Dear Career --
I'm a National Guard spouse and, over the last couple of years, I relocated with my husband for training. I had a hard time re-establishing into a position, so I had a big gap in my resume.
We've now relocated for my husband's civilian job, but I'm still having trouble.
There are a lot of government jobs where I am, but I've heard I'm not eligible for any military spouse federal preference because he's not active duty. Is that true?
If so, is there anything else I can do to make myself stand out? I've always had a steady job history and made a decent salary, but I'm becoming discouraged at this point.
-- Discouraged in D.C.
Dear Discouraged --
I wish I had better news, but from your description, I believe you're correct on your non-eligibility for Military Spouse Preference.
You can read the whole text here, but the DoD Authorization Act of 1986, Section 806, defines that Military Spouse Preference applies to: "eligible spouses of active duty military members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the U.S. Coast Guard and full-time National Guard, who are applying and referred for certain positions at DoD activities in the U.S., its territories and possessions, and in overseas areas … "
This would indicate that if your husband were full-time National Guard you might be eligible (you'd have to meet all the other requirements also listed), but not in your family's current status.
But I can still help you with the other part of your question about standing out.
Obviously, you need to make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are polished and that you're tailoring your resume every time you submit an application. For federal jobs in particular, you need to make sure you're properly writing your resume and hitting all the keywords. I highly recommend you seek out an expert at your nearest installation employment readiness office for the federal resume in particular.
In addition to your resume, address the gap in your cover letter, email or online application. Not every military spouse is eager to identify himself or herself as such because of the fear that they will be perceived as someone unable to hold the position long term. In your case, however, you can address that concern by mentioning that you're a National Guard family now settled for the long-term.
Just a short explanation may take away some of the guesswork as to why you were not employed during those times. I suggest something like, "The gaps you'll see in my employment are due to relocating while my spouse completed training for the National Guard. I used the time away from the paid workforce to further my education, and I believe the training I received will help me meet the job requirements by ..."
Use that last part of the explanation to make sure the focus isn't completely shifted to the service member, but remains on your valuable skill set. Be your own cheerleader and show how your skills will meet the job requirements and how eager you are to apply yourself to the position they have available. Again, be sure to customize this carefully with every application.
I hope this helps! Keep your chin up and if you're not already, get networking.
If you didn't know already, In Gear Career has a National Capital Region Chapter and we'd welcome you to join.
-- Have a spouse career question to submit? Email us at DearCareer@Military.com.