I’ll give you the bad news first: The unemployment rate is at nearly 15%, and military spouses typically have higher unemployment rates even in a stable economy (six times the national average, according to The Atlantic).
But here’s the good news: Almost all companies are remote right now, and many of them are staying that way (Twitter and Nationwide, for example, announced that they will be allowing their employees to work remotely permanently). For military spouses, remote jobs are the holy grail that allows them to stay with one company through several moves.
I was a military spouse for ten years, and I went through my share of job frustrations. Throughout my career, I’ve also hired people, consulted on resumes and cover letters, strategized for job platforms, and counseled friends and colleagues looking for new jobs. Here are ten tips I’ve learned for increasing your chances of finding your dream job soon.
1. Prepare for an economic rebound.
It might come fast, or it might come slow. But an economic rebound is inevitable. Much of the downsizing companies have been doing is temporary. While they might invite back former employees first, many of those employees will have already found jobs elsewhere, which means these companies will be considering new talent. Be patient, and don’t get discouraged.
2. Contact your former employers.
If you’ve had to give up jobs in the past when you moved, it’s very likely these companies will now consider remote employees. Reach out to former employers and see if they have any openings.
3. Build relationships early.
Figure out which companies you would love to work for. Connect with them on social media or by email. Do your research about the work they’re doing and the people they typically hire. Do virtual “informational interviews.” Now is the time to start building relationships with your dream company. Many of the people companies hire will be the ones on the “bench,” who they have already vetted and know they’re interested in. When they are in a financial position to hire, they will turn first to those they know. Also consider part-time work, which can often develop into full-time offers.
4. Revamp your LinkedIn page and your resume.
Start building your LinkedIn networks, and post regularly (about once a week). Engage with other people’s posts on LinkedIn. Make sure your resume is updated with your most current experience and hire someone to help you if you’re not sure how to do it.
5. Let your network know you’re looking.
Use your military networks! This is an advantage you have that others don’t. Ask your spouse to help you spread the word with their unit. Make a list of people you know and where they’re working. Put out the word on social media. Join your alumni network. Talk to your family, friends, and former colleagues. You don’t have to ask for a job outright, but you can let people know you are in the job search.
6. Look ahead to your next base.
Are you moving in the next few months? Start your job search now. Don’t wait until you get there. Figure out which companies are based on that area and start contacting them. You don’t have to be responding to a job ad to contact them and let them know you are interested in future opportunities.
7. Look for veteran-owned businesses.
It’s a fact: Veterans businesses hire more veterans, and their spouses, than non-veteran businesses. Also, look for companies that have veteran or military hiring programs; they might not specifically mention military spouses in their job descriptions, but they will likely be more open to spouses.
8. Consider educational opportunities.
Now is the best time to build your credentials. Start that masters program you’ve always wanted to do. Get additional certifications for your career. Consider eLearning platforms. Take advantage of educational opportunities now to boost your resume and your chance of success.
9. Train for a new career.
It’s a great time to think about a career switch if this is something you’ve considered in the past. What is your dream career? Maybe you’ve always wanted to go to nursing school, or you’ve only worked corporate jobs but dream of working for a startup. Figure out what credentials you’ll need, what positions are available given your background, or who you already know in that industry.
10. Don’t get burned out by the job search.
It can be stressful to be out of work if your family relies on a dual income, but don’t overwhelm yourself with submitting applications and rereading your cover letter hundreds of times. Take breaks often when you’re working on your job search. Make sure to get outside. Be patient, and good things will come.