Why hello there, mil spouse! It’s a new year, which can be a plethora of new things for you! Perhaps, this is a PCS or moving year, or it’s the beginning, or continuation of, a deployment, or it’s the year your spouse might be getting out of the service. Regardless, a new year always brings about new adventures for us, doesn’t it? And we could spend an entire day and night talking about where the military takes us, couldn’t we? But alas, I won’t do that. I want to continue our discussion from last time, where we discussed the weariness of being a military spouse, the crazy sacrifices we always make to support our partner who is serving these here United States. From the feedback I received, most of you were able to relate to the pressure, and frustration, of having to go through the job search process over and over again, when it seems our non-military affiliated peers easily skip that pain-staking process after a while.
It doesn’t get any easier as with age, experience, or educational background. The gaps in employment, the relatively high number of job experiences listed in such a short time frame, and the seemingly random selection of industries worked in doesn’t do much for marketing ourselves as the chance our next prospective employer might take on us. The topic of rejection is a sensitive one, and although we might experience it time and again, that too is not an easy sting to feel as we navigate these ever torrential job-search waters. Looking for work sucks, and getting those all too frequent rejection emails or phone calls doesn’t really make the effort worth it sometimes. It doesn’t matter what you know you can do, the minute most employers see or hear “military spouse,” they often run for the hills. Who wants to invest their time training and developing a new employee when that employee is going to leave the organization in a few short years. Doesn’t make much sense.
In the past few months, I have heard the word “no” so much that really it should just be part of my name by now. Rejection is common when applying for work, even in the civilian sector. Most of the time, employers, when they post a job opening may not really have an actual opening, but just want to fish out potential candidates so that when one becomes open, they already have a solid pool of candidates from which to choose. Rejection hits you to the core; makes you question your potential, your abilities, your worth. It can lead to frustration and resentment. Your job is to not let it.
But it stings nonetheless. I know. Today, I received two rejection emails, one from an organization for which I worked for two years! And they are a supposedly “military spouse friendly” employer. Ha! Either way, here are a few ways we can deal when we read that dreaded “thank you for your interest, but…” email with a level head.
- Follow up. When you can, of course, it doesn’t hurt to follow up. Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or whomever interviewed you, or to whom you applied, why you were not chosen for the position. You might get an answer, and you might end up at a dead end. But understand that any guidance you receive can be a saving grace for the next employer who gets to scoop your talented butt up!
- Reach out for help. As a military spouse, we have access to a ton of resources to help us better prepare for the job search process, and to dust ourselves off when we are swinging hard and hitting nothing. Sources like your local ACS (Army Community Service), or comparable, office, Military One Source, and Hire Heroes, USA provide education, resume building assistance, interview prep, networking workshops, and job counseling free of charge! This is a valuable edge that we spouses get for free. Our civilian friends often have to pay big bucks for help like this. So use it!
- Find out who is military friendly. Certain organizations get big props, and even funds, for agreeing to set aside a certain number of jobs for military spouses. Government agencies and on-post/base organizations often have a military spouse preference you can use to help secure a good job that will often travel with you as you move about.
- Use this time to brush up on your skills, or to learn new ones. I like to think of rejections as God’s way of saying that this position is not for you! Something better will come along soon! In the time you are applying and waiting, and waiting, use that time to brush up on your skills by volunteering which is also precious butter for filling in those employment gaps. Also, long line of rejections might signal for a possible career change. If your spouse is of a certain rank or lower, you can qualify for tuition scholarships to aid in returning to school with the hopes of starting a new career. Doing research in attaining different certifications might be a easier road if you don’t want to, or can’t, invest the time necessary to go back to school full-time. Sometimes, all it takes is a certain certification or training that most employees look for that turns a no into a yes.
- Remember that YOU ARE AWESOME! And you are worthy. Yours might not be the typical, or even chosen, path, but it’s a path few dare travel. So you are a unique entity. A rarity to be treasured and admired. Keep your head up. If that company or organization couldn’t see your worth, it’s their loss, not yours. You are a mil spouse. That means you are dependable, reliable, resilient, and strong. You have the uncanny ability to multi-task, balance an array of different schedules and responsibilities, and arrange entire lives for more than one person at a single time. You have experience and range, perseverance and dedication. You are an expert at preparing for and orchestrating cross country moves for an entire family in sometimes less than one month! These are skills that even the most accomplished, most educated person cannot say they’ve gotten just by lifestyle alone. People have had to study or work for years to honestly say they have come by all these traits. You have them just by being you, you warrior! Find a unique way to market these skills in your resume and to boost yourself in your next job interview. You have what it takes to be more than just somebody’s wife. So go out there and change the world!
What do you do when you feel rejected? What tips or tricks have you learned or do you employ when re-upping that resume and sending it out to the lucky recruiters who are privileged get to know all about the amazing you? Share them in the comments!
Write, and Persist, On!