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About the Author

Michelle Aikman is a military spouse and career management expert.

Orders are on their way; it is time to move. Planning is difficult when moving, so the more time you can spend thinking through the possibilities for the next stage in your career — positive and negative — the more prepared you will be to hone in your focus once you have more information about your new job market. This also will help you develop backup plans in case your next duty station has less than desirable employment options.

Job searching for military spouses is much more than simply preparing a résumé and brushing up on interview skills. Developing plans and contingency plans, understanding one’s worth and market position, doing some soul searching, and finding some serious grit and determination are key.

If you want to be employed at your next duty station, here are a few ways you can set yourself up for success.

As soon as you find out, or suspect, you are moving:

  • Assess the importance of working, for you and your family.
  • Assess the importance of working for you and your family, in a specific career field, industry, or role.
  • Create a preliminary needs assessment. Jot down a few thoughts to the following regarding your upcoming employment situation:
    • What is a must?
    • What is preferable?
    • What is OK?
    • What is undesirable?
  • Check in with your key professional network connections. If you haven’t reached out in a while, take the time to reconnect in a genuine way.
  • Take stock of your skills and interests, especially if it has been a while.
  • Collect data to help quantify your recent accomplishments and activities.
  • Review your résumé, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and any other items for your professional portfolio. Create a short wish list of ways you want to improve each.
  • Find 2-3 mentors or champions to help you through your upcoming professional transition.

As soon as you find out where you are moving:

  • Research opportunities in the area, both jobs that are posted and opportunities that might not be posted.
  • Check the opportunities against your needs assessment. Based on your initial review of what is available in the area, adjust your needs assessment accordingly. Perhaps there are more opportunities than you originally had anticipated, or perhaps there doesn’t seem to be any that satisfy the needs you listed under “must.”
  • Create a simple job-search plan with:
    • Target companies, roles, etcetera.
    • How you plan to approach them.
    • What you need to prepare or update before you approach them.
    • Your timeline.
    • How much time you are going to dedicate to your job search and how you are going to divide your time.
    • How you are going to track important information related to your job search.
  • Find out if you have any contacts in the area or if your contacts have any contacts in the area. ( LinkedIn is great for this search.)
  • Connect with the local job center to get a list of company contacts in the area.
  • Conduct research on the salary ranges for that area.
  • Start executing your simple job-search plan, including preparing and updating all needed documents you identified in your plan.

Once you have your feet on the ground in your new duty location:

  • Contact your local connections and let them know you are now in town. Request a brief meeting to say hello in person.
  • Attend career fairs, professional association events, and professional events to expand your professional network in the area and develop face-to-face bonds with people in your target industry and companies.
  • Connect with your local job center contact in person to enhance your relationship with him or her.
  • Request information interviews to learn more about the companies and opportunities in the area. Take the time to understand how you can help the people on the other side of the table, and they will be more apt to help you.
  • Reassess your job-search plan every 30 days.

Job searching often requires a positive attitude and great deal of perseverance. If you start to feel anxious, remember to focus on finding the right fit, both for you and the employer.

  Print this checklist, and then make sure to download our free Military Spouse Employment Guide!

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