Lessons Learned as a Military Spouse Jobseeker

Lessons Learned as a Military Spouse Jobseeker

Kelly Grivner-Kelly

Challenges are nothing new to military families, nor are the struggles military spouses encounter when seeking fulfilling work, career growth and economic stability.  Between frequent relocations and unpredictable schedules, military life can create significant career obstacles for spouses. This can include noticeable gaps in their work history, frequent job and employer changes, lower wages than their civilian counterparts and substantial underemployment. 

Six years ago, after a PCS move landed my family in North Carolina, I found myself struggling with these exact challenges. With several years of HR experience and a Master’s degree, I didn’t think I would have a hard time finding a job in my new city…  Boy, was I wrong!

One month of searching quickly turned into six months of unemployment. As a career-focused individual, those six months were some of the worst of my life. I felt drained and discouraged after applying to multiple jobs each day with few responses and going on interviews that ended in rejection. Like most military spouses, I didn’t want to work solely for the financial benefits. I also to grow as a professional, gain new skills and build community with co-workers.

Around the fifth month of unemployment, I dragged myself to a job fair where I first interacted with a Hire Heroes USA representative. She encouraged me to register for the free career services they offered, and I went home and signed up the same day.

I was contacted by my Transition Specialist, Marshall, who dove right in to help revise my resume and teach me how to effectively search for a job. Turns out, I was doing it all wrong. When I implemented his suggestions, the job leads started coming in. In fact, thanks to these new resources, I networked my way into a role at the Hire Heroes USA North Carolina office as a full-time employee later that year. 

In 2018, I established the Hire Heroes USA’s Serving Spouses Program and have personally helped more than 1,000 military spouses and veterans find meaningful employment. Every day, I get to teach my clients job-seeking tips, those very tips I learned while I was unemployed:

1) If you aren’t sure what you want to do, you need to narrow that down before you start job seeking.

2) Job seeking is all about who you know – NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK and ask for informational interviews.

3) LinkedIn profiles give you access to almost every recruiter and hiring manager; make sure you complete your profile and engage regularly. 

4) If you aren’t tailoring your resume, you are wasting your time!

5) Do your research before you interview with an organization. Come prepared for interviews and ask questions.

6) Stay organized and take time for yourself to avoid job-seeking burnout.

7) If your voicemail isn’t set up or full – how can hiring managers leave you a message?

8) Always be professional and kind; don’t burn any bridges.

9) Google yourself – clean up your social presence and develop your professional brand.

10) Don’t ever become stagnant in your job search. If you take gaps in employment – always keep learning and growing.

11) Volunteer experience is valuable and can be highlighted on your resume.

12) Look into remote work opportunities and companies with military spouse hiring initiatives.

13) Do some self-reflection – YOU could be your own worst enemy and the reason why you aren’t getting hired. 

Military Spouses can sign up for free services at  www.hireheroesusa.org and can build their network through our Serving Spouses Program LinkedIn group and our Serving Spouses Facebook Group – Military Spouse Support Forum


Kelly Grivner-Kelly is the Program Manager for the Hire Heroes USA Serving Spouses Program. If you are interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.

Job Searching as a Military Spouse During COVID-19

How to fine tune your resume for remote positions
Kelly Grivner-Kelly
Highlighting the right experience on your resume is vital to having success applying for remote work.

Military Spouses are resilient and are capable of achieving success in the most trying times. In my most recent blog post, I explained why it’s a good time for military spouses to look for remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also listed resources and tips to find open remote positions. This time, I’ll dive into the skills and experience your resume should feature when applying for remote work.

Crafting a Resume for a Remote Job Application

To land an interview, your resume needs to be tailored to remote organizations. 90% of companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to organize and go through resumes. ATS systems look for keywords from the job description to make sure that you are a good match. Most companies rely on this technology to filter through the many candidates who apply. The closer your resume matches the experience in the job description the more likely you will get through these systems and into the hands of a hiring manager! When applying for remote jobs, here are few things to make sure to mention in your resume/ cover letter:

Technical Skills: Online platforms are the reason remote jobs can exist, which is why your online skills need to be top-notch. Remote companies use software to bridge the communication gap. List any software tools that you are familiar with using. Some might include Google Hangouts, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Skype, Zoom, and many more.

Communication: Your resume should mention your strong communication skills, and typos should be non-existent. Your email communication with hiring managers and recruiters should be punctual and precise.

Independence: It can’t hurt to talk about any time you were a “self-starter” or worked on projects without much supervision. Any time you worked with low or no supervision is valuable.

Highlight Previous Work from Home Experience: Recruiters and hiring managers offering remote jobs often look for people with previous experience, so having any past remote work experience on your resume will help you stand out. Your experience can be temporary or occasional.  It’s important that you’re able to demonstrate how efficient and productive you were when working remotely.

Jobscan.co is a great resource to use in the resume tailoring process!

Avoid Scams 

Some work-at-home positions are not legitimate, so pay close attention to the warning signs. Steer away from positions requiring you to pay a fee for information, training or a starter kit.

Military spouses know how to adapt, overcome and make the very best of each situation. The COVID-19 virus will pass. For those military spouses in a job search, keep the faith and continue applying! During this health crisis, the number of remote workers will increase. If you follow the above information to finding remote work, you will increase your odds of being one of them. If you are a military spouse in need of employment assistance, register for Hire Heroes USA’s serving spouses program today, here!

Job Searching as a Military Spouse During COVID-19

Job Searching as a Military Spouse During COVID-19
Kelly Grivner-Kelly
COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for military families.

Military Spouses know a thing or two about dealing with things that are beyond our control. We are equipped to handle obstacles, even in a time of crisis. Since COVID 19 has forced families across the country to shelter at home, military families now face a new form of adversity. Fortunately, flexible choices remain for spouses to find employment during this crisis.

I have been a Military Spouse for almost seven years, and I like to compare Military life to a rollercoaster ride with many twists and turns. This latest turn happened during PCS season, when many military families, including my own, were preparing to move. There was fear that our move would be delayed due to COVID-19. Luckily, we were able to continue to our duty station and settle into our new home. However, other families were not as lucky. 

Currently, there are more than 120,000 troops unable to go on to their next orders. Some service members stuck between moves are paying rent or mortgage bills in two places due to the military’s 60-day stop move order. Many military spouses were also searching for a job near their new home when the global pandemic hit.

What can military spouses do to find a job during a pandemic? As companies and organizations require employees to work from home, this offers a unique chance for jobseekers to  find remote positions. Remote work can be a great fit for military spouses. Remote jobs provide work-from-home and portable employment opportunities which allow you to relocate with your service member with less of an impact on your career.

There are companies that are still hiring. It is crucial during this crisis to do your part to keep your career search from becoming stagnant. Don’t hold off on sending your resume to employers and networking on Linkedin, both of which can be done from home.

How do you find remote work?

There are several ways to describe remote positions. Companies describe these jobs using different terms, and it’s important  to use each of these search terms while looking for remote roles.

• Remote work

• Telecommuting/Telecommute

• Work from home

• Online job

• Telework

• Anywhere job

• Virtual job

• Distributed team

• Home-based

• Off-site job

Where to Search for Remote Jobs

Below are some vetted resources that feature remote employment opportunities:

Hire Heroes USA Job Board You will see “Featured Employers” with hot jobs and “Partnered Employers” all of which we have formed partnerships with recruiters and can help streamline your applications. Make sure to create a detailed account by completing your profile and uploading your resume.

Grow with Google Google Search makes it easier to find quality remote jobs. Now, you can search for jobs that match your skillset, like “sales jobs” and filter your location to “work from home” to see relevant job listings that meet your criteria. Remote work requires its own kind of expertise, so Google created hands-on training that offers helpful tools and advice to set military spouses up for success in remote jobs. 

FlexJobs allows you to access hand-screened remote, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs—quickly and easily.

Instant Teams enables companies to scale and manage their remote workforce while delivering remote work options to untapped talent pools of professionals.

Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) seeks to strengthen the education and career opportunities of military spouses by providing career exploration opportunities, employment readiness assistance, and training that can help them reach their career goals.

Virtforce VirtForce is reducing the unemployment rate for Active Duty MilSpouses and Veterans by connecting employers seeking to diversify and distribute their talent network to qualified virtual candidates within the military community. Join their newsletter to receive great remote opportunities. USNLX Virtual Jobs partnership collects and distributes job openings exclusively found on corporate career websites and state job banks.

Organizations hiring Virtual Assistants

• Boldly

• Patriot Advantage

• Wise Advise + Assist Team

• Squared Away

If you are a military spouse in need of employment assistance, register for Hire Heroes USA’s Serving Spouses program! We offer free resources to help military spouses succeed in the workforce. Each spouse client is paired with a Transition Specialist who will guide them through their job search from start to finish, staying in touch along the way to coach, listen, and encourage!