October 20, 2009
By Janet Farley
Work. Love it or hate it, it’s what we do. According to the 2008 Survey of Spouses published by the Defense Manpower Data Center, we work for a number of reasons.
90% of us have to work in order to meet our basic living expenses
95% of us want to have a career
96% work to earn extra money to use in the here and now
100% of us want to save money for the future
Whatever your own reasons for earning a paycheck, it seems collectively clear that our jobs are important to us. As such, they deserve all the tender, loving care we can provide them. And while we may be on board with that concept in theory, PCS orders sending us to live and potentially work in lands of limited opportunity often complicate our best intentions.
If and when you find your professional advancement stagnating as a result of PCS move, (and it will at some point, don’t worry), keep the following career-saving strategies in mind.
Don’t jump to conclusions.
It may only look like you’ve landed in a one-horse town. Don’t assume that all is lost until you have researched the situation yourself. In an ideal world, you’ve done this way before you find yourself unpacking the boxes in your new home. The ideal, as we all know, doesn’t always happen.
You can find out the information you need to know by first contacting the family center’s employment readiness manager on the installation. You can also access the community’s Chamber of Commerce online and get connected to potential employers who happen to be members. Don’t limit yourself to applying for published job vacancies. Contact employers directly and start a conversation. And don’t forget to harness the power of your own personal Facebook, MySpace or Linked In pages.
Work on the edge.
Available opportunities to work your job, as you know and love it, may not exist at the moment you are looking for them. If this is the case, then consider working on the edge. In other words, consider working around your chosen career path in a position that supports it. This way, you are still working in your field. While you are doing this, you can also keep your eyes and ears open for the job you really want and you’ll be making excellent networking contacts while you’re at it.
Become your own boss.
The 2008 Survey of Active Duty Spouses, reports that a whopping 5% of you already own your own business. If that’s not you now, maybe you fall into the 32% of spouses who would like to.
If you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, consider it. The following links can give you more information as you consider this possibility:
SBA's Small Business Planner
IRS: Starting a Business
Home Business Opportunities for Military Spouses (Military OneSource)
Volunteer your skills.
If your ideal job doesn’t isn’t available, volunteer to do it. You can continue your job search for paid employment in the meantime and your resume won’t fall victim to a massive time gap. Volunteering is also an excellent way to build your professional reputation up in a new community. By volunteering, you open the floodgates to networking opportunities and that, in turn, may eventually lead to paid employment.
Change your profession.
This may an extreme option, but it may be the right one. If you find yourself always struggling to advance in your career from place to place, then changing professions shouldn’t be ruled out. By now, you’ve heard all about the virtues of portable employment. There’s a reason for that. And aside from reason, there are now tangible ways to help you actually achieve it. See Strategy #7 for more details.
If you have a great job and know that you will not be able to continue working in the field of your choice at your next duty station, consider not going at all. You stay behind and let hubby rotate out. You wouldn’t be the first to resort to this option. Granted, it’s not a popular option that will work for everyone, but it may be the one that works for you.
Go back to school.
If you haven’t considered opening a Career Advancement Account, (MyCAA), now may be the time to do so. Eligible spouses may be able to receive up to $6,000 worth of financial assistance to purse education, training, licenses, certificates and degrees leading to employment within a portable career field.
Author of The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide, 2nd Edition (Jist Inc, October 2009) and The Military Spouse's Complete Guide to Career Success (Impact Publications, Jan 2008).