, a new nonprofit for military spouses pursuing professional careers, is already producing tangible results where other organizations falter.
Since U.S. job statistics indicate that up to 80 percent of positions are filled without being formally advertised, the military spouses at In Gear Career decided to adopt a spouse networking strategy.
Using a structure of local chapters in locations including West Point, N.Y.; Hampton Roads, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and Honolulu, Hawaii, past and present military spouses help each other find these unseen jobs.
The West Point local chapter is a great example of how the model works. In the past year alone, In Gear Career has connected 18 spouses with professional jobs.
Eighteen jobs may not seem like a lot. Considering that the West Point community has fewer than 1,000 spouses in the area, and that only 15 percent of military spouses say that they are currently seeking work, those 18 jobs are substantial.
They are even more substantial when West Point’s challenging employment landscape is taken into account. The rural area is underdeveloped and consists of small sprawling towns with no major corporations within a 40-minute commute.
At first glance, the small businesses in the West Point area may seem unlikely to produce job opportunities. Yet it is these same small businesses that are providing such great opportunities for military spouses to advance their careers by moving into leadership and consulting roles they never previously considered.
Local companies are more likely to have unlisted job openings and are always seeking to fill vacancies quickly. This is why In Gear Career’s policy of external referrals is so important. Military spouses have been able to connect through In Gear Career to share these unlisted opportunities with each other, and to provide strategic introductions to members of their professional networks.
For example, one military spouse referred a spouse she met through In Gear Career to a colleague’s company. She arranged an opportunity for the woman to meet and speak with the hiring manager just days before the company advertised an upcoming vacancy. After four months of unsuccessful job applications through company and employment websites, the military spouse was offered a position with this employer, a defense contracting company, and commenced work within two weeks.
Jessica Exline, project manager at the Praevius Group, has been very impressed by the quality of employees they have received through the local chapter. “In Gear Career has helped us fill several critical contract positions with great candidates from the West Point local chapter. We really appreciate their model and being able to receive direct referrals and introductions to the professionally qualified spouses living in our area.”
Kurt Weaver, a computer animation technician and relatively new military spouse, spoke highly of the assistance that In Gear Career has provided as he relocated to West Point. “This is an excellent program and really fills a gap in the transition needs of a family in constant rotation. My skills are very specific and unique and it isn't always easy to find a place to fit in, especially when we move some place rural. I have already found some helpful resources and made some useful connections through IGC.”
In Gear Career’s power is extending beyond the Local Chapters with career-minded spouses also able to seek advice, obtain resources and network with each other regardless of location, by using the organization’s website. In Gear Career’s 24 virtual Communities of Practice, which connect spouses working in the same occupational fields, have also resulted in referrals and interviews, in addition to the sharing of advice and corporate knowledge.
With a new website launch scheduled later this month and their membership increasing by 200 percent since June, this up and coming nonprofit is providing valuable support and solutions that really work for the Military Spouses who wish to build their careers alongside their servicemember partners. In Gear Career provides all of its services free of charge, so to expand your professional network, tap into the hidden job market, and develop professionally, don’t wait -- join the In Gear Career community today.
Haley Uthlaut graduated from United States Military Academy at West Point, where she studied Business Management and Mechanical Engineering and graduated with a Bachelor's (BS) degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army. She is a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. After earning her MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, she co-founded In Gear Career.
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