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Employment Resources For Military Spouses
It may seem stressful to consider working when balancing the demands of being a military spouse. Being a military spouse often means relocating. It may also mean being the primary caregiver during deployments and training away from home. However, many military spouses today are able to have full-time jobs that fit their lifestyle. This may include jobs with flexible schedules and work-from-home options.
One of the largest studies of its kind, titled “Working Around the Military: Challenges of Military Spouse Employment,” found that military families with working spouses were the most satisfied.1 In this article, you will learn about resources and programs that will aid in your job search.
Know Your Value to Employers
The education background and lifestyle of military spouses make them appealing hires. Eighty-four percent of spouses have some college education.2 Military life can also help spouses develop qualities and skills that employers value. These include:
- Organizational skills
- Multi-tasking abilities
- Problem-solving skills
- Cultural awareness
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Work ethic
For tips and resources on how to present your skills on a resume, read the Military OneSource article, “Writing a Resume When You’re a Military Spouse.”
Companies are hiring veterans and military spouses “not just because it’s the right thing to do or the patriotic thing to do. They’re doing it because it’s good for their bottom line. They know that these veterans and military spouses represent the best, and they want them on their team.” -
First Lady Michelle Obama2
Connect with Programs Designed to Help You
Defense Department Spouse Employment Resources
Each service branch has programs focused on spouse employment initiatives.
- Army: Employment Readiness Program
- Navy: Spouse Employment Assistance Program [PDF 51.32KB]
- Air Force: Air Force Aid Society Spouse Employment Program
- Marine Corps: Family Member Employment Assistance Program
- Coast Guard: Coast Guard Support or call 1-855-247-8778 (web and telephone- based support)
To find your local program office, visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website. Select “Spouse Education, Training and Careers,” and your installation’s name. Free services may include:
- Job skill assessment and counseling
- Help with your resume and cover letter
- Computer, printer and internet access
- Information on local job market and listings
- Career seminars
- Job search strategies
- Transportation options
- Child care referrals
- Education information
Government, Community and Other Employment Resources
As a military spouse you may qualify for programs, events and assistance that will aid you in your job search. Resources include:
- My SECO (Spouse Education and Career Opportunities): Browse this website for 24/7 job assistance, helpful links, a directory of installation contacts and more.
- National Military Family Association: Explore employment resources, tips and an application for a military spouse scholarship program.
- VetSuccess: This Department of Veterans Affairs site offers VSOC Locations and VSOC Counselor Contact Information.
- The Spouse Channel and Spouse Buzz: Military spouses and other experts offer advice and best practices for securing and maintaining employment.
- Blue Star Families: “By military families, for military families” organization offers a resume toolkit, information on the American Corporate Partnership mentor program and other employment efforts.
- Military Spouse Magazine: Read articles online or subscribe to a hard copy of this publication tailored to you and your career needs.
- National Military Spouse Network: This organization holds career summits and is committed to the professional growth of military spouses.
- Military Spouse Preference Program: Spouses seeking federal jobs can register for priority hiring when their service member receives permanent change of station orders.
- Hiring Our Heroes: This initiative connects spouses to businesses that have committed to hiring 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.
Program Spotlight: The Military Spouses Employment Partnership
The Military Spouses Employment Partnership (MSEP) provides companies with direct access to military spouses who are seeking career opportunities. The program allows spouses to see the companies currently recruiting. When applying to these companies, you will want to identify yourself as a military spouse in your cover letter. Be sure to highlight life experiences that can translate into on-the-job skills.
Spouses can apply for jobs with MSEP partners through the MSEP Career Portal. You must register to access the portal. To register you will need:
- Contact information
- Employment preferences
- Work experience
- Educational background
Use suggested templates and make up to five resumes. Each resume allows you to tailor your information to specific openings or fields. The Career Portal allows you to search by job title or geographic location. An advanced search can be conducted by company, industry and job type. Also, check out the MSEP Facebook page for current events, tips and more job listings. More than 160 Fortune 500 employers have signed on as partners. Since 2011, more than 82,000 military spouses have been hired.3
Explore Your Inner Entrepreneur
If securing a traditional “9 to 5” job is not the right fit for you, a self-owned business may provide the mobility and flexibility you need.4 In addition to support from your installation contacts, the Military Spouse Business Association can point you in the right direction and make sure you don’t miss out on any start-up resources available to military spouses. The organization provides access to information about how to start a business compatible with a military lifestyle and gives a network of other military spouses who own their own businesses.
Military spouses choose different types of employment to fit their lifestyle. Take the time to think about your personal and career goals. One thing is clear: no matter which career path you choose, there are resources to help reach your goal.
- Air Force Civilian Service
- Army Spouse Employment Partnership
- Career OneStop, U.S. Department of Labor
- Department of the Navy Civilian Human Resources
- Joining Forces
- National Resource Directory
- United We Serve
1 Margaret C. Harrell and others. “Working Around the Military: Challenges to Military Spouse Employment and Education,” Rand National Research Institute brief. Originally published 2005. Updated Feb. 2, 2012.
2 Shane III, Leo. “Coalition of companies vows to hire 25,000 veterans, spouses,” Published Oct. 19, 2011.
4 Essner, Elisa. “The Best Self-Owned Businesses for Military Spouses,” Published Oct. 8, 2012.