I recently had a argument conversation with my husband about military spouse employment and by the end of the rift, I am still unsure if he grasps the entirety of the bottom line which is this: his career is an issue for my career.
Does this mean I want him to end his 14 year career in the Marine Corps? Absolutely, not.
I would just appreciate some understanding and support that as a military spouse, we face unconventional employment opportunities. We have no choice other than to work by adapting and embracing the foundation the military issues us. It’s just not that simple for us to find job stability and growth.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I am tired of crap jobs” and “I wish we didn’t have to leave, I just gained my footing.”
If the Marine Corps extended orders to 5 years at a duty station, I think the military spouse community would sing a different tune in terms of employment. Not only would a company feel more inclined to invest in us, but we’d be able to work our way up from the bottom and finally get past those entry level positions. There’s also the problem with license portability from state to state.
Sure, I’ve heard, “don’t mention you’re a military spouse in an interview.” Let’s be real. Any bright recruiter would be able to connect the dots when they ask questions about employment gaps and various addresses listed. The last thing you want to do is make them think you’re ‘flighty’ with your various relocations across country, not to mention the extended stay to Germany that they’ll surely ask about.
So our argument wasn’t much of an argument; I simply wanted him to understand how much I care about military spouses and understand that our employment mountain takes years to climb. It takes a toll on our identity when we see our peers landing great jobs that fulfill their passion and purpose, all while balancing home life as rock star moms, outdoor adventurers, volunteers, and the typical military “family vacations”. Maybe yours is like ours? Our family vacations consist of travelling across country to visit family…YAY (it’s often not as refreshing as a vacation ought to be).
I know we see a lot through the social media lens; we see the highlights those non-military families lead which leave us feeling like we’re missing out. We too have highlights that our non-military peers see as amazing like homecomings, which I deem are equivalent to a wedding day and birth, all painful leading up to it, but the final day makes it all worth it!
Back to the employment mountain… though steep, it is possible to conquer, but we must keep one thing in mind, always. The life we lead is not the standard.
We have to stop putting ourselves in a box and comparing ourselves to those who lead a “standard” life. It goes back to embracing the life you are living and creating something out of it. It may not be what you always envisioned for yourself, but that is truly the best part. You learn more about yourself when you step outside of your comfort zone. You begin to live.
Here’s a few tips to help you climb your mountain.
I know you’ve heard it before and there is a reason why you have: it works and people like givers. Volunteering helps put skills on your resume with amazing flexibility. Above all, the purpose and intention alone is the most rewarding.
I cannot stress this enough. Get out of your house and engage with people. Ever hear the phrase “It’s all who you know?” It’s true. As a Human Resources graduate and manager at USMC Life, I would much rather have a peer recommend someone to me, than go through an entire process of building a candidate pool for USMC Life. My network is vast and credible.
Attitude: This is the big one.
If you want to be successful with any endeavor in life, be it parenting, social, marriage, or work; you have to be positive. Your attitude determines how your day is. Sure your employment situation stinks and maybe it’s not where you want it to be, but that doesn’t mean it will always be like that. Shift your attitude and get a handle on yourself. Stop coming up with reasons why you aren’t ‘enough’ and believe in yourself and how you are enough. Fake it if you have to.
Finally, my little public service announcement for the day.
Social Media: Get your junk off the web
If you don’t think a manager at Office Depot doesn’t Facebook stalk applicants, you’re wrong. Let me also add that if you don’t think landlords do either, you’re also wrong. What better way to see who you are and how you represent yourself, than to check you out and see what you ‘like’ and what groups you’re a member of. If you want to be respected and hired, your image must be fitting to how you would like to be revered.
Start shaping out what you want to do and start chipping away at it. The time is going to pass anyway. In the end it still may not be what you originally envisioned, but your aim will lead you to a better place than where you are now.
What obstacles have you faced? Any tips you’d like to share?