Mastering Networking and LinkedIn: A Guide for Military Spouses

Kelly Grivner-Kelly

Finding meaningful employment can be a challenging journey for military spouses, who often face unique career obstacles such as frequent relocations and gaps in employment. However, mastering the art of networking and effectively leveraging LinkedIn can significantly enhance your career prospects and provide a solid support system. Here’s a detailed guide to help military spouses navigate these essential professional tools.

Why Networking is Crucial: The Power of Connections

Networking is more than just a buzzword—it’s a powerful tool that can open doors to job opportunities, provide professional advice, and build a community of support. For military spouses, networking can be a lifeline, offering connections that understand and appreciate the unique challenges you face.

Building Your Network

  • Tap Into Existing Contacts – Start with the people you already know. Let everyone know you are looking for a job. Reach out to family, friends, and former colleagues to let them know about your career goals and ask for introductions.

  • Attend Networking Events –  Participate in local and virtual networking events, job fairs, and seminars. Look for events specifically tailored to military spouses. Check out Hire Heroes USA’s events page for virtual events. Hire Heroes USA will be hosting a LinkedIn series focused on tips and tools to utilize Linkedin – keep an eye out for this on our events page!

  • Join Professional Associations – Becoming a member of professional organizations in your field can provide access to exclusive networking events and job boards.

Maximizing LinkedIn – Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile

  • Choose a Professional Photo –  A high-quality, professional photo can significantly impact first impressions. Aim for a friendly yet professional look.

  • Craft a Compelling Headline –  Your headline should succinctly convey your current role and career aspirations. For example, ” Elementary Educator | Curriculum Designer | Expert in Digital Learning Platforms”

  • Write a Strong Summary –  Your summary should highlight your skills, experiences, and career goals. Unlike the more structured sections of your LinkedIn profile, the summary allows you to convey your personality and tell your story in a more personal and engaging way. This helps humanize your profile and makes you more memorable.

  • Detail Your Work Experience and Education –  Clearly list your work experiences, focusing on your achievements and responsibilities. Include any volunteer work and roles during periods of relocation.

  • Showcase Your Skills and Endorsements – List your skills and ask colleagues, friends, and supervisors for endorsements to add credibility to your profile.

  • Gather Recommendations –  Request recommendations from people who can attest to your work ethic and skills. These testimonials can strengthen your profile.

Growing Your LinkedIn Network

  • Connect with Relevant Individuals – Start by connecting with people you know and then expand to industry leaders, recruiters, and professionals in your field.

  • Join LinkedIn Groups – Engage in groups related to your career interests. Participate in discussions, share valuable content, and connect with group members. Check out Hire Heroes USA – Serving Spouses Program Group on LinkedIn.

  • Engage with Content – Regularly post and share industry-relevant content. Comment on others’ posts to increase your visibility and engagement.

  • Personalize Connection Requests –  When sending connection requests, include a personalized message explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect.

Utilizing Networking and Career Resources – Resources for Military Spouses

Hire Heroes USA: Hire Heroes’ Serving Spouses Program is a career coaching program that pairs military spouses with a transition specialist who understands and knows how to overcome the challenges military spouses face. Services include:

  • Personalized one-on-one career coaching

  • Professionally revised resumes

  • Mock interviews

  • Mentoring

  • Workshops

  • Job board

  • Career fairs

 Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP): Connects military spouses with employers committed to hiring them.

 LinkedIn’s Military Spouse Program: Includes a free year of LinkedIn Premium and access to LinkedIn Learning for military spouses.

 American Corporate Partners (ACP): Provides mentorship for military spouses and veterans.

 iRelaunch: If you’re struggling to return to work after a career break,  iRelaunch can help. iRelaunch is the pioneering leader in the career reentry field, bringing thousands of mid-career professionals, “relaunchers,” back into the workforce after extended leave

 National Military Family Association: Scholarships for spouses, in addition to family and career support.

Tips for Effective Networking

  • Be Genuine – Build authentic relationships by being genuinely interested in others, rather than just focusing on what they can do for you.

  • Follow Up –  After meeting someone new, send a follow-up message to thank them and express your interest in staying connected.

  • Stay Organized – Keep track of your contacts, their details, and any necessary follow-up actions.

  • Give Back – Offer help and support to your connections whenever possible. Networking is a two-way street.

For military spouses, mastering networking and LinkedIn can provide significant career advantages. By building a robust network, creating a standout LinkedIn profile, and utilizing available resources, you can navigate the civilian job market more effectively and achieve your professional goals. Your unique experiences as a military spouse are valuable assets in any workplace. Happy networking, and remember that every connection brings you closer to your career aspirations.

Kelly Kelly, the Serving Spouses Program Manager at Hire Heroes USA, draws on over 10 years of Business Management experience. As a veteran military spouse herself, she understands the challenges of finding meaningful employment. Having been a client of Hire Heroes USA, Kelly witnessed firsthand the organization’s mission in action. She played a pivotal role in creating the Serving Spouses program and currently oversees its specialized Transition Specialists, workshops, and webinars tailored to military spouses’ unique needs. Kelly is dedicated to mentoring veterans and spouses, helping them define and achieve their professional goals. Since joining Hire Heroes USA in 2016, she has helped over 1500 veterans and military spouses find employment.  You can register to connect with a dedicated career coach at Hire Heroes USA.