Transitioning to the civilian workforce can be a challenge for many veterans, along with their families. I know this first hand, coming from a Air Force family, being married to an Army veteran and being an Army veteran myself.
And for military spouses in particular, frequent relocations can make it tough to start a career or move up the ladder. But during my career in human resources at Bank of America, I’ve witnessed companies – mine included – that recognize that our experience as a military spouse also makes us excellent team members, leaders and employees.
Many of us have already seen growing opportunities for military spouses. What’s important is to help an employer understand your unique value, stand out, and make sure they are the right fit for you. Here are a few tips:
1) Your resume should shout "I can figure it out!"
I often thought of my mother—an Air Force spouse—as the "Chief Operating Officer" of our household. She managed the day-to-day operations of our family, rolled up her sleeves to solve complex problems, and set high expectations for my sister and me. Those experiences translate into a strong work-ethic, discipline, and most importantly, strong problem-solving skills. When with a potential employer, share how the challenges you have overcome as a military spouse will make you more valuable in the workplace.
2) Teamwork and community always matter
When a spouse is deployed, military spouses do far more than care for themselves. Our culture in the military values teamwork and camaraderie, and I know first-hand the incredible support that military families show one another. In a workplace, being a team-player and understanding how to organize and lead a team is crucial.
3) Multiple transitions can be an asset
In an increasingly connected world, companies are attracted to global experience. Military spouses often adapt to—and work in—diverse locations and cultures that can prepare them for a global business culture. That exhausting move from Germany to Korea to Japan can actually be a resume-builder.
4) You understand what it means to be "mission-oriented"
Every great company has a set of corporate values and goals. Take the time to familiarize yourself with a potential employer’s values. Military spouses understand what it means to operate in a "mission-oriented" environment, and expressing your experience and skills in terms of the company's mission can really distinguish you in an interview.
6) Commitments to military support
The best companies for veterans and military spouses understand that military support must be broad. The best fit is a workplace that has a supportive internal culture for veterans and military families. Resources like Military Times’ "Best for Military Spouses" list can help you identify companies that fit the bill. These rankings are based on hiring commitments, programs and benefits geared towards military spouses, and I am proud to say that Bank of America ranks well in these ratings.
7) Use your military network
Look to other military spouses in the workforce and tap into your unique network. Many of the veterans and military spouses that are hired at Bank of America are recommended or referred through their military connections. Just like in the military, tenacity, adaptability and teamwork are key. With those valued skills, you can step into the civilian workforce with confidence.
Brittan duBose is a Human Resources Executive at Bank of America. She is responsible for developing and managing HR strategies for large, complex and global business units. Before joining Bank of America, she served for five years on active duty in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where she met her husband, a former Army JAG Officer. They have two children. To learn more about Bank of America’s support for military service members, military spouses, and veterans, visit their dedicated militarytransition.bankofamerica.com website.