Writing an exceptional résumé is hard for anyone, however a military spouse resume is a bit more difficult, and will look different than a resume of someone who has been in one place for more than three years. The endless amount of jobs, short durations and drastic career changes makes it quite difficult to create an appealing résumé. However, with a little creativity and exploration, it can be accomplished.
1 Choose the Correct Résumé Format
There are several résumé styles to choose from, including chronological, functional, combination, and targeted. It is important to choose the right résumé style that best reflects your skills so explore each style and format and tailor your résumé to the one that best highlights your capabilities.
For example, if you have large employment gaps or numerous short-term positions, perhaps you should consider using a non-traditional “functional” résumé or a “combination” résumé. A functional résumé is geared toward those individuals who want to highlight their skills and abilities rather than focusing on the time frame of each job they’ve held.
A combination resume also highlights skills and is great to consider for recent graduates, and those with gaps in employment. It provides both a list of skills, as well as a chronological list of relevant employment history. This kind of resume can be easily altered for different applications to include keywords and phrases.
Finally, start each descriptive line of your resume with “strong action verbs,” such as the ones in this list, to help highlight your experience and provide a list of descriptive terms so your future employer can understand exactly what you did. Below is a line from a military spouse resume sample.Example: Bookseller at Bookstore X
Line 1:Provided excellent customer service by understanding store policies and search techniques
Line 1: Helped customers find books by searching the system and knowing the store’s layout
Although these two descriptions say similar things, the top is more direct and uses better verbs. I usually use three descriptive lines for each job listing. It can be a daunting task to start a resume, but once you create a copy with everything you might possibly want on it, then Save As new copies for each job and simply remove the least relevant information for each job you’re applying for.
2 Include a Captivating Cover Letter
A cover letter is considered a must in today’s job market. You can have a remarkable résumé but if it doesn’t accompany a high-quality cover letter, it will most likely end up in the “NO” pile. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and to highlight your skills relevant to the position. If you do a good job of relaying this information correctly and precisely, hiring manager will more than likely take the time to review your résumé, thus giving you the chance to stand out among the remaining applicants.
3 Include Volunteer Experience and Trainings
You may consider yourself “unemployed” if you don’t have a traditional job. However, that doesn’t mean that you are not acquiring useful skills and education that can be applied to a job or used in your résumé. For example, are you a member of the spouses club? Do you volunteer at the base’s thrift store? Have you attended any relevant training? Relevant positions don’t always mean a salary was achieved.
Focus on the relevant skills you obtained and use them on your résumé. Communication skills, leadership roles, and supervision experience are all examples of ideal traits that can be useful to any job regardless of where you obtained them.
If you don’t want to list every position, you can make a separate section for skills, such as in the combination resume.
4 Send Your Résumé to “Military Friendly” Organizations and Businesses
With a quick Google search it’s easy to find an extensive list of businesses that value the dexterity and expertise that a military spouse can bring to their company. MetLife, US Bank and Goodwill Industries are among the numerous companies that have pledged to hire military spouses. It’s always a good idea to send your résumé to employers that value your skill sets and who are willing to aid with the hurdles military spouses are likely to face.
5 Utilize the Career Office/Spouse Services
Although each installation varies, military bases offer many services to spouses including career exploration, available job listings and résumé help. Often underutilized, their supportive and free services are sure to benefit military spouses who seek their assistance. Not only can they help you create an outstanding résumé, but they also have a vast amount of experience working with the many résumé writing obstacles that military spouses face.
Yes, finding a job while being a military spouse can be daunting. However, with preparation, assistance and endurance, you are sure to find the perfect job for you. Don’t let the endless moves and hindrances affect you from obtaining your career goals.
Filed Under: Employment
Job Search Tips for Veterans' Spouses
By Diane Hudson
If you followed your service member spouse around the globe for 20 years, then your resume could include a dozen or more jobs, in addition to many volunteer positions; or large gaps in time and varied job titles.
Every time you moved, you struggled to send resumes, fill out federal applications, and network in a new location.
You may have accepted different jobs, just to "get into the system" at your new location. If you were stationed in a remote location, you may not have been able to obtain employment, as opportunities were limited.
When your military spouse is ready to retire, and you make a decision to "settle" into one location, then you will need to revamp your resume and leverage your 20-year list of jobs, volunteer positions, and experiences.
On a resume, honesty is the best policy. So, your gaps of time with no employment can be highlighted as opportunities for volunteer service, gaining education, training or credentials.
The summary on your resume or in your cover letter can read similar to the following:
"Followed military spouse around the world for 20 years. Lived in three countries; traveled to 20 countries. Well-cultured; embrace diversity; very adaptable and flexible. Twenty-year career includes volunteer service and paid positions in industry and the federal government gaining expertise in program coordination, office administration, and bookkeeping. Bachelor of Science in Communications; bi-lingual (Spanish). Formerly held Secret clearance."
Chronology entries may include:
2012 - 2015: Completed bachelor's degree. (Stationed in Germany.)
2011-2012: Volunteer with Army Community Services.
Organized multiple community events including base-wide festivals drawing 3,000+ patrons; annual holiday events; and official ceremonies. Coordinated with Department of Engineering officials, other base services, and off-site contractors to secure requirements for the events, i.e., tents, chairs, food, entertainment, and sponsors. Managed operating budgets up to $30,000. Arranged for and supervised the activities of up to 325 volunteers for large events including security guard forces. (Stationed in UK.)
2007-2011: Program Coordinator (GS-7).
Program Analyst in a transportation office, managing freight shipment and transportation support functions supporting a community of 6,000. Expedited a wide range of specialized shipments including household goods, privately owned vehicles, and hazardous materials. Prepared paperwork. Coordinated with customs' officials. Held Secret clearance. (Stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.)
2001-2007: Stay-at-home-mom and community volunteer.
Served as volunteer for Girl Scouts / coordinated annual cookie sales with average annual revenue of $7,000 in region; coordinated and led adult Sunday school; Committee Chair for Spouses Club / organized the shipment of hundreds of boxes of goodies to deployed soldiers; Red Cross Volunteer. (Stationed in Korea and USA.)
It is important to network before you arrive at your final retirement location. Begin using Web 2.0 social media services including Linkedin.com and Facebook to let your family, friends, and colleagues know that you are available for employment and remind them of your skill sets.
Education and Credentials
If you need to complete a degree or obtain a credential before your military spouse retires, check out MyCAA, the DoD Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program. This is particularly good for spouses who are in remote locations where employment opportunities are scarce -- a great time to pursue a degree or credential.
For those military spouses who are ready to start school, or complete a training or certification program, leading to employment in Portable Career Fields, MyCAA provides up to $6,000 in financial assistance, as MyCAA financial assistance funds help military spouses pursue education, training, licenses, and degrees.
When seeking employment after you finally settle into a retirement location, be proud of your eclectic experiences and leverage your varied skill sets. You can let a potential employer know that you are now settled, and you will be considered a top candidate, if the employer knows you will have longevity with his company. He or she will value your diversity, ability to adapt well and be flexible, and your willingness to learn and contribute value to the new employer.
About the author...
Job-Hunt's Job Search Expert for Veterans, Diane Hudson is a military transition job-search strategist and career coach. She designs and composes military conversion resumes and helps position service members for employment in corporate or Federal America. Diane holds eight industry credentials including Certified Leadership & Talent Management Coach and Federal Job Search Trainer & Counselor and owns Career Marketing Techniques.