For military spouses, careers are likely non-existent, but that doesn’t mean that looking for job opportunities is completely unheard of. We may want a job to make use of all the schooling we may have. We may want a job to keep busy and keep sane while our husbands are deployed. Or we may want a job as a way to maintain our self-identity in our marriage while often feeling like second fiddle to the Air Force. Whatever the reasons may be, we spouses have so much to offer the working world that more than justify a decision to hire us.
Military marriages require adaptability because with each new assignment comes ALOT of “new”. New places, new bases, new homes, new squadrons, and new friends. Basically NEW EVERYTHING which often means starting from scratch. Being adaptable allows us and our families to jump into any situation making the best of it. This is important to any employer because no matter the job and no matter the circumstances, things are always changing. They want to be confident that their employees will flourish with whatever changes come their way and we are more than fit to deliver.
2. Time Management
Time management is key to making any family work. I can barely keep my head above water and I only have to worry about myself, Nikko, and our dog, Walter. I can’t imagine adding kids to the equation but eventually, that will be our life. Just thinking about it gets me overwhelmed. Balancing two work schedules (maybe just one at that point), a dog, and the kids’ various schedules sounds absolutely daunting but the thought gets even scarier when I think about my husband being deployed and having to do it ALL by myself. I have the utmost respect for these women and the way that they manage their time…and so should employers. This is a skill that military spouses may not recognize they have because it’s just something they do every day. Despite this, it should not be overlooked but admired.
Despite the technical term for spouses being “dependents,” military spouses are nothing but. Our husbands often get the occasional “Thank you for your service.” from a kind stranger when we are out and about, but I wish sometimes they would recognize us as spouses as well. While our husbands are deployed, we keep the homestead operating under not-so-normal conditions. In doing so, we keep distractions to a minimum allowing them to focus solely on their jobs abroad. I’ve never heard of a task requiring more independence than that.
4. Diverse experiences
Finally, having experienced living in so many new places, having made so many new friends and having been surrounded with so many new circumstances, we will have collected so many diverse life experiences. These experiences make us a “goldmine” for employers to tap into bringing new ideas and new perspectives to the workplace. Many modern employers have begun to see the many benefits of diversity with some even considering diversifying their workforce as a key goal for the overall organization. As military spouses, we can add so much value to the workplace by sharing our many experiences and what we have learned from them.
Though there are many reasons in favor of us, there are also reasons that may make employers apprehensive about sending over an offer. The first and foremost reason that may not work in our favor is the ever present chance of moving at a moment’s notice. Employers know that this is a risk they take with hiring military spouses – an expected stay of three to five years AT BEST. This leaves the company barely enough time to develop someone to their potential and use their talents to better the company overall. It also raises the question of whether or not taking the time to onboard and train the new employee is worth the investment in the case of a military spouse. Will the company’s investments in their military spouse employee pay off in the short time that the they are working for the company?
Another reason why an employer may be apprehensive about hiring a military spouse (specifically wives) is the impending possibility that she may get pregnant during her time as an employee. If you do the math keeping the “worst case scenario” in mind, maternity leave can take up a good portion of total time employed making it a loss for the employer especially if the employee is paid while on maternity leave. Of course choosing not to hire for this reason is illegal due to equal opportunity laws but make sure that any potential employers understand that family life comes first and that work-life balance is a must.
If you do get the job, be confident in all of the skills that you have acquired as a military spouse. Know that you are more than equipped for the position because you are already doing the hardest job in the world. Even if you can only stay in the role for a few years, prove your worth in your short stay. Don’t just be present day-to-day. Make sure your contributions justify their hiring decision. And most importantly, we are all proud to be military spouses, but try not to let that define you in the workplace. It is YOUR time and place to be “first-fiddle” so let your personality and talents shine as YOU, and not “so and so’s spouse.”