The military spouse job search can really be a struggle, and the struggle is real.
A job search after a permanent change of station (PCS) can be thrilling in the beginning. The thought of a new start with new people can be enough motivation to jumpstart your search. Then, slowly, as opportunities pass and the calls from potential employers become fewer — or worse, there are no phone calls at all — the motivation to find a new job starts to dwindle. You may start to feel like a balloon slowly leaking air…pfffffttt.
But, like all things military-related, there’s an acronym to get you through it. If you currently have a white-knuckle grip on your pre-PCS resignation letter or you’re on the verge of a toddler-level tantrum because you just don’t want to job search anymore, remember to remain STRONG!
S is for Schedule
Create a daily schedule and stick to it. It’s easy to start looking at job boards and lose track of time. Looking at job boards for hours on end gets overwhelming and somewhat depressing if you aren’t seeing anything in your career field. Set aside an hour in the morning and an hour later in the day to just search. Set an alarm to let you know when time’s up.
If you find a job of interest, set aside an hour or two to tailor your resume to that job. If you don’t find a job you want to apply for, use that time to read an article that will keep you current in your field or sharpen your interviewing skills, take a class (military installations offer free classes specifically to help with job searching), or research local networking opportunities.
Be sure to also schedule some time for yourself (read, exercise, watch a trashy TV show), even if it’s only 30 minutes. Of course, if you are working while searching for a new job, this schedule will have to flex to fit into your windows of available time.
Having a schedule creates consistency and breaks down your daily tasks in a way that ultimately focuses on obtaining a job.
T is for Tribe
Don’t get caught up with people who only focus on what is wrong or hard. Instead, find people who are positive, supportive, and can help propel you forward in your job search. Then, make time in your schedule for some quality tribe time! The military spouse job search is easier when you aren’t trying to do it alone and you have friends who help you escape from the stress while keeping you motivated!
R is for Revise and Review
The resume’s job is to get you an interview, and a good interview will likely lead to a job offer. So, if you aren’t getting responses from the resumes you send out, it might be time to revise your resume.
Every job will have a specific set of qualifications, and rarely will two job listings require the same skills. Therefore, you should not be sending out the same resume each time you apply for a job.
After you have revised your resume, have another set of eyes take a look at it. This can be scary because nobody enjoys being critiqued, but you want to send your absolute best resume to a potential employer. Let your tribe help or tap into the free resume assistance on your installation.
O is for Organize
Find a system to help you remember which jobs you applied for, the date you applied, where you found the job, and the response you received from the employer. Find what works best for you — maybe a spreadsheet, maybe a journal. Just don’t be the person who applies for the same job listing twice — that screams “lack of organizational skills” and “no attention to detail.”
Keeping your potential jobs in one place can also be a good reminder that jobs of interest in your community do exist!
N is for Network
This is probably the most important step toward sustaining your motivation. You may have heard, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” By putting yourself out there (LinkedIn, Hiring Our Heroes spouse networking chapters, local events, etc.), meeting new people, and telling people the type of opportunity you are looking for, you are casting a bigger net of allies that can help you catch a job.
Be sure to follow up and stay in touch with people who have job leads or who may be able to assist you down the road.
G is for Goals
Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals will help you stay on the track toward employment. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment each time you meet daily, weekly, and monthly goals, which ultimately keeps the positive outlook alive!
Put the S-T-R-O-N-G together, and you’re on your way to fighting off that discouraged, deflated phase of the military spouse job search and you’ll be ready to welcome new opportunities.
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