When you’re married to someone in the military, it’s normal to move around quite a bit. But finding employment can be incredibly difficult, especially if you’re looking for flexible work-from-home opportunities with benefits like health insurance and paid time off. Challenges like unemployment rates, discrimination, and unrealistic goal setting can deter any military spouse from seeking gainful employment. These three reasons explain why reentering the workforce as an ambitious military spouse can be harder now than ever before.
Decisions, Delays, and Data
Without flexible job opportunities, military spouses often have to sacrifice career opportunities for family comforts. Thanks to these natural barriers, military spouse retention remains low in data. In addition to their mobile lifestyles, many jobs require specialized training or certifications that military spouses may not be able to retain or transfer while they’re still living an active duty life.
Discrimination Practices When Hiring Military Spouses
Military spouse protection falls under a different law: 10 US Code Section 1034—which states that military service members may not be denied employment based on their membership in any component of the armed forces or for exercising their rights under 10 US Code 1033. That law also states that employers must make reasonable efforts to hire qualified military spouses for vacant positions. But what do reasonable efforts really mean? Some companies have internal outreach initiatives, a partnership with military spouse organizations, or even specific job opportunities for spouses.
Military Spouse Unemployment
Organizations like Hiring Our Heroes work with legislators to combat the increase in unemployment rates of military spouses, which are currently above 35%. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) is actively working toward reducing the rate of unemployment by partnering with private companies and local organizations to create new job opportunities for spouses. Military spouses may also be underrepresented in some fields due to geography or other factors.
Employers: Create Flexible Job Opportunities
Creating flexible job opportunities for military spouses isn’t tricky, but it does take a little planning. If you have employees who are military spouses, talk to them about what kind of schedule works best for them. In addition to more flexible schedules, creating more employment opportunities will also help military spouse retention within your company. Military spouse employment has its advantages: from skills learned in service to new professional contacts acquired along career paths, military spouse employment may improve your company’s bottom line.
Military Spouses: Set Realistic Goals
As a military spouse, set realistic goals for yourself. Decide what type of job will fit your schedule, how many hours a week you can work, and if work-from-home opportunities are available. Ask your employer about military spouse retention policies. Finding another military spouse who has gone through similar situations to yours can be immensely helpful; not only do they offer support, but valuable advice and insight on dealing with spouses’ issues, including how best to take advantage of all military spouse employment resources.