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Military spouses can use challenges to get a leg up in job hunt
Military families face a plethora of unique challenges as they routinely relocate, making it difficult for a spouse to find work. - photo by

Military families face a plethora of unique challenges as they routinely relocate, making it difficult for a spouse to find work.

"About 68 percent of military spouses feel that the military has a negative impact on their career ambitions, 61 percent of all military spouses are unemployed, and 52 percent would like to be employed," reported the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

But workshops and job fairs are telling military spouses how to use those challenging circumstances to their advantage.

Although employers may see military spouses’ high mobility as a negative factor, this perceived “flaw” actually makes military spouses one of the most adaptable groups in society, wrote Laura Dempsey forthe U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation website.

Hiring Our Heroes was launched in 2011 as a nationwide effort to help military spouses, active service members and veterans find employment. The initiative has hosted "780 job fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, and 24,000 men and women have been hired by more than 1,500 businesses," WJCL News reported.

At a recent "2014 Military Spouse Symposium, Keeping a Career on the Move" at Camp Lejeune, N.C., panelists discussed the various difficulties many military spouses face while constantly relocating. Attendees also participated in workshops on topics such as resume development and how to expand their professional skills.

"A military family can move, typically, every one to three years. The focus of today is to really help them cross those barriers and be prepared to overcome those challenges. Today, we are focusing on every aspect of getting you out of the door and to that first interview,” Christine Gallagher, deputy director at the Military Officers Association of America, told the attendees, according to the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System's website.

Carol Fishman Cohen compiled a list of tips for military spouses returning to work. On the National Military Spouse Network, she suggested job applicants highlight unique areas of expertise and skills such as emotional resilience, taking advantage of the experience a military spouse develops dealing with uncertainty and the ability to quickly adapt to continuous transition.

She also mentioned that most military spouses can use the "no benefits required" card as a way to negotiate their employment, and volunteer work would allow spouses to maximize their professional network.

"All of the skills, all of the talents, all of the knowledge that you gather as you move shapes who you are and makes you a more adaptable, versatile employee. I think employers recognize that it is actually an amazing attribute," said Jessica Montagna, a military spouse and symposium speaker quoted in theDefense Video & Imagery Distribution System report.