Category Archives: Military spouse employment

I am More Than a Spouse…So are YOU!

I have a confession to make. The #MoreThanASpouse campaign is about me. Well, not just me. It’s about me, and my co-worker, and my best friend, and my next-door neighbor. It’s about all of us.

square-more-than-a-spouse-blog

I’ve been a military spouse for 10 years. I am so proud of my husband and am honored to support him in his career. I am happy to follow him from one duty station to the next, because there isn’t any place I would rather be than with him. I am happy to support him as he studies for promotions, and volunteers his time, and leaves for TDYs and deployments. I am so proud of him.

His career is not mine though. It’s wonderful, and it’s something to be proud of, but it’s not me.

When we move to a new area, the most common first question I’m asked is, “What does your husband do?”

It’s rarely, “What do you do?”

Or even, “Tell me about yourself.”

It’s never really bothered me; it’s the nature of the beast. Military life means you move when they tell you, where they tell you. It means the mission comes first, and sometimes, that means there’s no one for you to rely on but yourself. It means leaving jobs, and being on call 100% of the time. It means doing what you must do rather than what you want to do.

The service member serves. The service member sacrifices. The service member follows orders. Sometimes it feels like the family only follows. But families serve, too; by keeping things quiet and stable at home, allowing the service member to do their job and focus on their mission. So many of us set aside our hopes and dreams to focus on the work at hand.

As we get older, and as the kids grow, I am realizing there is much more to me than just my role as a spouse.

I am so much more than a spouse.

There are things I want to do with my life: I want to be a leader. I want to make a difference. I want to change the world for the better. Yes, I want to support my spouse, but I want to do more. I can be more. These desires are not mutually exclusive.

pinterest-more-than-a-spouseFor the More Than a Spouse project, we sought out military spouses and asked them to tell their story. In recent years, there has been a lot of ugliness directed at military spouses. We’ve been called names, we’ve been reduced to stereotypes. Employers reject us. Communities fail to see our worth. We’ve been told, “You do nothing. You are not special. You do not serve.” (Yes, that was an actual comment we received this week on our Facebook page)

This project was not intended to claim we serve in the same way our spouses do. We know that’s not true. Our lives are deeply impacted by our spouse’s military service, but that isn’t what this video is about.

This project is intended to encourage military spouses to take a closer look at themselves. Forget what the world says. Forget what the “haters” say. What matters most is what you think, and what you want to make of yourself. What matters most is who you are, and who you want to be.

Recently, I sat down with some of the military spouses I admire most. These spouses are leaders in their communities, and wonderful mothers and fathers. They are supportive. They are doing amazing things at work, at home, and in their communities. I asked them two simple questions:

“What is special about you? What are you proud of?”

I handed them a marker and a piece of paper. They laughed nervously, shifted their weight in their seats, and sighed. They stared back at me, shaking their heads, and it broke my heart.

“I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what makes me special”

But we do. We see you.

We see you at home. We see you comforting children who just want to talk to Daddy while he’s in the field. We see you when you have the flu, but you’re up anyways, caring for your sick children because there’s no one to call for backup. We see you delivering babies alone while your husband is serving 3000 miles away. We see you attending parent-teacher conferences alone while your wife is downrange.

We see you in the community, volunteering with the booster club, or the FRG, or in the thrift store on base. We see you attending college, writing papers long into the night. We see you bringing meals to other spouses, being there when someone needs support, and helping wash the uniform just one more time as your spouse packs their go-bag.

We see the pride on your face when your spouse is promoted, and the hurt in your eyes when they hug you goodbye. We see your strength and your heartache.
We see your potential. We know you have hopes and dreams. We know it will be hard.

But we know you can do it. You’ve shown us that again and again. You can do anything you set your mind to. You are capable. You are valuable. You are important.

What makes you special? What do you want to be?

Share your “I am” pictures with us on social media using the hashtag #MoreThanASpouse, or email us at social@militaryfamily.org.

HeatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

The Trifecta: Find The Perfect Job for Your Military Life

When I have conversations with military spouse friends, it’s a good bet one of them is in search of a job at any given time during the year. They are trying to find a job in the field they studied in school, or trying to find anything in the little rural town they are now stationed at. Whatever the challenge is, we all know it can be a beast to make the same career work with a military lifestyle.

Trifecta

 

One thing that we all need to believe is that military spouses can, and should, tame these beasts!

During my work with NMFA, I have come across many spouses in all kinds of situations. With this firsthand knowledge, paired with a little research, I have figured out there’s a key to taming the beast…and it’s called the Trifecta.

When in the market for a job, or even when you are considering going back to school, the Trifecta should be at the forefront of your mind. Too often, military spouses pursue education or jobs that are lackluster, and definitely not Trifecta material. Whether these spouses chose convenience and cost, before considering stability and longevity, it’s important to know that the Trifecta will make those precious dollars spent on your education and career well worth it in the long run.

If you’re returning to school or applying for jobs, keep the Trifecta at the top of mind and you will be one step closer to a more lucrative and durable career to compliment your military life. Consider what could happen if you don’t take these questions seriously: What school should I go to? What degree? What certification? What job?

Remember: don’t settle. You can tame the education and career beast!

So, what’s the Trifecta, and why should it matter to me? A job will fall under the awesome Trifecta if it’s:

  1. In a high demand field: ‘High demand’ can be defined as urgent or pressing requirement. Jobs in high demand will have more opportunities and more availability for new positions. In nut shell – they will be hiring!
  2. Financially sound: Consider what the pay will be and what the pay potential can be. People who are getting paid to their satisfaction are more likely to be happy and more likely to stay in those positions. According to the Social Security Administration the national average wage index for 2013 (last reported) was $44,888.16.
  3. Portable: This is the elusive golden egg for military spouses who are moving around every few years. If the job or career is not portable, you may have to start from square one and get back in the job market all over again.

But what does a Trifecta job look like? Here are some careers that fit the bill:

trifecta-job-listing
After researching statistics with the Department of Labor, I have determined these jobs not only are in high demand, but they are financially sounds jobs, which could be portable. This certainly isn’t a complete list of all the Trifecta jobs out there, but these are options that should be highly considered.

Think your ready to go back to school, or find your new career, but not sure where to start? Join us tonight for a Facebook party, where NMFA will be giving away $5,000 in scholarships, and where you’ll have a chance to chat with panelist and other military spouses who’ve gone back to school, found Trifecta jobs, and who want you to know their secret to finding it! The fun starts at 9pm ET! Come join us in your PJ’s and network with other military spouses!

Believe in Yourself

Have you had any luck finding a job that fits the Trifecta? Tell us about it!

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Program Manager, Spouse Education + Professional Support

#MoreThanASpouse: How 85% of People Find Their Next Job

Like many military spouses, I got a late start on my career. Early on, my husband and I agreed that it made the most sense for me to stay home with our son until he was in school. Unfortunately, by the time our son was ready to head to school, we were stationed overseas for two back-to-back assignments, further delaying the start of any meaningful career.

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When we moved back to Washington, D.C. from overseas, I was so excited about the prospect of finally putting my degrees to work. Our son was going to be in school full time, my husband was going to a desk job, our extended family lived close by in case we needed help, and we were finally moving back home! I remember being so optimistic; I had a Master’s degree and spoke three languages, surely I would have my choice of interesting jobs.

I was wrong.

The DC area ranks the highest in the nation for people with advanced degrees. It is also a very multi-cultural area, and most people are multi-lingual. My ‘competitive edge’ wasn’t going to be enough to make me stand out. I kept a binder full of all the jobs I applied for and the rejection letters I received. That binder was getting impressively thick when I realized I was going nowhere fast.

Thankfully, I had a wonderful mentor who encouraged me to start networking and meeting more people. My job search had been full of a few ‘ups’ and some more debilitating ‘downs,’ up to that point, and I was at the end of my wits. I was willing to try just about anything within reason to get my foot in the door, so why not start networking? I pushed outside of my comfort zone and got serious about expanding my networks. I began to see everyone as a potential connection.

While I was auditing a class on Congress and the Military, one of the speakers really resonated with me. When the session ended, I walked up to introduce myself, thanked her for everything she and her organization did on behalf of military families, and finished with an offer to volunteer if they ever needed the extra help. When I got home, I followed up with an email note sharing a little more about my background, reiterating my offer of assistance, and attached my resume.

I was mildly surprised when an email came back encouraging me to apply for a job that she thought would be a great fit for within their organization. Fast forward a few months, I did end up going to work for that organization, but more importantly, I learned a very important lesson: over 85% of people will find their next job through the ‘hidden job market’ (jobs that are not actually posted to the general public).

In order to access these jobs, you need to expand your networks. There are no shortcuts…you need to get out there and meet people! Platforms like LinkedIn have helped equalize the playing field for military spouses, to a certain extent, allowing us to start networking before we even move to the next installation. But nothing replaces that face to face interaction. You’re going to have to get out there and meet people. Be on the lookout for conferences to hone your skills, learn about the latest resources, and meet people within your industry. Make sure you have a networking card, attend events, and be diligent about your follow up. This is what’s going to make the difference in your job search.

Entrepreneurs, the advice is just as relevant for you: when you move, you’re going to need to find your niche, your community and your new potential clients/customers.

Getting started can be a bit daunting. As an introvert, I understand this well! If you’d like some more information about Networking 101, check out our easy tutorial. If you’re ready to put your networking skills to work and eager to learn more about building portable careers, we hope you’ll join us at our 5th Annual Military Spouse Career Summit to meet like minded military spouses.

Remember: the online community is great, but nothing beats that face to face interaction. Get out there and start networking!

Believe in Yourself

Ready to network? Get your pajamas, a glass of hot tea, and your laptop ready! Join NMFA and other military spouses – including myself – for a Facebook party tomorrow from 9pm-10pm EST as we chat, network, and share our education and career goals! If you’re ready to be #MoreThanASpouse: this is a virtual networking event you don’t want to miss!

sue-hoppin-headshotPosted by Sue Hoppin, military spouse, Founder and President of the National Military Spouse Network–a professional development and networking membership organization supporting the professional career and entrepreneurial goals of military spouses

Tips for Military Spouses: How to Land Your Dream Job!

I was hired by NMFA almost six months ago. When I was looking at this job, it was clear I had all the experience and expertise I needed to thrive. What I didn’t have was experience interviewing. I was so nervous! In the days leading up to my interview, I spent a good chunk of time on Pinterest looking for the internet’s best tips and tricks to help me land the job. They must have worked, because I am here to write this blog post for you today!

How to Land Your Dream Job

Fill in the Blanks

I have yet to meet a military spouse without an employment gap in their resume. Orders overseas, short orders to isolated locations and licencing transfer issues can all add up to a resume that resembles Swiss cheese.

However, many of us keep busy with unit booster clubs, spouses clubs, FRG’s, and other volunteer work. The time you spent as the events chair for the spouses club, and the year you spent volunteering with the PTA can go on your resume. Fill in those blanks!

Fancy that Resume

You want your resume to stand out from the crowd. This tip really comes down to what field you are applying for, but for me, with a job in the communications field, a fancy resume was a no-brainer. This job required design work and social media savvy, so I chose to go with a graphics heavy, colorful resume that linked directly to my social media accounts. It may not have been what landed me this job, but it did help me stand out from the crowd.

Even if you are applying for a more conservative field (those finance execs may not be impressed with your use of color) you can still get creative with your layout, white space and phrasing.

Leverage your  Connections

One perk of being a military spouse is that you probably know people all over the world. When I applied for this job, I phoned in a friend I met earlier this year at Hiring Our Heroes to look over my resume. She promised she would personally send it along to my (soon to be) boss, and I have no doubt her help ensured my resume would actually be read. If you know someone who knows someone, don’t be afraid to give them a call to put in a good word for you!

Dress for Success

When you do show up for your interview, first impressions count. You’ll want to make sure you are appropriately dressed. Do your research! Did you know different colors send different messages? Do you know when to bring out the colorful jewelry, and when to stick with stud earrings?

Speak Clearly and Stand Up Straight

Now that you are in the room, it’s time for the hard part! Never underestimate the power of eye contact, a firm handshake (and a friendly laugh!).

Answer (and Ask!) Hard Questions

Be prepared for your interview! Don’t forget to do your research about the company you are applying to. Be prepared with questions about the goals and mission. Show your excitement about the job. Ask your own questions, and be prepared to give details about the experiences you listed on your resume.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard

I don’t have a Pinterest tip for this one, but I wish I had one before my interview! I was prepared to answer questions, but I was not prepared for a group interview, or, the hands-on test that followed our sit-down. In my interview, I met my entire department, answered questions from each person, and then was handed an assignment and was given an hour to complete it. I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life! The good news is, I really was qualified for the job, so completing the assignment wasn’t terrible… but I did go home and obsess over my answers for days.

Follow-Up

Following up feels like the most awkward part of the entire process, but I do think it’s valuable. After the interview, make sure you contact the person you met with to thank them for their time. This is a great chance to ask for a timetable (if you didn’t remember to ask during the interview) so you have some idea of how long you’ll have to wait for a decision!

Believe in Yourself

Are you unsure of your career goals? NMFA has scholarships and resources to help you make a career change or get started on your degree. Make sure you join us at our #MoreThanASpouse Facebook Party this Thursday, August 20th, for scholarship information and an opportunity to network with spouses in your chosen field!Follow us on Pinterest for more tips!

What tips do you have for spouses hoping to land the job?

HeatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

Georgia Doesn’t Want “These People…” and They Mean YOU, Military Spouse!

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This week, as part of my position here at NMFA working on spouse licensure issues, an article from The Daily Report popped up in my news feed. It detailed a recent board of governors meeting from the State Bar of Georgia. Apparently, things got heated when board members were asked to vote on whether or not to allow military spouse attorneys the opportunity to provisionally practice law in Georgia.

One board member was quoted as saying, “Why should we let these people come in our state who may not know a…thing about Georgia law and maybe get [their clients] in more trouble than when they started?”

As a military spouse, being called “these people” will always get me riled up. It’s not a very nice thing to say, and I am being nice by putting it that way.

But here’s the thing: I LOVE being one of “these people,” and the board member who called us “these people” obviously doesn’t know that “these people” are amazing.

“These people” include military spouses who started out their lives with a plan, and things changed. They married a service member, committed to selfless sacrifice, duty, and honor.

“These people” followed their service member, with tens of thousands of dollars in law school loan debt and left high paying job offers behind. They put the commitment of their service member ahead of their need to make money.

Yet, “these people” remain committed to service of their own, advocating for clients and causes.

“These people” spent thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours studying and sitting for bar exams, which would only serve them for two or three years. Many of “these people” have three or more active bar licenses before the age of 35, that require them to take continuing legal education courses annually (which cost money), pay annual dues, and adhere to the same code of ethics as their colleagues who are actively practicing.

But “these people” will earn less than those colleagues because they relocated with their service member spouse, over and over again. “These people” have been embraced by 12 states and the Virgin Islands, who recognize the value military spouses bring to the table, and provide a provisional license if a military spouse is licensed through exam in another state.

What “these people” are not asking for is a handout, a lower level of professional, or ethical scrutiny, or different standards. “These people” are asking for a reasonable chance to share their talent and commitment; an opportunity to advocate and represent, and to bring their very specialized, unique and broad perspective to the legal profession in the state where their service member spouse is stationed for what will be too short of a period of time to sit for another state bar exam (a 6-12 month process).

“These people” are serious, professional, dedicated, smart, ambitious, and repeatedly challenged in ways you can’t be if you practice law in the same place your whole career.

“These people” inspire me, and I am lucky to be able to call myself a member of the Military Spouse JD Network, made up of “these people” around the globe, working to, not only, improve each others ability to work and thrive in our careers, but to provide legal assistance and support to other military families.

And the amazing traits of “these people” aren’t limited to attorneys. Military spouses who need licensing accommodations include teachers, nurses, mental health providers, and more.

“These people” are committed to helping their communities, no matter what state they live in. Do not turn “these people” away. I promise, we are worth the trouble.

Brooke-GoldbergPosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director and JD

Never Fear a PCS Again: 4 Steps to a Great Teleworking Career!

4-steps-to-teleworking-career

Telecommuting: working at home by using a computer terminal electronically linked to one’s place of employment.

I think many military spouses fantasize about the glowing beacon of landing the perfect telecommuting job. A job that moves with you from one duty station to the next. A job where your bunny slippers are part of your professional wardrobe and your job-related moving stress consists of ensuring your new location has high-speed internet access.

So how do you find this perfect-for-mobile-life telecommuting job?

You don’t.

Step 1: Start by looking for a job you love, where you can use your skills, education, and training to be successful. I think some struggle because they’re only looking for a telecommuting or a remote job. The place you love might be in an actual brick and mortar building. Don’t count those places out.

Step 2: Excel at your job. Become the go-to-person for your special skills. Be the asset your boss can count on to get the job done. Become your own shiny star in your work universe.

Why put forth this much effort if you’re moving in a few years?

Because you’ve created a successful track record of working hard and proving that you have what it takes to get the job done!

Step 3: Pitch a telecommuting plan to your boss. Review your job duties and descriptions. What portions of your job can be done offsite? What duties must be performed in an office? Next, explore your company’s telecommuting policies. Do they have a telecommuting policy? If not, look for samples in like-industries and provide examples to your employer. Talk to colleagues who telecommute and ask if they work under a formal telecommuting policy. Then, make a pitch to your boss. Show how your job duties can be conducted offsite successfully, and request the opportunity to stay with the company in a telecommuting role. Another tip: take every chance you have to explain why the company benefits from keeping you on staff, even remotely. You’re a shining star, remember? To make things even better before you pitch your telecommuting plan, try working offsite a few days a week before your move.

Step 4: Set yourself up for success once your employer agrees to your new telecommuting arrangement. Have a dedicated work area just for work. Ensure you have a space that clearly separates your work life from your home life. Be familiar with your human resource policies on teleworking, and adapt best practices in your own personal work. Set clear expectations, like the frequency and methods of communication to best connect with your office headquarters.

Teleworking can be a glowing beacon for a lot of military spouses. Take your time and try these steps to create your perfect telecommuting job!

Are you a military spouse who telecommutes? How did you start with your employer? What advice would you add to our list? 

katie2Posted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager (and teleworker!)

Financial Freedom Awaits: Apply for a FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship March 2!

financial-counselorSince I was young, I have been frugal and purposeful with spending money, and I’ve always been great at placing money aside. In my adult and married life, I’ve learned the importance of saving with intention. But I’ve also discovered the importance and power of goal setting. It’s far more powerful to know what one has in mind for the future, especially when it comes to financial freedom.

We have been debt free for five years now. From this experience, it inspired me to join the personal finance field. As a military spouse Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Fellow, I overcame my first challenge as we moved from New Jersey to Arizona. I was beginning my fellowship towards becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor® during a permanent change of station (PCS). I knew that it would take a couple of months for our family to feel settled, so it was a challenge, at first, to find a program that would take me on as a fellow, knowing I was also managing a household after a cross-country PCS move.

I began by teaching the financial literacy curriculum to the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona troops of Cochise County. Then I got connected to a program within the 4-H Cooperative Extension at the University of Arizona-South, called Launch into Life. Through Launch into Life, I was able to teach high school students about the importance of financial planning, along with other skills, like career planning, interviewing, and resume skills.

It wasn’t until I was trained as a Virtual Client Services Representative for Operation Homefront that I began to accumulate the majority of the counseling hours required by the FINRA fellowship program. I was fortunate to find a Certified Personal Financial counselor, who helped me find a volunteer opportunity within the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program. I also had the opportunity to volunteer as a personal financial instructor, teaching National Guard and Reserve Soldiers how make informed decisions about employment using monthly budgets, and I volunteered my time during the tax season with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) for low income families in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The challenge of moving to a new duty station was overcome by getting connected and building a network. The more people I helped, the more these very same people helped me find other opportunities.

The best part of being a FINRA Fellow is getting to see someone understand that money is absolute – a dollar is still a dollar. Money can’t control you, but you can control money. I witnessed children as young as kindergarten learn about wants vs. needs, high school students understand a salary of a cashier does not allow for certain luxuries, like having cable television, and Soldiers having a better understanding of their income vs. expenses – a concept not known unless a monthly budget is made and followed. There are certain things that need to be kept in mind as one begins to accumulate wealth, whether it’s a few hundred dollars, or a thousand; you can either continue to save and spend the same amount of money you always have, or you can learn to adjust your spending habits and save a greater percentage of your income.

Three things to always think about while getting your financial ducks in a row:

  1. You don’t need to make more money to be able to save… simply spend less.
  2. If you don’t have the cash, do not buy it.
  3. Credit cards are not an emergency fund.

Becoming debt free has afforded my family the freedom to be able to give more to help others. It’s lessened the financial stress as we get closer to retirement. Now we can save more…and worry less.

Are you interested in changing your future? FINRA will be accepting applications for their Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellowship from March 2 – April 7, 2015!

Posted by Cynthia Giesecke, FINRA Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellow