There’s no way around it: Transitioning is hard. Whether you’ve been a mil spouse for a year or an entire career, it can be challenging to begin to embrace the civilian sector. After all, the military is probably all that you and your service member know, and the road ahead is going to be challenging.
But challenging doesn’t have to mean impossible. After all, you’re a mil spouse – so that means you’re already well equipped to handle the pressures of a continually changing environment, new surroundings, making new friends and tapping into new communities. Your service member has one of the most significant assets on his/her side – you!
Lead by Example
If your service member is transitioning out, you should start your own employment search too. Your spouse already has a lot on his/her plate with exiting the military so these steps can be done by both of you.
Getting really clear on whether or not you want to (or need to) work full or part-time will help you begin to focus your search. Looking for a civilian job is a world away from enlisting or commissioning so it can be something that you and your service member do together.
Make sure your online profiles are up to date and professional. Remember that your social media impact might be looked at before a company decides to hire you. Think about what kind of image you want to project and make sure it’s replicated on all of your pages. If you’re advertising yourself as a reliable and competent employee, you probably don’t want any unsavory pictures floating around the internet.
Once your email and resume are ready, reach out to your pre-military connections. Email old bosses, colleagues, professors, classmates – anyone who might know of jobs available or who might help you make connections that can land interviews.
Be frank and candid in these emails – explain the service transition and be open about what you’re looking for in your job search. Leveraging your network also means putting in a good word for your spouse. Your network might not have any opportunities for you, but there might be something for your service member.
There should be a bit of fun in this transition! After all, it’s the first time in your marriage that the military isn’t telling you where to move. That means the world is literally yours. It’s liberating to have the ability to decide where to root your family. Embrace the limitless possibilities of where you and your family want to live. Planning a happy future together in the civilian sector can be revitalizing and energizing for your marriage. Make the most of it.
When it’s time to transition out of the military, remember it’s not just your spouse who is facing a massive life change. Make sure that you take care of yourself in this process as well, because a team is only as strong as the weakest link. Rely on your pre-military networks, but don’t forget to continue to cultivate the fantastic relationships you’ve developed as a mil spouse. It’s a vast network of dedicated spouses who are willing to go the extra step to support their own. Make the most of it.