“I love working on my resume!” said no military spouse ever.
For many military spouses, resume-writing brings about feelings of stress and dread. We want to crawl under our covers and hide because something nasty is snickering at us from the white space:
Gaps on a military spouse’s resume are common, and reasons for them include:
- An overseas PCS
- A new baby
- Limited employment opportunities
- A short assignment
We might have chosen to stop working, or we might have felt like the military lifestyle chose for us. Regardless, the more gaps that exist and the longer they’re there, the weaker our resumes feel to us. And that has the tendency to make us lose our sense of purpose.
Is there a way to fill those gaps? Yes. In fact, three simple strategies might prove to do more for you than any conventional black and white on your resume ever did. Check it out:
1. Exercise and Improve Your Skills
If you just PCS’d overseas or to a location with limited employment opportunities, take the chance to advance your skills. Think strategically about building your skills so that you’ll earn more money or climb the next rung on your career ladder.
Take advantage of a PCS-perk and get your free upgrade to LinkedIn Premium. As a Premium member, you can access LinkedIn Learning, a library of 12,000 courses that offer skills training in a range of topics and complexity. Follow a LinkedIn Learning Path, which is a series of courses on the same topic. Finishing a LinkedIn Learning Path will earn you a “Badge,” which you can display on your LinkedIn profile.
Traditional college or community college classes will provide you with great opportunities to learn and engage with other people just like you, too. And don’t forget the public library, which often has groups that focus on building skills, such as public speaking, writing or technology.
Intentionally filling a gap with skills-building activities can bring you a great sense of pride, and potential employers will love to read about it in your next cover letter.
2. Consider Remote Work
If the gaps in your resume are a result of repeated stops and starts between PCS’s, then maybe it’s time to consider remote work.
Remote work allows you to transition between assignments without much of a hiccup. You can maintain an enjoyable job, feel productive and contribute financially to your family.
If you’re hesitant because you’d miss the social interaction that traditional jobs bring, think about this: companies are growing increasingly innovative when it comes to cultivating a social atmosphere in a virtual environment. For example, I work remotely as a freelance writer through MadSkills, a military-spouse founded company that builds and manages companies’ virtual teams. MadSkills’ remote workers are spread across the globe, but we still have a sense of community and support. The MadSkills core team accomplishes this by harnessing the power of Slack’s unique technology, consistently recognizing employees for jobs well done and providing regular motivational speakers and online meet-ups.
More and more companies like MadSkills are targeting military spouses because they are often highly trained and bring an excellent work ethic. To echo Uncle Sam, they want you – and they want to offer you a job that you can take with you from place to place.
This is where you can kick resume gaps to the curb and ask an employer where to sign.
3. Make Your Dream Happen… NOW
Many of you probably harbor a dream to become something more. You have a skill or an idea that you know you can turn into something amazing – and when you see others do something similar, you might think, “I could do it better.”
There is no better time than during a “gap” to turn that dream into reality. So chase it. Make it happen.
Surround yourself with knowledge and networks to lay a foundation, and then begin climbing your ladder. Focus on your area of interest, and take some strategic steps:
- Join professional organizations.
- Join informal groups to learn, practice or network. The library or local recreation centers are great places to start.
- Attend conferences.
- Read the five most recommended books in your field.
- Subscribe to newsletters from respected organizations.
- Join Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups that focus on your skill or area of interest.
- Volunteer for an organization. This provides you the chance to sharpen your skills and earn a solid reference.
Keeping a dream on the horizon leaves it out of reach. But, placing yourself at the center of the dream gives you essential fuel to turn your dream into your reality.
By immersing yourself in communities of likeminded people, you can stimulate your brain, exercise your skills, get invaluable practice, learn from mentors and form connections that will propel you forward.
You might want your dream to turn into a career, or you might want to check off a huge box on your bucket list. Regardless, using a gap as a time to make that happen will increase your sense of purpose, and you will learn and grow in ways that you can’t imagine just by staring at your dream on the horizon. And making your dream happen is an excellent type of experience to share with a potential employer someday, as it demonstrates initiative, perseverance, strategy and innovation.
Years from now, this time won’t look like a gap at all. It will look like the time that your life took off.
There’s no denying that military spouses’ resumes can take a real hit in this lifestyle. But, we have an opportunity with every PCS to use the transition as a launch pad for a new start. I’ve done it. Many others have, too. Resume gaps don’t have to look like irreparable damage on our employment history. By taking intentional, strategic steps, we can fill those gaps with pursuits that will give meaning to our days and endless possibility for our futures.