Job searching? Here’s what the Military Spouse Employment Partnership can do for you.

Job searching? Here's what the Military Spouse Employment Partnership can do for you.My husband and I have moved three times in the past four years. To be quite honest, no one knows what the military lifestyle has to offer unless you have lived it and understand the complexities of deployments, moving, the TRICARE system, finding new friends, a new job….the list goes on. Although it can be difficult learning how to navigate the military lifestyle, I am very proud of my soldier and his service to this great Nation.

I remember moving to Fort Campbell, Kentucky after obtaining a graduate degree in Corporate Communication. It was a culture shock. I was looking for “Corporate America” and in reality all I could see for miles were corn fields. I was lucky enough to find a career teaching in higher education where I continue to educate many veterans, spouses, and military kids as an adjunct instructor.

Two moves and two jobs later, I landed a full-time position working as a Deputy Director in the Government Relations department for the National Military Family Association, an enduring partner with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). MSEP is a White House-sponsored Joining Forces initiative that is housed under the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. This initiative seeks to ease the challenges of military life by helping spouses find and maintain rewarding careers despite frequent moves.

As a spouse who wants a rewarding career that matches my education and experience, it is an exhausting process to prepare for interviews, be offered a position, love it, leave it, and start all over again! Although I have never applied to a position through the MSEP web portal, I have learned a tremendous amount about the program. The Association works very closely with MSEP to ensure that military spouses have career opportunities no matter where they live. The MSEP initiative is truly outstanding and I hope all military spouses take advantage of the service offered.

There are many private sector employers and government organizations that are actively searching for military spouses to join their workforces. These organizations want the skills, knowledge, credentials, and attributes that military spouses have to offer. To learn more about MSEP, create a profile on MSEP’s web portal which hosts over 130 Fortune 500 military-friendly partner employers who have pledged to recruit, hire, promote, and retain military spouses. As of today, there are over 180,000 positions posted that are available to military spouses of all branches.

In addition, SECO has other key components that offer career counseling, resume writing, professional mentoring, and support services for education and state licensure. A compiled list of available resources is available in the Spouse Employment section of our website.

I hope you take advantage of these resources as navigating the military lifestyle can be a challenge. I would love to hear from you and learn about your personal experience with job searching. Are you a military spouse seeking a new job? Have you applied for a position using the MSEP website? What challenges have you encountered while job searching?

ccPosted by Christine Gallagher, Government Relations Deputy Director at the National Military Family Association


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  1. 1

    It seems like this could work for a spouse who would want a desk job, but what about a spouse who has a degree in healthcare? I’m a RN and have yet to find anything that relates to my field of work. It could be that I have been looking in the wrong places.

    • 2
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      Thanks for your thoughts – we take your stories and concerns into account when we talk to the people who make things happen. MSEP posts a variety of jobs from employers in several industries and they continues to bring on new partners making the program better and better. It may be helpful to search the employer list for those in the healthcare field. If they do not have an opening now, they may in the future. Unfortunately, MSEP doesn’t capture every open job, but does include the jobs from employers in the partnership.

  2. 3

    I can find a “job” anyone can, but I’m looking for a “career”. I have my Master’s but took 12 years off from the “working” world to raise kids and get my education. Even though I was volunteering almost constantly during that time, I have found that not one employer has an open door for military spouses in Huntsville, AL. Even though I have explained that my husband will be retiring this October and we have no intentions on leaving this area, still nothing. Finally last August, I accepted a position with a local non-profit as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Oh, by the way, VISTA stands for “VOLUNTEERS” In Service To America. So even though I work between 40-60 hours a week, I bring home just over $800 a month, when in truth I should be clearly, at the very minimum $37,500. Sad, but true. I’ve applied for over 400 positions throughout the corporate/civilian and DOD sectors with nothing coming of it.
    Even though I’m down, I won’t be counted out and I know whoever finally gives me my chance, won’t regret that decision ever. I have found a lot of great resources for military spouses searching for employment and have actually made that my main focus point during my time as a VISTA. The fact that America isn’t aware that 77% of all military spouses Need or Want jobs outside the home and military spouses have a 26% unemployment rate makes me so mad, my head could spin. So I will spend the rest of my time as a VISTA fighting for all military spouses out there in the same boat as me, to see if I can make a difference, bring about change, and improve the lives of the military family as a whole.
    If the gov’t spent just a little time rationalizing it, it might make sense to assist military spouses to find secure, well-paying, long-term positions so when their spouse decides to leave the military (whether that be by choice or not, retiring or separating), it would give that service member a little more time to heal from any wounds (seen and/or unseen), focus on exactly what they career-path they to move into within the civilian world and transition into the civilian sector without the added stress of worrying about the financial well-being of their family.

    • 4
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      Sounds like you have explored lots of possibilities and live in an area with limited job opportunities. Just a few resources for you in case you haven’t used these options: it may be helpful to connect with a mentor, such as the eMentor Program or find a community of practice through InGear. Hope thes era eof some help and thanks for the work you’re doing for military spouses in the VISTA program, that’s great!

      • 5

        Thanks for the advice. Huntsville, AL actually has the 2nd largest research park in the country, with the “big boys” of the DoD world (Boeing, NASA, Raytheon, SAIC, etc…) so there are tons of job opportunities for people with experience, it’s getting your foot in the door that’s the problem. That’s where my passion for helping other military spouses comes from and why I have taken that as my platform as a VISTA.
        I am actually familiar with InGear, Lauren Weiner (Board of Directors) is actually one of my Mentor’s through the eMentor Porgram. We have just started our Mentorship, but I am looking forward to learning and growing with her as one of my Mentors.
        MSEP seems to be a good program, just hoping more of the jobs listed on their boards start to get filled with military spouses and/or veterans, with over 446,000 jobs posted and only 22,000 military spouses filling them, that’s only a 5% ‘success’ rate… come on America, we can do MUCH better than that!!
        Ms. Gallagher is assisting with improving those numbers, by getting the word out, educating industry and the public about this problem, and pushing for the American public, as a whole, to step up and really “Support the Troops”. Keep up the good work Ms. Gallagher, we may have a long way to go, but at least we’re on the way!

  3. 6
    Vana D

    I must agree with Anna. I am in a similar situation. I have a Masters in Public Administration/Public Finance and it’s been 3 years I have been without a job. I have applied, registered to numerous websites and done multiple applications. Those applications which by the way are lengthy and are required to be completed in the company’s portal as well as other major job search websites. I have surfed the so called military spouse friendly websites and nothing. Some of the jobs advertised are jobs which I feel are not equivalent or even close to the education I have received. While I have found myself volunteering more, I would want to pin my career as well. I love my sailor but I also want to make a difference in making the economy progress.

  4. 7

    Vana – I have no idea where you are located, but have you looked into AmeriCorps? The pay isn’t much (varies from a little over $800-1,000 a month), but the people you meet and the networking with high positioned individuals in industry and, in my case, the DOD world is unremarkable. You can’t beat it. After a 12 month appointment you are eligible for a non-competitive appointment for a DOD position, which being military sure would come in handy when they hubby transfers, you career-position could transfer also (not always, but usually).
    I also LOVE my AmeriCorps position because I am working directly with assisting military/veterans and their families and that is giving me the ability to affect the lives of thousands of other military families. I look at it as helping out my family, which the Navy & Marine Corps has been for the last 19 years.
    Best of luck to you, don’t give up hope, you and I will find the positions in the careers were supposed to be in when the time is right!! 😉

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