The Army Life Journey, Uncategorized

We are the Hands and Feet: The MilSpouse and Job Hunting Blues

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Milspousing (military spouse-ing) ain’t easy.  And while we might have been excited about joining this lifestyle, it’s unfair to say that we knew what was coming down the pike.  We. Did. Not.  Now, I wrote a blurb about the challenges military spouses face.  But today, I want to specifically discuss how gosh dern difficult it is to find and keep a good job when active duty.  Many of us, as a result of moving around so often, either have large gaps in our employment history, or have so much employment history that is often randomized that it makes potential employers wary.  It used to be that telling potential employers that you had kids was taboo, and in some situations it still is, but exposing that you are a military spouse??!!!  That’s downright suicide!

It seems to be that being a military spouse is itself a strike against you.  Why?  Because there’s an uncertainty about your role.  How long are you going to be living where you are living now?  How much time will you truly have to dedicate to a job?  Heck, even the “mil spouse friendly” employers sometimes shy away from a potential employee because they too are scared of the uncertainty.  What these employers fail to realize is that military spouses are the most resilient, most dedicated and faithful people in the world.  We adjust readily and easily to change and can adapt in a variety of new and unique situations.  We are organized and have learned how to budget our finances efficiently.  And we develop unique social skills associated with moving so often; it can be said we have friends all over the world, and that exposure to different cultures and traditions have enabled us to see things from new and different perspectives than most of our civilian friends.  Furthermore, military spouses are self-starters, can work independently, and have to be up to date on the latest technology so they can stay in touch with loved ones half a world away.  Call me crazy, but aren’t these the very same qualities most employers say they are seeking in an employee?

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But oh the uncertainty!  I know plenty of military spouses, myself included, who have tried for months and months to get a job.  Many of us are forced into a position for which we are overqualified because of that uncertainty on our end.  Most of us have had to abandon our career fields all together because it is too much of a hassle to transfer clients or licenses to different states, or countries.  Most employers in different countries, or near different countries won’t hire American spouses because of the language barrier.  And with these barriers come the frustration.  There’s a restlessness that happens, a hopelessness almost because there is a sense of lost identity.  We were ready to jump feet first into this life, but we weren’t prepared for this.  No one told us this would be our reality.

But don’t you worry child.  See, heaven’s got a plan for you yet!  There’s a saying that goes “when one door closes, another door opens.”  And it’s very true in the life of a military spouse.  I have spent so much time, just in these last few months alone, trying to create a normal life for myself.  You know, find a 9-5 job with holiday leave and personal time off.  In my mind, this would allow me to create t he type of life for my family that I experienced as a child.  Two adults in the household who work.  A duel income family equals the ability to do all sorts of fun things, don’t you know.  And how I’ve missed being able to go out and buy clothes when I want to.  It’s challenging when a plan doesn’t go as desired.  Job hunting can leave you feeling worthless and angry, if you let it.  I was convinced that being here in the nation’s capital and having the education and experience I had would be more than enough to get my foot in the door somewhere.  But it’s turned out that I can’t even get into a job that I was held years ago, a job for an organization that is supposedly military spouse-friendly, a job that I am grossly overqualified for and as a result, was my fail-safe. It put me in a dark place.  And I worried about finances and the pressure it might start putting on my husband to once again take on the burden of supporting a family of five.  I put worries in my head that were based on what-if scenarios, creating elaborate situations that could happen because I wasn’t working.  I was too busy worrying to see that God was too busy working.

So when doors close, and when rejection comes flying at you full-force, it’s important to know that those no’s are often His way of steering you away from something that’s just not good for you.  And when those no’s become more frequent, perhaps it’s His way of forcing you to be a little more creative with your skills.  Many military spouses find that this unconventional lifestyle allows them the creative freedom to start their own businesses, or work in an unconventional job.  Many of us go back to school to learn a new trade, one that will travel with us as we move about the country.  Some of us put on our creative pants and try our hands at blogging, writing, or art.  The inability to secure a job that is more traditional makes us have to find other ways to earn an income.  It’s too bad that potential employers can’t overlook the uncertainty to see the vast amount of creative talent they have excluded from contention over the years.  It’s really their own loss.

Taking a leap of faith and doing something nontraditional, something new and different is scary because two things can happen when you leap; you can either soar, or you can either fall.  And most of the time, we fall because well gravity, and also from those falls, or failures, come the greatest, and sweetest of successes.  We come into our own after all the no’s.  The fact is that you can’t do something.  You are full of wonderful, beautiful promise, and you don’t need a 9-5 to prove that.

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