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Why Military Spouses Need a Personal Brand

Barbara West, program coordinator for the Family Member Employment Assistance Program offers Kishwar Speir, a Marine spouse, literature on interviewing after the “‘Acing the Interview”’ workshop at Quantico. Ameesha Felton/Marine Corps
Barbara West, program coordinator for the Family Member Employment Assistance Program offers Kishwar Speir, a Marine spouse, literature on interviewing after the “‘Acing the Interview”’ workshop at Quantico. Ameesha Felton/Marine Corps

When service members move, there's always a job lined up for them on the other end. As a military spouse, you have those same moves -- but not a guaranteed job. 

Once the orders come in, you need to start a brand-new job search in a new location, which leads to an inconsistent resume. 

Some military spouses opt to stay at home with their children, work from home, or pursue freelancing jobs during their spouse's career. 

Sometimes deployments require the military spouse to remain home to keep the family together, manage the finances, and run things back home, so steady employment for them may not always be possible.

Once your spouse retires or separates from the military and transitions to a civilian career, regardless of your employment situation during his service, you may decide it's time for a more permanent career move. 

Those who were working full time but required to change jobs frequently due to moves may be ready to settle into a long-term career. Those who were staying at home, working from home, or doing a variety of freelance jobs may be ready to enter the full-time work force. 

Regardless of your situation, leaving the military requires a transition for the entire family, not just the military member.

While military veterans have Transition Assistance Programs available to them through the military, many of the spouses I've worked with tell me they feel invisible during the transition process. While the focus and attention tends to be on the veteran and not those who served outside of uniform, you too are going through a big transition and need to be armed with the tools you'll need to make it a smooth process.

You may have not worn the uniform, but you bring many of those same qualities, skills, traits and values of your spouse. It's time to recognize all of these qualities that you can bring to the table of a prospective employer.

As a spouse, you have a personal brand -- a reputation built on your behavior, relationships and actions. The people you've met along the way have formed an impression of who you are, what you stand for and how you can provide them value.

Most likely, though all the moves, you have not paid attention to your personal brand. However, intentionally developing a strong personal brand will drive the expectation people have of the experience of working with you. Your personal brand powerfully differentiates you from the competition and helps you attract opportunities.

To build your personal brand, it's important to follow a process:

  1. Discover. Evaluate your current reputation. How are you known today? How do others feel about you and perceive your value? What feedback have you received that confirms or dispels the way you think you are known? Are you known today as a fun person to be around but not much more than that?
  2. Desire. Think about the reputation you would like to have. What work would you find meaningful and how do you want these employers to perceive you?
  3. Define your target audience. To what kind of employers must your reputation be relevant and compelling? Who are the people you seem to "gel" best with -- where you get each other's jokes and align with their integrity and passion?
  4. Design. Write down ideas of how you will move from where you are today to where you want to be. Focus on the audience who must find you relevant in order to get you closer to those opportunities. Assign goals and benchmarks in the strategy and consider all marketing channels.
  5. Deploy consistent self-marketing across social media, your resume, and interview and networking skills. Your goal is not to be perfect but to be consistent. When employers see your online profile, then meet you in person, be sure they meet the same person. Measure your actions and the results you are seeing, then continue to do what's working! As you deploy your marketing and build your reputation the way you desire, enlist resources, champions and supporters to help you. Where you lack skills or talents, surround yourself with people who can help you and complement your offer.

Companies are looking for employees who are resilient, adaptable, have high integrity and strong work ethics. They are looking for you! Regardless of your depth of job experience, training and schooling, if you focus on your skills, talents and qualifications, you can position yourself to the right employers who are looking for you.

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Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO  volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at and on Amazon.

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