Two women high fiving across a desk

Military spouses can agree to the fact that once they married a service member, their careers were affected in a tremendous way. In addition, many of us are not always capable of staying in our respected fields due to the expense and process of getting licensed over and over again across state lines. Another important aspect of hardship in our careers are the locations in which our spouses are stationed. Many military bases are located in remote locations that do not always offer the job opportunities that exist in more metropolitan areas. 

It is not a hopeless feat though keeping your skills up to par, your resume current, and your career afloat during military life. The journey in your career will not be as linear as it may have been pre-military life, but there are several ways you can continue building your career despite military life. 

Here are ten strategies that have been helpful to me on my career journey during military life. My hope is that they may work for you as well.

  1. Work part-time – It isn’t always possible for military spouses, especially those with children, to work full time and be the primary caregiver of the family. However, working part time can still help retain the skills you have, build new ones, and limit resume gaps.
  2. Consider contract or freelance work – Do not underestimate the power of freelance work. Becoming a freelancer allows you the freedom to work on as many or as few contracts as you desire and the work is typically done remotely. It also helps you get your foot in the door to many different companies, who may, in time, offer you a more permanent position. 
  3. Start your own business – Do you have a special skill or a product to sell? Maybe it is time to start your own business. With organizations like AMSE and The United States Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce, resources are available to help you get started and learn the path of taking your idea and turning it into a business.
  4. Volunteer – Find a cause you are passionate about, volunteer your skills for an organization, or learn new skills in a volunteer position. The options are endless and volunteering is a win-win for everyone. Volunteering can eliminate gaps on your resume and help you network too. 
  5. Utilize LinkedIn – LinkedIn has the potential to help you make major gains in your career, simply by connecting with the right people. In addition, military spouses can get LinkedIn Premium for free through the MySECO (Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program). 
  6. Limit resume gaps – I know this is easier said than done, but it can save your career. Whether you are working part time, freelancing, have started your own business, or simply volunteering in the current season of your life, all of these things can fill the gaps on your resume.
  7. Focus on your education – Another way to help advance your career is by focusing on your education. If you aren’t ready to fully commit to a degree program, look towards shorter term ways to up your skills. Community Colleges around the nation offer short term certificates that are both affordable and achievable. In addition, there are numerous scholarships available for military spouses at many stages in their educational journey. 
  8. Join Facebook groups – Many Facebook groups for military spouses offer ways to not only network, but also to learn about job opportunities. A few of my favorites are: Virtforce, Virtual HOH Military Spouse Professional Network, Hiring our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network, Milspouse Creative + Entrepreneurs with Moni Jefferson, Military Spouse Professional Networking, Military Spouses with Advanced Degrees, AMSE Alliance, and so many more.
  9. Look to military spouse owned businesses – Many military spouse owned businesses are always looking to hire within the community. This could be a great opportunity to use your skills or learn new ones while you’re in between jobs. 
  10. Reach out for help – Do not be afraid to seek help from the experts at Hire Heroes USA, SECO, Hiring Our Heroes, and the USO. All have programs to help with resume writing, LinkedIn, interview skills, and so much more. 

It can feel like a hopeless uphill climb trying to keep your career afloat once you become a military spouse. I am here to tell you that it is not a lost cause. If you keep resume gaps to a minimum, keep your skills up to par by working part-time or focusing on your education, and find the value in volunteering, you will keep your career from sinking. 

© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2021.