Milspouse unemployment is a huge problem. According to the Defense Department, active-duty spouse unemployment was 24% in 2019, more than six times higher than the national unemployment rate.
There are many reasons for this. Active-duty families often have children to take care of in the home, and rising child care costs can be restrictive for young troops. Military families also move around a lot and, since a third of all employed spouses work in health care, education and skilled trades, those moves can require new qualifications and new certifications in each state.
In short, there are a lot more variables to being a working military spouse than there are in many traditional American families.
From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2020, the Army's Soldier for Life Program will host the inaugural Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo, a four-hour online jobs expo that will provide any of America's 600,000 unemployed military spouses with career opportunities and a forum for networking with like-minded people in their fields.
"Our spouses are talented, dependable and dedicated workers and can bring so much to the workforce," says Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, director of communications for the Soldier for Life Program. "Even if you're not in the market for a job at the moment, it's still a great practice round to check out."
Related: How to Network at a Job Fair
The program is an Army effort to gather resources and agencies to support soldiers, veterans, retirees and families with every aspect of adapting and thriving in their post-military lives. The Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo is an effort to provide employment resources to spouses in the military-veteran community.
Well-known companies will be part of the expo, including Allstate Insurance and Leidos, as well as federal agencies such as the Secret Service, Postal Service and Social Security Administration. Many will be coming to the expo with available positions ready to be filled nationwide, so attendees should register in advance.
Right now, the DoD operates Military OneSource, a 24/7 online portal to news, information and resources for military members and their families. The DoD-funded site includes everything from tax prep to skills training, and includes the Military Spouse Employment Partnership portal, an online jobs site for military spouses.
"The Chief of Staff of the Army wants to focus on people this year," Nunn said. "Military spouses are important to the Army, and … Soldier For Life will be focused [on them] on this year. A happy soldier has happy family members, so we need to take care of them."
Preparing for a virtual job fair is much like preparing to attend a regular job fair. Find an objective, learn about the employers, choose the right ones, and try to stand out. Be sure to prep all the necessary job fair equipment; preparing a resume, an elevator pitch, and answers to how you would fit in an organization will help in navigating even a virtual experience.
If you want to network, you can do that at the Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo. Be sure to prepare for that too.
The expo is completely free for all military spouses, no matter whether their spouse is active, Guard, Reserve, separated or retired. For more information, to register or join the job fair, visit the Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo website.
-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to Learn More About Military Life?
Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, Military.com has you covered. Subscribe to Military.com to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.