It is a well-known fact that military spouses suffer from underemployment and unemployment. Finding a portable job feels like a search for a Unicorn. There are three employers on military bases where military spouses may be able to find the unicorn job.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)
The military service branches have MWR offices at most post locations. These offices are funded by non-appropriated funds, meaning they are not tied to or pending Congressional budgets. The funds for employment are made by the facility’s funds themselves. MWR locations include movie theaters, daycares, on-base restaurants, and bowling alleys. When you go to an event or participate in these activities, those funds go directly to an employee there. Knowing the challenges of the military lifestyle, there are often flexible and regular positions available.
MWR positions are posted on usajobs.gov. You can search specifically by military installation. Positions specifically on Air Forces bases are posted at nafjobs.org.
Specifically for military spouses who move frequently, there are two hiring incentives – spouse preference and reinstatement.
The job posting will indicate if a spouse can receive preferential hiring. If the spouse preference is used, proof of marriage through a marriage certificate, orders, and a copy of the ID card will need to be sent along with the job application. Spouse preference and application for positions can be sent up to 30 days in advance of the report date.
Reinstatement occurs when a spouse that previously held an MWR position at one military installation applies for another job at the next military post. This does not happen automatically. The military spouse needs to submit an application to the new location, and their name is kept on a referral list. If a job of the same pay grade or below opens, they may receive a call about an open position.
Marine Corps Community Services, Air Forces’ Force Support Squadron, and Army Community Service are resources for families in their new military post. Job positions within the community services are similar to MWR – ranging from bowling alleys, movie theaters, and restaurants to the military stores on post. Like MWR, there is a military spouse preference program. If the position has the spouse preference, the spouse can select it and send in the required paperwork with the application.
Job postings are military installation specific. For example, if living near MCAS Miramar, you could search “MCCS Miramar job postings” for the specific job board for Marine Corps Community Services on MCAS Miramar. Always check your bases’ social media pages for job fairs, sometimes they offer interviews on the spot.
U.S. Government/Department of Defense (DOD)
The military needs a large support system. There are many positions and jobs for civilians to help and support the military mission. There is a Military spouse preference (MSP) program which is a specific federal hiring authority that was created with the goal of lessening career interruption for military spouses and allow spouses to noncompetitively be considered for federal employment.
The jobs are posted on usajobs.gov and will list if MSP can be utilized. This is not the same as veteran preference. For more specific information on the program or on applying for a position, contact the local Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Office. Use your favorite search engine to look up the nearest one. If there are several bases near you, look for the biggest base and enter that in the search bar with the term “Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Office.”
With Government Service (GS) positions, an employee may be able to transfer to a position of similar grade. The employee must have passed the probationary period of 52 weeks prior to applying for a transfer. There are some positions that are restricted to veterans only, so if you are looking at open positions at the next duty station, make sure there isn’t a veteran-only preference unless that specification applies to you.
Military spouses continue to face challenges on the employment front. There are three on-base resources available that may provide spouse preference. Check out your base MWR, Community Services or even DOD positions.