The Paid Job Interview: Hiring Our Heroes' Secret to Military Spouse Employment

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Give a military spouse a certification, and their career dreams can live for a day. Give a military spouse an interview, and they can make their career dreams come true forever. (Plus, solve some retention issues.)

That is why I am so intrigued with a new fellowship program that is helping military spouses land a job offer through what is essentially a paid, 12-week interview that leads to a job offer.

What Is the Real Problem with Spouse Employment?

Landing the interview is the real problem with military spouse unemployment. Study after study demonstrates that the problem with military spouse unemployment is not that spouses do not want jobs. More than half of them work or are actively seeking jobs. And 40% of them say their family has considered leaving active-duty service because of challenges with spouse employment.

Nor is the problem the lack of education among spouses. If anything, we are overeducated.

Nor is the resume an insurmountable problem. When their resume is off, our team at the Veteran Employment Project is training them how to master the tricks of checklist resumes and federal resumes and interview skills.

The problem with spouse unemployment is that we spouses cannot get interviews after a permanent change of station, or PCS -- especially at higher levels of management. Why? Because we lose our professional network and professional standing every time we move.

Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot

A new program is focused on solving the interview problem. The U.S. Department of Defense collaborated with Hiring Our Heroes and Deloitte to launch the Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot (MSCAP) in 2023. This competitive fellowship pilot places career-ready, currently serving military spouses with civilian employers for 12 weeks of paid professional training, networking and hands-on experience.

You read that right. This is a paid internship program for spouses that leads to a job for most participants. So far, more than 400 military spouses were placed or hired directly by 250 employers. More than 85% of participants who completed the program were hired. And of those jobs, 59% of them were fully remote -- exactly what we spouses need if we are going to continue to support a PCSing service member.

Will this program work for every spouse? Of course not. A variety of programs is needed to reach different kinds of spouses at different times during their career. No one-size-fits-all solution will ever work for such a diverse population as military spouses.

Since MSCAP is a competitive program, they cannot take every qualified applicant. This program is meant for the spouses of those who are currently serving in the military, including active duty, reservists and national guard. To participate, a spouse needs to live in the United States.

The spouse also needs to be "career ready," which means they need to articulate a career path that matches their qualification and education and show up at work in person. The top roles employers are looking for are in:

  • Human resources/talent acquisition
  • Program/project management
  • Business operations and administration
  • Data and program analysis
  • Information technology

The MSCAP program works because it takes the place of a local network for job-seeking military spouses. The heroes here are the local program managers who not only coach participants with the job hunting skills they need, but also develop relationships with local hiring managers with open positions. One successful spouse hire often leads to another.

Interested? Here's where to apply for an MSCAP fellowship.

Spouse employment is one of the problems the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, Space Force know they need to solve for a robust 21st-century military. Programs such as MSCAP show how the government, military and community can come together to solve the structural problems of military life. This is one more step in the right direction for so many military families. Let's keep going.

Jacey Eckhart is's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, Reach her at 

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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page or reach out on LinkedIn Jacey Eckhart.

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