Being a military spouse is like a juggling act of the most extreme. But all that balancing of constant deployments, kid schedules, frequent transitions, navigating new environments, and perpetual uncertainties can actually (and silently) develop some incredible soft skills. And if you’re thinking about your career, you should know that those soft skills can make you an invaluable asset to almost any professional team.
Whether you are preparing for performance evaluation, fortifying your resume, or on the job hunt, identifying your professional strengths as a military spouse is a good way to self-assess, and stand out amongst the crowd.
In this article, we are going to cover how to communicate those strengths and position yourself as a hidden treasure in the workforce.
Before we begin, let’s dispel a widespread myth: hiring a military spouse is risky because they cannot commit for the long-term. In actuality, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that military spouse tenure widely correlates with the general population.
Add that to the fact that military spouses generally have more education than the general population as well, and it seems unusual why the military spouse community would have an unemployment rate of almost 25%.
So how do you combat this?
By making sure employers realize what you have to offer.
Recognize the soft skills military spouses bring to the table
You may be the new kid on the block more than you would like, but it’s those challenges that make you a powerful asset in the workforce. The obstacles of military life create soft skills that pack a punch and are difficult to replicate. Some of the natural soft skills military spouses cultivate that employers seek include:
Problem Solving: Whether you are trying to figure out how to get a family of four, plus two dogs and a cat from the East Coast to an island in Japan or coordinate a corporate event, military spouses know how to think critically and solve any problem. This is an invaluable skill in the workplace and one that almost all employers actively seek.
Dependability: Nothing showcases dependability like sacrificing your life plan to support the person you love. You do this without question, without knowing the full picture, and without knowing if you will be alone for long periods of time. When a military spouse says they will be dependable, they mean it.
Resourcefulness: Military spouses are rockstars at using what you have to get the job done. Time and time again you move to new homes with bare walls and limited resources. You know how to repurpose, strategize, and craft to save both money and time. You are exceptionally savvy at being resourceful and creative when accomplishing a task.
Calm Under Pressure: There is no doubt that military spouses have practice in staying calm under pressure. The ability to be of sound mind during a crisis is probably something you are familiar with, and when the going gets tough, you keep going.
Flexibility: How many times have you been told one thing, only to have another thing happen? One of the military spouses on our team likes to use the quote “Nothing is 100% until it’s already happened.” Things change on a dime in military life and this makes military spouses undeniably flexible.
Self-Starting: You are the master go-getters. You are used to taking charge and getting stuff done, often with little guidance or certainty. You take initiative and can follow through on any given task independently and without supervision.
Take a personality assessment
Personality assessments are phenomenal self-awareness tools that boost your understanding of yourself and give you objective insight into your strengths and weaknesses and can be a great tool in identifying your professional strengths as a military spouse.
Do you know the power of your personality? It sounds like a simple question, but it is heavily loaded. Knowing who you are as a person can help you communicate and engage with others on a higher level.
One of the most widely recognized personality assessments is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is backed by more than 70 years of research and developed using solid psychological theory. As a military spouse, you are eligible to take the assessment at no cost through the SECO program.
Listen to what others are saying
Ask people who really know you – a close friend, a current or former coworker, your spouse, or a family member what they would describe as your strengths. These are the people who know why you are brilliant, amazing, and exceptional, and what you could possibly work on.
Asking someone you trust to help you identify your professional strengths as a military spouse can help you gain clarity on your natural strengths and talents that you may not have picked up on. If you aren’t comfortable directly asking someone, just listen. What do people most compliment you on? These insights will help you with identifying your strengths as a military spouse, even those that seem hidden to you.
Build on your passions and self-knowledge
Within your passions lie great strengths. Most people aren’t passionate about something that is a weakness. Most people who despise running don’t sign up to run marathons. Inwardly looking at the things that you enjoy versus what drains your energy is a great way to identify the blueprint of your professional strengths.
Regardless of your career field, self-knowledge, leveraging, and identifying your professional strengths as a military spouse are critical pathways to professional growth and success. Military spouses are often challenged with situations the general population will never encounter and they bravely defy the odds against them every single day. You can do the same in your career journey.
Looking for a career that can go with you wherever life as a military spouse takes you? Check out our jobs page.