“I am qualified, I don’t know why I can’t get a job!” I hear this statement of frustration all too often from military spouses. The words spilled from my mouth so many times that I lowered my brow, huffing steam from my nostrils like an angry bull, and charged into the careers arena to take on the nasty beast that is hiring.
We all know that there are many reasons an employer should pick us, but we have to rely on creative strategies to get jobs because the hiring process is infuriating for military spouses. There are some companies that get it! Just check out the many Featured Military Spouse Friendly Employers. There are also many fantastic organizations out there fighting for us. They are advocates, change agents, and connectors. They are transforming the careers front for military spouses. However, until their work cascades throughout all industries, professions, and regions, we must navigate the market with awareness and strategy.
The reality that causes us to scream the opening statement is that online application systems are almost never designed to accommodate our complexities and the decision makers are busy sifting through mounds of applications so they find any way possible to eliminate candidates. Many employers have negative perceptions and concerns that eliminate military spouse candidates from contention. Even if an employer is unaware that you are a military spouse, they may remove you from contention because you present some element of concern for them that you have only because of your military spouse lifestyle. In the end, we are often not readily valued or offered opportunities because we don’t fit their “perfect candidate” description.