When my husband received orders to Fort Bliss, Texas, it didn’t come as a surprise -- and neither did my post-move military job search. We lived in the Washington, D.C. area for almost four years, which is a long time in military life. Some people may not put Fort Bliss at the top of their list, but my husband was fortunate enough to land a job working for a previous boss from our time at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and felt this move was great for his career.
Having grown up in Oklahoma, I was excited to return to the Midwest and enjoy the warm weather and a much slower pace compared to the hustle and bustle of D.C. And although at the time I felt that this wasn’t a good move for my career, it ended up being the best step yet.
While living in the D.C. area I was fortunate enough to work at two of the largest national military nonprofits. My positions with these organizations provided me incredible insight into how nonprofits work, the nuances of our federal government and opened my eyes to the vast number of people who are fighting for all of our military, their families, benefits and rights.
When my husband received his orders I knew I would be unable to keep my current position. As disappointed as I was I knew this move offered an opportunity to expand my network, start something new and advance my current skill set. After researching job opportunities in the Fort Bliss area, I wasn’t sure I would find gainful employment but knew I couldn’t stop searching.
Here are the military job search tips that every MilSpouse needs:
1. Join networking groups.I joined both military spouse networking groups and groups for my career field. If you search “military spouse networking” or for my career field “nonprofit happy hour” on Facebook you can find like-minded people to connect with. There are similar LinkedIn groups that I know other people report as having been helpful, but for me Facebook was more beneficial.
2. Search out new and different opportunities.This is why I’m here with you, on SpouseBuzz. To continue expanding my skill set and to explore the opportunity of freelancing, I began writing for SpouseBuzz for a six month contract. Many things changed both personally and professionally in those six months, but it gave me an opportunity to continue to connect with the military spouse community and add these pieces to my resume. When offered a contract versus a permanent position, your first instinct could be to dismiss the offer and continue your military job search elsewhere. But contract work can help you gain experience and determine if the position is one you would like to do permanently.
3. Tell everyone you are looking.Several weeks before moving, I started reaching out to my network to let them know I would be leaving my current position and would be looking for employment at our new location. In that email I asked if they had any contacts I should connect with or knew of any organizations I should research in the area. These personal emails helped expand my network and provided me insight into the job market before we moved. Military spouses often have a vast network due to moves so don’t forget to reach out to friends with a personal email, too.
In the end it was a blend of this advice that helped me secure my current position. The job posting for my current position with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation was posted in a networking group where I am a member. One of my former colleagues reached out after being sent the posting, knowing I was looking, and shared that she had a contact with CKFF and said she would be more than happy to hand off my resume. During my interview I was able to share that I was expanding my skill set through blogging and part-time work with an event company as a contractor (another opportunity found through a former colleague). These contracts were not included on my resume but proved that I was continuing to grow and look for new opportunities.
Moving to an area with a tough job market can seem like a career killer, but continue to connect with people while doing your military job search and you could be surprised what opportunities unfold.