Military Spouses and Career Challenges

by | Career Strategy, Job Search

When it comes to being a military spouse, the challenge of employment is real. You might ask yourself—how in the world do I maintain full‑time employment as a military spouse with an active-duty husband, wife, or partner?

That’s a valid question for any military spouse. Imagine having to plan for yet another move to a different state, or overseas, then begin searching for another job. Then you have to play the waiting game to hear back from Human Resources on whether you made the final cut to land the interview.

In the meanwhile, you question if it’s even feasible to have a career if you have to move so often and transition to a new position with every move.

You may wonder if you will be judged for short stints here and there at jobs you’ve held in the past leaving gaps in time. On the other hand, you may wonder if you’ll be judged if you decide to take time off to stay home and raise children alone while your spouse is deployed—another gap in employment.

These are all valid questions and concerns. So, what are we military spouses to do?

The best “rule of thumb” if you’re a military spouse…

The best rule of thumb is to be honest and transparent when it comes to your resume, in your phone screens with recruiters, and during interviews with hiring managers. Despite possible feelings of intimidation when faced with job transition challenges, hiring managers value seeing all employment history, and perhaps those side gigs while juggling being a homemaker and parent.

MAGNETIC TIP: When there is a gap in employment as a military spouse, sometimes a simple one-liner explaining the circumstances will suffice at the resume level. These gaps are most likely not only explainable, but justifiable periods of time where you are using a multitude of skills and knowledge.

You might even be studying various topics and taking training, or in college. There are strategic ways to convey your value—even with career gaps so don’t let this stop you from applying to your dream job or navigating your way to it.

So many resources available!

There are beneficial employment resources that can be helpful in job searching and landing your next role and we would love to be your go-to resource for your career marketing and coaching. We help you create the most successful strategic federal and corporate resumes, nail your interview so you can land the job offer, and negoatiate the salary you deserve…as well as develop the confidence to take your career to the next level.

If you are ready to attract the right-fit job and career, let me recommend the “Magnetize Your Federal Resume” online course and community created by Camille Roberts and Cris Andersen. They are trusted advisors with 30+ years of front-line, in the trenches expertise in this arena and have helped tens of thousands of people land federal jobs and promotions. In the military services module, and during the monthly member calls, they help address a plethora of strategies to help you overcome not only the gaps, but other circumstances.

I highly recommend you start with this free workshop.

USAJOBS is an amazing resource for military spouses looking for eligible jobs within the federal government. Be sure to go to Saved Searches and set those up so you can be alerted of jobs that fit the criteria you set.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership Career Center is targeted for military spouse employment solutions and is another great resource.



Have a heart‑to‑heart.

You may consider having a heart‑to‑heart and ask yourself what it is you would really like to do next in your career. No one wants to be in a career field they dislike or are just not good at. No one wants to settle for a career either. When you do, you will most likely be unhappy.

Instead, think about what is next for you—logically and strategically. Some considerations during your personal strategizing session could be setting a goal to seek out agencies or companies that advocate for work/life balance—or remotely, which is now the norm in the workplace at federal agencies and corporations.

As we have learned through COVID, companies and agencies alike benefit from remote work and it is a “must have” flexibility from a family dynamic perspective. You might consider working for a veteran‑owned company as it may make you feel like you are giving back to the military community.

Whether you are looking for part-time or full-time employment, and are experiencing difficulties in your search, you could always consider volunteering opportunities. Never underestimate the power of volunteer service even if it is unpaid—it is still valuable and resume worthy and could count toward experience and boost your resume score. 

Where to start?

You might wonder, where would I even begin searching for volunteering opportunities? Some suggestions include:

  • Search the Internet for volunteer opportunities within your immediate area starting with your local community, or your city, county, or state government website.
  • Does the federal agency you want to work for have volunteer opportunities, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency?
  • Call, email, or walk into your local USO and inquire.
  • Research community events that surround home builds for veterans in need.
  • Get outside and volunteer at a fundraising event for a 5K or 10K. Some of my favorites are the 9/11 Heroes Run and the Joggin’ for Frogmen 5K series—both benefiting the Travis Manion Foundation.
  • The 9/11 Heroes Run honors our fallen heroes for their sacrifices made on September 11, 2001. The Joggin’ for Frogmen 5K series supports families and sacrifices of the fallen within the Naval Special Warfare community. If you are interested in nearby events like this that unite your community, check out the Travis Manion Foundation.

Facing the obstacles as a military spouse.

Traditional careers that have required employees to be in an office have proven to be difficult for the many obstacles military spouses face. For the military spouse community, obtaining a valuable job and a flexible one that offers a work-from-home structure can make all the difference.

A Deloitte study notes that nearly 24% of military spouses are unemployed while 31–51% face underemployment.

Despite many military families needing two stable incomes to keep their household afloat, it is increasingly difficult for a military spouse to find, let alone maintain, a job in their area of interest or expertise.

The upside to this, in an optimistic sense, is that military spouses can be exposed to something new that they would not have necessarily given thought to in a past career field. Nonetheless, the Department of Defense continues to address the importance for military spouses to get the help they need in finding their next employment opportunity.



How can you work from home as a military spouse?

It is important to do your research on this because not all remote jobs will be what you are looking for or what you expect them to be. If you have children, you will still likely need to arrange for childcare while you work as to avoid distraction during working hours.

Agencies and companies still have performance expectations of you and this does not change just because you are working from home versus working at the corporate office. Some notable companies that may offer remote roles that have respectable military spouse programs established are Humana and Amazon.

There are numerous federal agencies who offer remote work. When you set up your Saved Searches criteria on USAJOBS, be sure to add “remote work” as part of the criteria if you are looking for remote work.

Still on the fence about your career?

If you are still on the fence about what you should do career wise as a military spouse, that is completely understandable—there is much to think about! I was reminded by a fellow military spouse: remember that you are your best advocate.

You can also lean in on a career coach here at CC Career Solutions who can help with career coaching to ensure a right-fit…so you don’t waste years and years in a dead-end or unfulfilling career. We have several career assessments and a proprietary method of ensuring that you will be applying for the right-fit job. We will also help you navigate resume writing, job searching, interviewing, negotiating your salary and benefits, and truly landing the job of your dreams!

We’d love to work with you!

Schedule a complimentary chat with us so we can help you shave months and years off your job search and landing your dream job…faster!

Brittany Gilb
Latest posts by Brittany Gilb (see all)

Get Proven Interview-Landing Career Strategies in Your Inbox