It's a Great Time to Hire Military Spouses

American flag and picket fence

In an era of historically low unemployment, it’s more important than ever for companies to ensure they’re casting the widest net possible for job applicants. This includes reaching out to a large but widely unrecognized candidate pool — military spouses.

American military wives and husbands, approximately 690,000, had an unemployment rate of 16 percent in 2017, far above the 4.3 percent for the total population.

Reports suggest that it’s not because military spouses have no interest in pursuing their careers. When officials with the Pentagon's military spouse support office last year decided to hold a virtual symposium to connect military spouses with jobs last year they were hoping to get 500 participants over four days. Instead they had 3,500.

Facing the challenges

There are certainly challenges to employment among military spouses, notes a 2018 report from The Council of Economic Advisers. “[T]hey often find their labor market activities, including choices over whether to work, how many hours, and in what occupation, to be subject to the geographic and temporal constraints imposed by their active duty spouse.”

A 2018 executive order hopes to address this issue by streamlining hiring requirements for federal government positions in addition to:

  • Educating government agencies to increase awareness of the opportunities it creates among military spouses;
  • Requiring all agencies to report annually on their progress in advertising positions to, obtaining applications from, and hiring military spouses; and
  • Directing agencies to recommend new ways to improve license portability and remove barriers to the employment of military spouses.

Benefits of hiring military spouses

Task & Purpose noted that, in addition to job experience, employers are attracted to skills many military spouses have developed, including:

  • Project management
  • Teamwork
  • Commitment
  • Resourcefulness and creativity
  • Strength under pressure

Taking advantage of relocations

A number of large national and multinational corporations are already onboard with attracting military spouses. “For companies that have locations across the country, it can be a great fit,” notes Aerotek Director of Business Development Dave Majerowicz, an Air Force veteran. “If the military member is transferred, the military spouse can also transfer to a nearby location, meaning the company gets an experienced employee who transfers knowledge to the new environment.” For companies that can coordinate such a program, it works well in building employee loyalty as well as a consistent workforce.

With more than 2.8 million U.S. jobs, call centers are taking advantage of this abundant labor pool as well. “Especially in health care, services like Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare and open enrollment all drive high volumes of customer contacts,” he says. “For many military spouses, especially those raising children, flexibility can often be the priority. This can be a good fit for call center positions that don’t always need to be on-site or have regular 9-5 hours.”

Building a pipeline

Some employers are taking it a step further and helping to develop the skills they need in their workforce. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Microsoft recently opened its first-ever Military Spouse Technology Academy class, a free pilot program modeled after the company's Software & Systems Academy for military veterans. The 22-week course offers students the skills needed to start an information technology career, as well as mentorship, resume development and a guaranteed job interview with Microsoft.

In this labor-driven hiring landscape, it makes sense to take advantage of this ready-made talent pool of attractive candidates. If you’d like to learn more about why and how to recruit military spouses, contact Aerotek now.