Being a military spouse is not for the faint of heart. Being career-minded while your spouse is in the military is particularly challenging. This post is all about 20 things you need to do to successfully navigate being a career-minded military spouse.
I should start by telling you I am speaking from experience.
Having spent my entire life affiliated with the military I have personal, second, and third hand experience with this. Every man in my side of the family has been in a branch of the service. I was born into the military and my husband joined as well. Know that all of this information is coming from years of experience and connections with other military spouses.
The bottom line is, being a career-minded military spouse takes work, patience, dedication and creativity! There’s a lot to cover here so let’s get started!
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Work vs Career
There is no doubt that having a career and being married to a military member is not easy.
Frequent moves due to PCS and overseas assignments make having a career incredibly challenging. There is no guarantee that the duty station your husband or wife gets assigned to is in a town that is big enough to have choices, let alone in your career field.
Here’s the thing though… Sometimes you just can’t find work that is perfectly aligned to your career. It’s not ideal but it’s your reality so don’t let it cloud your judgement.
The reality is sometimes you have to work to be able to work in your career in the future. Let me explain… you can’t guarantee openings in your career field but you can always find work that will SUPPORT your career. Having been in this situation myself, here are five tips for finding work that will help propel you in your career field.
- Look for work that is aligned with your career rather than perfectly “in the box”
- Look for a position that will build skills for the career field you are in or working towards
- Choose a position that will provide training opportunities to enhance your career of choice
- Make connections and keep contact information for your resume (more below)
- Continue to make connections with people INSIDE your career field while working ~ opportunities may arise
Have Patience & Be Flexible
There is nothing more frustrating than moving to a new duty station and not being able to find work in your career field.
It is natural to get really stir crazy and frustrated. One thing you should remember is many others have been in your position. You will find work that will look great on your resume if you are flexible in what you are looking for. I, along with many others, have had to do this too. We found success and so will you!
It is important that you remain patient and be flexible in your search for work. Below are 5 tips related to patience and flexibility that will help you gain valuable experience for your resume!
- Research specialties within and related to your career field
- Journal or Make a list regarding the ideal position within your career
- Look for positions or jobs that would help build your resume with skills related to specialties and your list
- When applying for positions include WHY you are applying ~ it is very common to be considered “over qualified” for positions. YOU build the narrative ahead of time
- When applying be sure to talk to the manager or hiring official ~ introduce yourself, explain why you are applying and be sure to explain that you are a loyal employee that would love to have the opportunity to build your skills in “…..”
A Career-Minded Military Spouse Needs Dedication
There is no question that having a career while your spouse is active duty makes your life MUCH more complicated. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible so don’t let your current circumstances deter you.
You have likely been working in your career field, spent time and money to get closer to your career or both! Even if you find yourself in a position where you are working outside your career field you will overcome this obstacle.
Let’s be real for a second. You have made it this far and you are NOT going to let your spouse’s current duty station change your trajectory or goals. What you have and need is dedication! Here are 5 tips regarding dedication that will help you stay focused on your long term goals.
- Make a career vision board with images, words, and quotes that are focused on your long term career goals (Canva is an amazing tool to help you do this!)
- Print and frame your vision board where you see it every day
- Join a community or social group that is related to your career field (there are likely others in your same position)
- Even if you find yourself taking longer than you prefer to find work, do NOT give up!
- Find opportunities to volunteer while you are out of work. This is IMPORTANT for your resume!
Military Spouse + Career = Creative
You probably know better than anyone that being a career-minded military spouse means you are going to have to be creative. Whether you are creative with the positions you accept, how you word your applications for work outside your career field or capturing your work journey on your resume… you are creative!
The most important part of working your way towards your dream job IN your career field is controlling the narrative around your story.
The tips I have included below have helped many military spouses land their dream job and they can help you do the same!
- Write your resume with emphasis on the experience and skills you have gained on your work journey
- Include volunteer work throughout your resume ~ be sure to emphasize your desire to give back to your community and be involved in every community you are part of
- Choose a resume template that is creative ~ your work journey is creative and your resume should match it.
- Include the fact that you are a military spouse in your values or highlights. This can also be touched on briefly in your cover letter.
- In all you do, ensure you control the narrative with a kick-**s cover letter
Career-Minded Military Spouse Thriving
You are a military spouse which means you have the ability to thrive in difficult situations. Being married to the military, so to speak, also means you are able to rise above circumstances, you are flexible and most importantly you are resilient.
Just because your journey may look different than traditional applicants for positions doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified or competitive. Remember, you have the power to tell your own story. Whatever you do, don’t leave it to their imaginations to figure out. YOU will reach your ultimate goal if you are patient, flexible, dedicated and creative.
I say this with confidence because I, along with many others, have seen great success with this process.
FREE Canva Career Vision Board Template
Are you ready to get started on a career vision board? Click on the image below to get access to your template today! This has made a HUGE difference for me and I know it can for you too. There is something about actually seeing your goals on a daily basis that is so powerful and motivating!
Here it is! There are 3 color options included (pictured below); 3 Shades of Pink, Pink and Black and Peach to Purple. These are our most popular color palettes. Once you get the link to the template you also have the option to go in and edit to your heart’s content. Change all of the colors completely if you would prefer.
This post was all about 20 things you need to do as a career-minded military spouse. Never doubt whether you can have your career and your marriage to a service member again!