Should you tell an interviewer you are a military spouse? The answer depends on you. There are many professionals that will tell you both yes and no.
I have always been worried about this situation. I have a fantastic education, I’ve traveled the world and I am a hard worker. Unfortunately, my resume looks like Swiss cheese. Being part of a military family can create gaps in your resume. Moving is just part of the experience and I’ve always had a hard time finding the right job.
There are those questions that military spouses fear in a job interview. Why did you choose to move here? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you have gaps in your resume and why are all of your jobs in different states? The recruiters I spoke with all had different answers.
These are average interview questions, but are they really fishing to see if you are a military spouse? It is illegal to ask an interviewee if they are a military spouse so there are some people that use these types of questions to get around it. My biggest fear in saying I was a milspouse was that they would skip past my other qualifications and see me as someone who is going to leave in a short time. Why hire me when they know they’ll be back searching for another person soon?
I would avoid any mention of the military during job interviews for this reason.
My answers would be that I moved to the area because I loved what it had to offer and I was looking for a place to put down roots. Why did I move so much and change jobs often or have gaps in my resume? I loved to travel and learn new things that would prepare me for the right career instead of just a job. At the time, I thought they were great answers and that I had side-stepped the questions. When I got the job I would always feel guilty that I didn’t tell them that I was a military spouse. They would find out all too soon that I was and surprisingly they have never been upset.
That’s when I realized that being part of the military family was not something I should hold back, but a great asset that I should utilize in an interview. Next time you are faced with these questions consider saying that being a milspouse has made you a flexible team player, a quick learner, a problem-solver and the person that they are going to hire.
Don’t worry too much about the interviewer focusing on the likelihood that you will be leaving in a few short years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average number of years workers typically stay with a job, as reported in September 2014, was 4.6 years. Turnover is high these days as the younger generation chooses to explore different jobs and opportunities.
If you do want to get a leg up on the competition there is a program, Military Spouse Preference (MSP), which is designed to help spouses stay in the workforce and find jobs easier when PCSing. It only applies to positions with the Department of Defense (DoD) and for military spouses who meet specific criteria. There are two types of federal employment within the DoD. These include civil service or Appropriated Fund and Non-Appropriated Fund. Those that make the short list of candidates for a job are given preference. If a federal position with the DoD is something you are interested in, utilize this program.
For tools beyond Monster.com and Craigslist, use military spouse specific search engines when looking for a job. Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) is there to help you hone your skills and find the right job.
MSEP, a targeted recruitment and employment solution, creates employment connections that provide companies with direct access to military spouses seeking career opportunities and spouses with direct access to employers who are actively recruiting. MSEP currently has more than 220 partners, who have hired over 60,000 military spouses.
Don’t be part of the 25 percent of military spouses that are looking for employment but haven’t found a job just because you are afraid of saying, or not saying, in an interview that you are a milspouse.