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Archive for the ‘Military Spouse Career’ Category

Julie Steed’s Interview: Create a Resume That Works

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by military spouse and freelance writer, Julie Steed, for an article geared toward the working military spouse and how to effectively update and keep the résumé current and ready for when opportunity knocks! Great article Julie!

(Click image for access to full article)

Julie Steed's Interview with Christine 2013_Page_1

Julie Steed's Interview with Christine 2013_Page_2

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Military Spouses – It’s Network, Or Not Work

Please check out Christine’s latest publication in Military Spouse Magazine’s March 2012 issue!

(Click on the image for the full PDF version)

Courtesy of Military Spouse Magazine

Courtesy of Military Spouse Magazine

Colorado Springs Gazette Features Résumés Right Away!

Many thanks to the Colorado Springs Gazette and reporter Erin Prater for her comprehensive cover story on Christine and Résumés Right Away!

We hope that you enjoy the read and we welcome your comments.  Lastly, there are a few points in the article I want to clarify.

I frequently work with and consult Soldiers and Airmen in Colorado Springs.  Many of them have experience with deployed and combat operations.  Those with combat experience contend with many complex variables in that environment, but they bring a strength, sense of teamwork, and focus that are unparalleled in the civilian environment.  When I meet with Soldiers that express concerns about their roles in, and perceptions of combat, we remain sensitive to the gravity of their experience while focusing on the positive, constructive lessons and applications of  combat. This approach is meant to instill confidence during the transition from military to civilian life.

In the example shared in the article, the Soldier I spoke with expressed concern that combat operations were his primary responsibility. We worked through the process to glean information about teambuilding, goal-setting, and mission readiness – all skills that are VERY transferable to and extremely valuable in the civilian workforce.

“Christine launched Résumés Right Away, which offers custom résumés and services to transitioning military members and small-business owners.”

Yes, we in fact provide career services to transitioning military members, but we also provide services to military spouses and professional, civilian job seekers.  We also partner with and provide business services and workshops for small businesses.

Click on the image below for access to the full article or click HERE.

Challenges of the Military Spouse Professional

Most military spouse professionals face unique challenges when working to sustain their professional careers, as the ability to work is altered by the transient nature of the military lifestyle.  I’ve compiled a few questions and answers from various interviews and dialogue with fellow military spouse professionals to assist others who may have similar questions relating to their own career challenges.

“I’m a recent Criminal Justice graduate.  I went through the Military Spouse Preference registration on base, have been job searching in the local surrounding communities, and I am still having a very difficult time finding work!”

Continue to network!  Join clubs, the Chamber may have a Rising Professionals group that’s pretty inexpensive to join, volunteer within your field. It’s all about who you know, so connect with more people and your chances will increase!  Pick up this book on base if it’s there: What Color Is My Parachute 2012 Edition. This book rocks! You’ll learn so much and it’s a fun and easy read. Mr. Bolles sure knows how to tell it how it is.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Make an appointment with a Spouse Employment Coordinator at your local military family center.  Request to be placed on their employment distribution list so that you can be notified of job vacancies, career-related classes, and hiring events geared toward military families.

Use your student Career Services department.  Most colleges and universities have free services available to assist graduates with career planning and developing job and internship search strategies.  If your school has an alumni program, I highly recommend joining, as your alumni network is a valuable tool for networking, asking questions, and getting some exposure.

Seek volunteer opportunities.  Keep your resume current by volunteering in a field related to your degree program.  Reflect on what you want to do with that degree.  Remember that professional volunteer work IS considered WORK and should not be discounted when marketing yourself to potential employers – focus on the tangibles you have to offer (inherent abilities and technical competencies) and your professional accomplishments, paid or not.

Join LinkedIn Networking Groups.  Start with your alumni group!  Alumni tend to want to help others from their alma mater.  Then start searching for industries and companies of interest.  Ask questions and answer questions.  This is your chance to demonstrate your subject matter expertise as well as understand what is going on within those industries.  Ensure your LinkedIn profile is clean, creative, and professional.  Avoid listing “Military Spouse” as a professional position!

“What do you think are some of the best traits of military spouse professionals (and military spouses in general)?”

In my experience, not only as a military spouse, but as a hiring manager and a recruiter working within a military community, I have found that MOST military spouse job candidates communicate and follow up very well, are tech savvy, demonstrate proven adaptability and resilience, respect structure and guidelines, and are efficient and effective under pressure/duress.  Military spouses are placed in positions where we are forced to adapt and MAKE things work for the family so the military member can focus on his/her job, providing for his/her country.  We do the same for private industry employers – make their job easier so they can focus on the corporate mission. It eventually comes natural to the military spouse.

Here are some stats I pulled from a 2009 survey: 84% of military spouses have some college education, 77% are career-driven, and 25% have at least a four-year degree.

Milspouses are forced into cultural immersion – corporate, family, deployment, PCS moves, etc.  We ‘train’ to successfully adapt.

“My husband is undergoing a PCS move this fall.  What do you tell an employer when they ask why you are relocating?  I don’t feel comfortable mentioning I’m married and saying I moved for his job.  I work for a leading company in my field and wouldn’t be able to get an equivalent job, so it’s not like I can claim I’m moving to advance my career.  Your thoughts?”

This is always a tough one.  I typically advise the employer that my spouse’s employer moved us.  If they ask what he does, I tell them “communications”, which is true.  As a hiring manager, I used to ask this question frequently as it was an integral part of the interview process.  If the employer continues to focus on the reasons you are relocating instead of the value your experience and skills can bring to the position, then you may want to reconsider your candidacy.  Employers ask this question to gauge risk, especially if they are looking to fill the position with someone for at least five years.  This actually happened to me.  The hiring manager indicated that she wanted to fill the position with someone for at least three years. Well, we all know how the military works and nothing is definite EVEN IF orders indicate a time frame on the assignment, it could be extended or cut short at any time.  Yes, PCS orders came about a year and a half into my acceptance of the position, but I walked away leaving them with brand new solutions, new avenues of business, and a record low employee turnover within the department.  Not too shabby.

Many spouse professionals suggest being straightforward with the employer, HOWEVER, if I had been 100% honest with my hiring manager/recruiter on my military spouse status (without lying, just leaving out specific spouse career details), I would not have been offered the position.  How do I know this?  When my director found out about six months into the position, she was surprised and THEN asked all of her questions… “So how long are you going to be here?  When do you expect to leave?” and so on.  Because I had made such a difference and worked to make her job easier with me coming in, it was not as important as it would have been if I volunteered the information during my interview.

If you think of it, in most cases, a civilian job candidate’s spouse’s career/job should not play a role in the interview process, so why should it for a military spouse?  Unfortunately it does and there’s no REAL way to avoid it unless you happen to identify a military friendly employer or get an internal referral by a fellow military spouse/friend for a position that welcomes the military lifestyle.

Back to your question…. what’s the reason you provide when you are relocating?  It can vary based on your career interests.  If you’re comfortable advising that your husband’s work brought you to the area, then that is appropriate.  If the employer straight up asks if he is military, that can get a bit tricky AND I would probably reconsider candidacy, but in that case I would tell the truth.

Here is an article I’ve kept on file for a while when I worked with a military spouse career nonprofit, from the AirForce Times touching on this exact issue: Mission Family: Employers do want military spouses

You can also reference the following brochure to help you with your discussion in the event that your military status comes to fruition during an interview: Military Spouse Employment Brochure

Happy hunting!

“Has being a Military Spouse helped or hindered your career?”

Most military spouse professionals would agree that for some assignments, the military spouse label was hindering and for others it served as another avenue to find rewarding employment.

When I was living amongst a small military community in Florida where “military friendly” employers were not commonly sought out or advertised, it was discouraged to volunteer military spouse status when seeking “professional” employment.  I was seeking a mid-level management position and a 5-year plan was a significant focal point to the employer, whereas an entry level position focused more so on a 2-3 year plan. Based on this, I knew that it would not be beneficial to bring this up as a talking point during the interview.  I was asked what brought me to Florida, and I advised that my husband’s job required us to relocate.  When asked what he did for a living, I responded that he is in the communications field – he was a COMMUNICATIONS officer, so this was entirely true.  My boss was not too excited to hear that I was a military spouse a few months after I was hired, but I was already integrated into the position and the environment, and was kicking butt in the process (we spouses have the gift to adapt QUICKLY)!

I will say that being a military spouse within the industry that I work in now is an ABSOLUTE PLUS!  Most of my client base consists of military spouses and transitioning veterans/military members.  I am an employment and recruiting consultant and living in a rather large military community like Colorado Springs adds a lot of value to my business and provides many opportunities to work with the local military installations to educate spouses on effective employment practices and tools in a way that they an relate to AS A FELLOW SPOUSE.  This is another niche that won’t be available to me at our next upcoming assignment.  Military-affiliated clientele trust our services over someone they would find in the Yellow Pages just because we are part of the military family and “we” exercise a certain type of empathy and identification with one another as military families.

Location is key, but networking is THE key – if there are military-friendly employers, sometimes the only way to inquire on those folks and their employment opportunities is to network within the military community.

Military Spouses Praise New Employment Program

We had to share this with our readers!  As many of you can understand, maintaining a career as a military spouse can be difficult due to many reassignments within a military member’s career as well as the necessary sacrifices that come with living a military lifestyle. In an effort to address military spouses’ employment challenges, the Defense Department launched a program to expand career opportunities for military spouses worldwide with employment readiness opportunities, more corporate support and government sponsorship, as well as military spouse employment outreach.  This is great news for our fellow military families!

– Christine Brugman, US Air National Guard Spouse

Family Matters Blog: Spouses Praise New Employment Program
Thu, 30 Jun 2011 12:04:00 -0500

DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Department of Defense News

Family Matters Blog: Spouses Praise New Employment Program

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 – Yesterday, I attended the launch of the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Through this new program, officials hope to expand career opportunities for military spouses worldwide, and to recognize the numerous job skills and talents they bring to the table.

Dr. Jill Biden greets audience members at the Military Spouse Employment Partnership kick-off at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., June 29, 2011. The partnership promotes meaningful, long-term employment opportunities between America’s employers and military spouses. More than 70 employers already have signed on with the partnership, signifying their commitment to increase employment opportunities for military spouses, provide promotion opportunities to deserving spouse employees, ensure pay equity and spread the word about spousal support.  Partners also have pledged to post job opportunities on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Web portal located on http://www.ourmilitary.mil.

After the ceremony, I spoke with several military spouses, who unanimously voiced their approval of this new program.

“We have very valuable skills to bring to the private sector, the public sector, the nonprofit sector,” said Navy spouse Vivian Greentree. “This employment partnership is just opening a door where there wasn’t one before, and the military spouses are going to rush through it.

“This is a very powerful message for military spouses who by and large feel mostly discriminated against because of their military spouse status,” she added.

Pamela Stokes-Eggleston, spouse of wounded warrior retired Army Staff Sgt. Charles Eggleston, recalled when her husband was recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She was laid off at the time, and had a tough time finding a job with a wounded warrior husband, she said, and also was considered overqualified for most available jobs.

“There wasn’t this kind of support you see here today,” she said. “I’m excited as a spouse of a wounded warrior that MSEP is actually going. This is a good step in the right direction.”

Air Force spouse Sandy Cazares said she has changed careers several times during her husband’s 10-year military career. “It’s great to give military spouses the opportunity to actually be heard,” she said, “to be given the chance to be able to be recognized for our accomplishments, our education level, and also take into account the fact that it’s often out of our hands when we have to move.”

Her husband, she added, is preparing to deploy and she will have to pursue yet another career to provide a better work-life balance for their children.

“I think this is a great opportunity for all military spouses — a greatly underappreciated population in the military,” Cazares’ husband said. “Seeing that now, regardless of what base we move to around the world, she has opportunities is a great advancement for military spouses in general.”

Kristi Hamrick, an Air Force spouse who has moved 11 times in 17 years, agreed. “It will make our lives as military spouses so much easier, because right before you move, there’s that ramp up of getting that resume ready and all that on top of moving. If you can get a job where you have another job waiting on the other end … that would reduce so much stress.”

“I’m overwhelmed,” added Jennifer Pilcher, wife of Navy Cmdr. Eddie Pilcher. “I truly think it’s the first time in history that the military spouse has been recognized. To sit here and hear the program is for us is overwhelming and exciting.”

Barbara Thompson, director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy/children and youth, also lauded the new program. “We’ve had spouse employment programs over the years at family support centers, but this is the first organized program across the military services,” she said. “It’s leveraging all of the military services to get these corporations.

“This is just the opening for all America to step up to the plate to tap into this incredible work force.”

For more on this program, read my American Forces Press Service article, DOD Launches Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or visit http://www.ourmilitary.mil.

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