Countless military spouses navigate the job-hunting process frequently as a result of military moves and other life demands outside of their control. Still, no matter how many times you complete a job hunt in a new place, it can be tough to figure out where to begin.
Luckily, military spouses can access resources to help combat the ambiguity surrounding job searches in new locations. Read on to learn about five free ways to step up your next job hunt:
- Investigate the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program. The first step in any good job hunt is to discern where your professional focus should be. Need some direction on what jobs are right for you and where to look for them? Military spouses have exclusive access to career advice and resources through the Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program. Special resources exist to help make your job hunt the best it can be — discover career exploration tools, education options and training and licensing resources. Ready to investigate? Learn more about Education and Career Guidance from SECO.
- Network. Everyone says that networking is the key to finding great professional opportunities. For those integrated into a particular community long-term, a network can be organically built slowly over time. But how are military spouses supposed to network in communities in which they have no connections? It can take a little extra effort, but it isn’t impossible! I have a confession to make. I thought professional networking websites were pointless and didn’t use them at all during our first military move. The truth is that I simply didn’t know how to use them well. I have since learned the value of online professional networking — specifically, LinkedIn. Online networking can allow you to start connecting in your new professional community before your PCS plays out. Plus, utilizing professional networking websites can save you time and energy and make you aware of opportunities that you might not have found otherwise. Did you know? Military spouses are eligible for a free LinkedIn Premium upgrade through SECO.
- Connect with colleagues and join groups. Networking tools like LinkedIn can allow you to connect with current and former colleagues. Plus, you can join professional groups to facilitate meeting new contacts. However, connecting doesn’t have to be limited to online forums. Research networking opportunities in your new city such as young professional organizations, networking coffee hours and field-specific volunteering opportunities. When we completed our last PCS, I networked in online college alumni groups, industry-specific groups and groups designed specifically for military spouses. Strategic group connections tailored to your interests and affiliations can make you aware of job opportunities that aren’t posted in public forums. Plus, you can start networking in your new town before you’re actually living there — and learn about remote opportunities not limited to a particular location. Once you’re settled in your new place, keep an eye out for opportunities to connect with peers in person, too. After a few months of working in my new city and integrating into the professional community for my field, in-person networking helped me land a new job. Stay connected to the people that you meet along the way — you never know who you will run into again!
- Tailor your approach. One of the most frustrating parts about the job hunt is putting a lot of effort into opportunities that don’t pan out. When we completed a cross-country PCS, I applied to 65 jobs over the course of a couple of months. This was not only time-consuming, but it was also ineffective.Prep your cover letter and resume before the move so that you can easily apply to jobs when the time comes. Then, hone in on the opportunities that really interest you and adapt your resume and cover letter to speak to those specific jobs. A few well-tailored submissions can yield better results than many generic applications. Need help tailoring your resume? Check out SECO resume customizing resources.
- Build your online brand. Do some work on making your LinkedIn the best that it can be — a professional and polished online presence can offer you a big boost. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Put on professional attire and take a great headshot for your profile — not a selfie!
- Review the accounts of successful professionals in your field to gain inspiration.
- Look at job postings that interest you and add relevant keywords to the skills section on your profile — this will help you to get noticed!
- Post and share things relevant to your desired industry — this is a great way to start conversations with new connections.
Are you ready for the job hunt? Don’t wait until your next move to start preparing! Cultivate your online network now to make the process smoother when the time comes and take advantage of the resources available to you.