Every day I work with military spouses just like you who are looking for a job. Over time, I’ve come to think that spouse job search fears really have something to do with how often you have to look for work. If you were not a military spouse, looking for a job would be less frequent and it would be on your own terms. Yet when it comes to a military spouse's career, everything is on everyone else’s terms. It’s like the world is saying, “Do it again. Do it in a different area. You need to learn something else new. And, oh, by the way, we need to pay the bills, too. So hurry up.”
No wonder we all have some spouse job search fears. I know that military spouses do have challenges. Just like any other challenge in your life, a few specific strategies will help you get over it and get on with it. Here are some tips that work for my clients:
- Set an “At This Base” goal. Your long-term goal may be to have a master’s degree. But your reality is that you won’t be at an installation long enough to complete that degree. If you know you will live there for two years, two years is long enough to complete an associate’s degree. Completing an associate’s degree at this base now becomes the “at this base goal”. The same thing works for your career. You may have a goal to be the supervisor of all counselors in county schools. Two years isn’t long enough to reach that goal. So set a goal of being the most innovative school counselor in the county for the next two years.
- Adapt or stay home. The reality is that the kinds of jobs that are available on your spouse job search are based on your current geography. If your degree is in marine biology and you get stationed in North Dakota, your job choices are in North Dakota.
- Know your worth and apply it to your area. Don’t sell yourself short about your skills, but also consider the area that you are living in. It costs more to live in some areas than other; as a result those areas typically pay better than areas where the cost of living is lower. Do your research so about the labor market so you can set a realistic salary expectation.
- Strategic volunteering will get the best paid results. You might get a nice warm fuzzy from volunteering at your children’s school. But if your career path has not pointed you to a teaching profession, split your time volunteering between the school and a place where you can network with the professionals in your career field. In fact, it is OK for your ALL your volunteer time to be a little selfish. Ask, “Can this help my career if I volunteer here?” If it can, then this opportunity is a good stop on your spouse job search.
- Check into www.servicelocator.org.When I have a client come to me and tell me they are PCSing, I always refer them to Service Locator.org (www.servicelocator.org) to find the nearest One-Stop (what our country calls offices like JobsPlus across the country). Type your zip code into the box on the left side of the page that says “One-Stop Career Centers” to find the location of the nearest one-stop. The search will also be able to provide you with a list of the services that are available at that location and a point of contact for veterans. I just hope one of these days you walk into my office. I’m here to help put your job hunt fears to rest..