Military Spouses: Making the Best of a Short Assignment

Moving boxes. Photo by Amy Bushatz/
Moving boxes. Photo by Amy Bushatz/

You just got the news that, yet again, you are being PCS'd to another location.

While your spouse dives into the logistics of his or her new job, your focus goes to relocating your family and preparing the household to move.

In addition, if you are employed outside the home, you are undoubtedly concerned about finding new employment, initiating a new professional network, and making new friends.

Career challenges of short-term assignments include:

  • Temporary assignments make it difficult in some fields to get a job only for that short period of time. 
  • How can your resume positively reflect short-term jobs?
  • It feels discouraging to make friends in the time you're stationed in this location, knowing you'll be saying goodbye soon. 
  • Moving the family, parting with teachers, friends and your professional network are all stressful.

Having connections helps

  • Having a support network is critical to accessing information, resources and career opportunities in your new area.
  • Everyone you meet will have different connections and have lived in different places so they can help you with networking. They will have connections at other bases, connections for jobs, and connections at schools.  
  • Becoming a support system for others in times of need helps you further your desire to serve. 

Work on your skills

  • Use the short time to start classes online to further your education, perhaps taking classes you've always wanted to take but didn't have the time.
  • Volunteer time to something you are passionate about. Volunteering can help build your skills and experience in a career area you might like to pursue.
  • Take inventory of your career goals for after this move: What could you work on today, that will give you more options and opportunities in the move after this one?

Update your social media

  • Keep your network informed about your goals, skills and value proposition.
  • Remind yourself that many jobs today are virtual, allowing you to work from home even as you move with your spouse.
  • In advance of your relocation, connect with other military spouses in the area to which you are moving. They can provide you with a network of friends and contacts when you arrive.

Keep your resume current

  • Update your resume to reflect your current skills, experience and credentials.
  • Explain the short-term moves in your opening "Summary" to help readers see that your job history reflects your role as a military spouse.
  • Include an "Objective" or "Goals" section to weave your past experiences, credentials and job history into a story of what you are working toward. Help the reader understand why your background reflects many moves, experiences and employment positions.

Take time to breathe

  • Moving your family, stuff and professional network -- even for a short-term assignment -- is very stressful. If you take care of yourself, you are better equipped to care for those around you.
  • Consider taking a class or developing a new hobby. This will also expand your social circles, as well as help you focus on something you enjoy. Who knows -- you might find a new career, too!

Receiving PCS orders does not have to mean the end of your career. In fact, with intention and strategy, moving around can actually enhance your skills, expertise and network, benefiting you over your entire career.

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