Bad Interviewer: What Brings You To The Area?


Does your resume scream, “I’m a Military Spouse!” Mine sure does.

With volunteer experience in military organizations and a variety of jobs (or the lack of jobs) every few months in different states, it’s safe to say I’m a military spouse.

What do we do in this situation? There is much debate about whether to discuss the topic in and interview.

When I was a new military spouse, we lived in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  This is a small Coast Guard town, so if you aren't a local,  it is likely you may be a military spouse.

I sent in my resume to a local business and the first thing the potential employer asked me was whether I was a Coast Guard spouse.

Having worked in Human Resources, I know that is something the employer should not ask straight out, especially while disregarding all of the other valuable skills I may possess.

He later called the Coast Guard base and asked my husband’s Chief how long we would be there. Unbelievable! Needless to say I did not choose to work for this employer.

So how do we address the fact that we are military spouses in an interview when our resumes may include long employment gaps, frequent job-hopping, and a wide array of jobs all over the world?

What do you say when an employer asks the inevitable question, “So what brought you to the area?”

I have found that many employers are actually very accepting of the fact that I am a military spouse). My personal choice is to address it with honesty in the interview when it comes up.

The interviewers are usually intrigued with my husband’s job and love that I have had such great experiences traveling around the country as a result.

It broadens your perspective on the world and shows the employer that you can adapt well to new situations. These are qualities employers look for.

I was so happy when an employer offered me a job and said, “We would love to have you as long as the Coast Guard lets us have you.”

How refreshing that statement was to hear!

A downside to this honesty is that they may prefer to hire someone who they know will be around for a while. It makes sense in a way, but in reality, people move and take new job opportunities all the time, regardless of if they live a military or civilian life.

The way I look at it is if someone doesn’t want to hire you because you are a military spouse, then did you really want to work for him or her anyway? I sure wouldn’t!

Starting your job search over every few months or years can be discouraging and overwhelming. Here are a few things I have found that have created a more positive outlook on my indefinite job search as a military spouse.

1. NETWORK! Get out there, meet people, and foster meaningful relationships. You never know who may have the connection to the perfect opportunity for you.

2. VOLUNTEER! It is rewarding and fun! Supervisors will see your work ethic first hand and may hire you or know a great place for you to work. It will be much more effective than blindly sending your resume out.

3. IDENTIFY YOUR PASSIONS. What are intrinsic talents and activities that make you happy? Look for unconventional ways you may be able to put these skills to use in a career and love your job at the same time.

4. DON’T SETTLE! You deserve to love what you do. I know it is hard to pass on job offers when you are working around the clock in a new unknown town to find work. So many military spouses settle for jobs they are highly overqualified for because they are just glad to finally have a job. You have great skills and it’s time you know that. So I’m telling you now, YOU ARE WORTH IT!

You have probably seen that quote, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”  The heart of a military spouse is strong and giving and you have so much to offer the world.

We support our Active Duty members 24/7 and are proud of their achievements. You should be proud of your personal career goals, too.

Remember, your confidence is contagious and any good employer will know you are a valuable asset to their team, no matter what brings you to the area.

Kate Garrison, a U.S. Coast Guard Spouse at Air Station Clearwater, Florida 

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