During May, we celebrated Military Appreciation Month and Military Spouse Appreciation Day. For those without a military affiliation, both occasions may go unnoticed. However, after these celebrations, I wanted to recognize those in the military community and share perspectives on how to navigate your career as a military spouse.
All marriages and partnerships face challenges but being married to a military member comes with its own unique set of challenges. The frequent relocations that come with having to reacclimate yourself to new areas, find and set up a home, and identify childcare are just some of the few challenges military spouses face on a regular basis. These frequent changes and unknowns associated with your military member’s job demands can make it feel particularly daunting to also pursue and maintain a professional career. While a professional career can seem like a far-off pursuit, it is possible! And while I am by no means an “expert,” I wanted to share some of my lessons learned along the way.
Portable skills, careers, and employers
Identify skills that are transferable across different industries or job roles. These skills can include areas such as recruiting, project management, administrative tasks, research and analysis, communication, or client relations. Diversifying your skill set will increase your marketability and open various job options. The pandemic has certainly shifted the conversation around remote work opportunities which have improved the ability to maintain a career while accommodating military moves. More law firms have embraced remote work, and some have espoused their commitment to hiring military spouses. Many companies have also made pledges to hire military spouse talent more proactively. These employers can be a one-stop shop in terms of targeting your job search to know that you are potentially joining an organization that is understanding and supportive of your career.
Network and leverage resources
No matter what industry you are in or your career level, networking is crucial for career growth. Attend professional events, join industry-specific organizations, and connect with professionals in your desired field. Military spouse organizations and online communities can be great resources for networking and obtaining information about job openings in your area. There are many career-affiliated organizations that can support you in your job search such as the Military Spouse Professional Networks, Military Spouse J.D. Network, and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Networking also includes building your professional brand on LinkedIn which is a great resource for connecting with other professionals and searching for career opportunities.
Continuous learning and volunteering
If you know you’ll only be at your duty station for a year or less, that may be a terrific opportunity to invest in your professional development by learning new skills, going back to school, or earning certifications that are relevant to your career goals or supplement your experiences. It can also be an ideal time to take on a volunteer position with a local organization or club to not only augment your existing skills but also take a hands-on approach to reskilling.
If there is one thing we learn from military life, it is to be flexible. Making the mindset shift to embrace the changes that come your way has been critical to me over the years. The same is true for our careers – your job search may look different than what you imagined after you graduated. Being open to new opportunities or industries can have significant benefits in broadening your horizons and exploring pathways you may not have previously considered.
As an Army spouse, I have experienced the challenges of building a career through five cross-country moves in eight years while my spouse serves. It is not lost on me that I have been extremely fortunate to work with employers who are supportive of my professional career. Remember that building a successful career takes time, effort, and persistence. By using your skills, networking strategically, continuous learning, and being flexible, you can forge a rewarding professional path as a military spouse. I am always happy to connect with other military spouses to help as you navigate your own professional journey.
If you are interested in speaking more about navigating your profession as a military spouse or your career path generally, we’d love to hear from you. Actively seeking a new role? Check out our career center to view our latest opportunities at top law firms across North America that are seeking high-value talent.