How Can Military Spouses Benefit From Contract Work
As a military spouse, it can be difficult and tiring to search for quality jobs on a frequent basis — all while trying to communicate your circumstances to employers who may not understand.
Aerotek Recruiting Manager Mike Hooker shares his personal experience and professional insight on how to use recruiters and contract work to your advantage while you and your military family are on the move.
Staffing agencies and military spouses: An exceptional fit
Mike Hooker was a military kid. His father did 30 years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot, and he lived in 13 places by the time he was 18. He understands the demands of this lifestyle firsthand.
“My mother used a staffing agency, and it served my family well. She always had a job. Staffing agencies are perfect for military spouses,” says Hooker.
We advocate for military spouses like you — communicating to employers how your experience dealing with change and being flexible makes you a valuable employee.
“When we’re looking to place a candidate who’s a military spouse, we explain their situation to clients and back it up with references, which helps market them as candidates fit for the job. It also helps that we know which companies are hiring, what type of folks they’re looking for and whether they’re open to candidates who could be more temporary hires. We understand the demands of a military family lifestyle and know what questions to ask.”
Get prepared for quality contract work
To find a quality contract job near where your family is stationed, follow these tips:
- Always be straightforward with your recruiter (and hiring manager) about your family’s situation and how long you think you’ll be around — we understand that may change.
- Even if you’ve worked various jobs or have employment history gaps, keep your resume up to date with whom you’ve worked for and what you’ve done.
- Highlight any relevant technical and people skills you’ve developed while working in various areas.
Contract jobs can keep your career advancing
As a military spouse, you can use contract work to learn new skills. You should always apply to jobs that match your current experience, but look for opportunities to pick up new skills in every new assignment.
As long as you’re willing to learn and work as a part of a team, many employers will provide training, whether you start out in general labor, a warehouse job, an administrative role or another position before upskilling.
And after you work on a project and need to relocate, it’s possible to do the job you like somewhere else or elevate to a higher position.
Take it from Hooker: “Because we have so many offices, we are positioned to help military spouses transition to their next assignment. For instance, we have a welder whose husband just got stationed down in San Diego. So we reached out to our counterparts there. She'll travel down soon to do a weld test and will likely transition into a new job pretty easily.”
Familiarize yourself with benefits for military spouses
The military offers robust online and in-person resources designed specifically for military spouses and transitioning vets. Be sure to take advantage of these resources, many of which are free.
Family Support Centers: Most military bases have Family Support Centers that connect vets and spouses with jobs and useful programs like certification and retraining classes. These centers typically operate during normal business hours and are staffed with experts who understand your situation.
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO): This program provides military spouses with career coaching, licensure and tuition reimbursement and free access to LinkedIn Premium. Visit their site for eligibility information.
Job fairs: Keep an eye out for on-base job fairs. They occur frequently and draw a range of businesses. Be sure to have your resume available for employers in attendance.
Get ahead of your next move
Communication and proactivity are key for finding your first — or next — contract job. Reach out to a trusted recruiter before you relocate so you can update your information, explain your circumstances and start building your new network.
“I tell folks to reach out to me here as early as a month out, if they can,” says Hooker. “It gives me time to find opportunities, submit resumes and work out other logistics.”
You’ll save yourself the extra stress and legwork.
Special thanks to military spouses Sam Standring and Laurie Carey for their input.