Spousal employment has been in the spotlight lately with ambassadors for change like former First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and, most currently, White House Advisor Ivanka Trump championing for it. It has brought a lot of attention to the need for education to many employers about the many benefits of hiring military spouses to fill vacancies within their companies and organizations. So much so that there are now many nonprofit organizations that make it their sole focus in providing such education.
So one must wonder with all of these efforts and changes in process, where does that leave you — the military spouse, the mother, the professional home chef, the household educator, the domestic engineer? How can you benefit from all of these efforts in a positive way?
While some might find this a daunting question to answer or have preconceived ideas that the search for employment as a military spouse is an arduous process, I would like to share with you how I keep a positive and goal-oriented mindset when it comes to looking for employment. I learned to “FLIP” over my employment seeking process. Now when I say “FLIP” I am not talking about the flip out that one might have when the commissary or BX no longer stocks their favorite items. To “FLIP,” I keep my outlook Flexible and Focused, constantly Looking and Listening for Leads, doing my best to stay Informed, and remaining Prepared for Any Possibilities.
Now let’s break this down even further. What does one need to do to “FLIP”?
F – FLEXIBLE AND FOCUSED
Military spouse life and transient life almost go hand in hand depending on your service member’s branch and specialization, so flexibility is key in being successful in finding a job. Flexibility comes into play in many areas of the job search process. For example, are you willing to work part time or temp to hire, are you willing to work weekends, are you willing to volunteer until a position that is suited for you becomes available, or are you willing to take a job at a lower step or grade until your desired job becomes available. Realistically, there will be times when you will be faced with one of the aforementioned scenarios. This is also how flexibility ties in neatly with how focused you are able to be during your job search. It is helpful during your job search to map out the end goal you want to achieve and then, based on that, decide what steps or how flexible you are willing to be to get to that end point.
L – LOOKING AND LISTENING FOR LEADS
There are a lot of ways to keep yourself aware of potential employment leads. I recommend visiting sites of the companies you want to work with regularly and bookmarking them for easy access. It can also be helpful to join professional pages on social media (like LinkedIn and Facebook) for networking. Lastly, if available in your branch, signing up for your local Family Employment Readiness Program email blast is a great way to get yourself in tune to what jobs are available not only on base, but with companies that are partnering with your branch’s Family Resource Center.
I – INFORMED ALWAYS
Having worked for the Navy’s Fleet and Family Support Center, their programs really strive to fully educate everyone that attends their courses. Most branches offer programs similar to this, with classes like Federal Employment Search, Resume Writing, Building a Business, etc. These courses are available to you at no cost and are a great way to stay informed.
P – PREPARED FOR ANY POSSIBILITIES
Preparing is a word that spouses know all too well. Prepare for deployment, prepare for your PCS and prepare for retirement. So this is really no different. It is a great idea to have multiple types of resumes and cover letters available so when opportunities come you are ready to jump.
Overall, being goal-oriented, prepared and flexible are keys in being successful with your own journey to “FLIP” in your job search process and take advantage of forthcoming employment advances.