Military Spouse: What to Do When It’s Time to Get Back to Work

Military Spouse Back To WorkKnowing when to get back to work is a tricky decision in and of itself for any military spouse. So taking those initial steps into a job search can feel like a momentous task. However, understanding the transition back into the workforce can help with embracing the new journey you are about to embark upon.

In addition to utilizing any and all services available to support spouse employment, it is important to look more personally at your own situation to understand how you can be a successful job seeker. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 Remove the “Dependent Spouse” name tag. As a military spouse, you’re accustomed to being called a dependent spouse, and most of us wear that badge proudly. When it is time to transition back into the workforce, it is important to temporarily remove that name tag in order to be able to discover who you are outside of the military ranks. Luckily, as a military spouse, you have the keen ability to be able to transition and integrate into multiple cultures, situations, and military organizations, which is a great skill to tap into when it is time to transition back into the workforce.

Figure out what you want to do. Reentering the workforce after a leave of absence, whether it has been a few months or several years, is a scary experience. Before jumping in, it is a good idea to take stock of your personal and professional ambitions. What you previously did may not be what you want to do anymore, so find what works for you. Consider different activities that you are good at and think about some hobbies and activities you enjoy. Once you know what you excel at and what you really like, research different positions that fit into those categories to give you a foundation to build on.

Get documents together. Depending on your length of unemployment, the amount of work you need to do with your professional documents may vary. Having an updated resume that includes your work history, education, and volunteer activities is essential for applying to professional positions. Additionally, it is helpful to brush up on your writing skills for cover letters, professional emails, and thank-you letters. Other documents to have on hand are letters of recommendation you have received, professional portfolio pieces, and any licenses, diplomas, or certificates you have earned.

Plan and prepare for roadblocks. It is inevitable that there will be a few roadblocks to face as you re-enter the workforce, but don’t let it discourage you. Plan and prepare for them as much as possible. For example, know how to answer questions related to employment gaps or frequent and different employers due to PCSing. Additionally, prior to interviewing, practice focusing on what you can bring to the organization, rather than your duties as a military spouse.

Consider family situations and support systems. Varying family circumstances and support systems can make the process of going back to work easier or more difficult. Before applying to or accepting a position, it is beneficial to consider childcare and transportation arrangements, your local support system, and any pending military mission requirements.

Research a range of work options. For most military spouses, it comes as no surprise that flexibility in the workplace is not a perk, but a necessity. Expanding your job search beyond the traditional forms of work into more modern work-life blending options can open a number of different opportunities. Consider searching for legitimate remote and flexible jobs that will allow you to take on a professional role while being a military spouse.

 No matter your reason for getting back to work or the length of time you have been out of the workforce, the decision can create transitional feelings and situations similar to a new duty station or lengthy separation. While most professionals face many of the challenges we military spouses face, there are a few unique challenges that influence the type of job we search for, the way we search, and what is important in a job. Being proactive in your job search and being prepared can make a smooth transition back to work.

Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a researcher and Team Lead for the writing team for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities through finding and verifying legitimate flexible positions. She provides job search information, tips, and insight into the employment world related all job seekers through the FlexJobs Blog. 

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