Your spouse has made many sacrifices to remain by your side while you pursue your military career—one of them may have been their own professional career.
Perhaps they gave up a military career, never capitalized on the great master’s degree they studied for, left the professional workforce to raise children, or resigned from their dream job to follow you to duty station after duty station with limited employment options. But now the time has come—the children are a little older, you need another income to support the family as you transition to civilian life, or you have the opportunity for locational stability. Your spouse is indicating they are interested in returning to the workforce, so jump on board. There is a lot that you can do to help your spouse re-launch their professional career.
1. Discuss career-related decisions as a team.
It is not as simple as your spouse “getting a job.” If you are a dual-professional couple (particularly if your job involves long hours, deployments or frequent travel), there has to be some discussion on how the family unit will function.
- Have kids? Do you have family support or will you need to ensure that one parent is available to care for children outside daycare and school hours. Can you both take jobs that involve travel? What types of parental leave policies does each partner’s employer offer? Don’t be surprised if you discover your employer has more generous policies than your spouse’s when they first re-enter the workforce.
- Household duties? Cleaning, cooking, doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping will still need to be done. How will you share these responsibilities if you both work full time? If you are serious about helping your spouse navigate a return to the professional workforce, you will need to recruit professional assistance or shoulder a greater load of the responsibilities your spouse covered while they were not working.
2. Make savvy locational choices.
Your dream job is in a remote location in Nevada or on a small foreign detachment in Singapore. How does this gel with professional career opportunities in your spouse’s field? When both spouses are pursuing professional careers, there has to be some give and take on location. The military isn’t renowned for honoring your top preference, but make sure you are not targeting jobs in geographic areas that are “career black holes” for your spouse.
3. Ensure sure your spouse is tapped into the great military spouse employment programs.
There are many free programs that will provide job-search assistance and hiring preferences to help your spouse pursue a professional career. Some of these services are only available while you are in uniform, so may sure you take advantage of them before it is too late.
- Hiring Preferences. The Department of Defense (DoD) offers employment placement preference to military spouses. Visit Military One Source to learn more.
- Spouse-Friendly Employers. The U.S .Chamber of Commerce sponsors Hiring our Heroes—a national initiative to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful work.
- Job-Search Assistance. Spouse Education and Career Opportunities offer a wealth of information on salary and employment opportunities. Your local base also has a Family Employment representative who can provide assist with resumes and job search strategies.
4. Encourage your spouse to start expanding their professional network.
Reinvigorating a professional network is one of the fastest ways to get inspired and get hired. Make sure your spouse is familiar with the professional networking opportunities available for spouses—online and in-person.
- In Gear Career provides military spouse networking and career development opportunities.
- LinkedIn has a Military Spouse Professionals group.
- Facebook has a Career Military Spouses group.
5. Locate avenues for your spouse to further their education, gain certification or experience “skill-set growth” in the 12 months prior to returning to work.
There are generous programs, scholarships and grants to help spouses gain licensing or pursue professional careers, but many spouses don’t know they exist. Point your spouse in the direction of the National Military Family Associationas it maintains a comprehensive list of scholarships, grants and programs.
Returning to work in a professional capacity can be a daunting prospect for anyone who has spent significant time out of the workforce. Your encouragement and proactive support are vital in helping your spouse pursue a professional career—ensuring the financial stability of your family and easing the stress of the change.