If you listen to a lot of the advice given to military spouses when it comes to finding employment, you’ll hear “Rule Number One about military spouse employment: You do not talk about being a military spouse.” However, following this advice is becoming outdated. Sure, there are employers out there that misunderstand how valuable a military spouse can be to their company, but do you want to walk on eggshells as long as you’re working with the company because your employer feels you misled them in the interview or you’re afraid of “being found out?” I didn’t think so.
So, what can we do to ensure that we not only find a job, but we find a job with an awesome and supportive workplace culture?
Before you interview, sit down and think about what is important to you as an employee.
I know how tempting it is to just take any job when we first get to a new duty station, but, you want to make sure that you’re walking into an opportunity that will be a good fit for you; if it isn’t, you’ll either be stuck in a job you don’t like for longer than you want, or you’ll end up leaving and leaving before you need to (which doesn’t look great on a resume.) Sitting down and intentionally thinking about what we want to see within the workplace culture and as an employee (such as benefits and time off) can help guide us in finding the questions that we need to ask in the interview as well.
Don’t feel like you have to intentionally hide your military spouse affiliation.
In the interview, they’re going to ask why you’ve come to the area or may make a comment about how you move around a lot. You don’t have to come right out and say, “Oh, my spouse is in the military,” but at this point, it’s screaming that you’re either a family of vagabonds or your spouse is in the military. If you do come out and reveal what your husband or wife does, be quick to note that plenty of people move on to bigger opportunities after 2-3 years, so the risk of hiring you is equal to anyone else. At the end of the day, I’m looking for an employer that wants to make me feel supported and cared about as an individual, so if they don’t want to hire me based on what my spouse does, I’m probably not interested in working for someone so close-minded anyway.
Take mental notes on the office environment.
What does the work environment look like for your potential co-workers? Do they seem stressed out and possibly overworked or is there a bit of a laid-back vibe (even if there seems to possibly be a high workload?) As far as their attire, is it casual, dressy, or are they required to wear uniforms? All of these things (and more) can make or break a workplace, depending on our own desires. Personally, I want to wear workout leggings and tee shirts to work everyday because I’ve found I’m most productive when I’m comfortable, but is every office going to allow that? Probably not.
After the interview, if you are offered the position, trust your intuition, and if you aren’t, reflect on what you can do to make the next interview better. Always remember, you’re interviewing the company just as much as you’re being interviewed as a potential employee.