By: Susan Fallon Brown, VP Global Strategy and Business Development, Monster and Military.com
May 6, 2019
It’s no secret—the current labor market is stronger than it has been in years. Employers are in hot pursuit of the right fit for their open positions but may be overlooking one of our most capable and untapped talent communities: military spouses.
Military spouses represent an incredible depth of technical skills and capabilities and bring to the table an added level of diversity, resiliency, determination, focus and leadership skills—all of which can help accelerate an organization’s ability to meet its business goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, as documented in recent studies from Blue Star Families and the US Chamber of Commerce, military spouses are unemployed at four times the national unemployment rate.
Even more of these spouses are underemployed—working in part-time or seasonal jobs while seeking a full-time role, accepting positions that require less skill or responsibility than previous roles, or being hired into jobs those that don’t fully utilize their education or experience.
At Monster and Military.com, we spend a lot of time connecting with veterans and their families to discuss employment opportunities and career challenges.
We understand that military spouses have difficulties finding meaningful work in today’s job market, but wanted to know more. Specifically, we wanted to learn more about the challenges that military spouses face when looking for a job, and what they think they need from employers to determine if a position is a right fit for them.
This resulted in our military spouse employment survey, revealing a few key findings of what challenges they face when seeking new opportunities, including:
- Seven in 10 (71%) respondents found it difficult to establish a clear career path and believed achieving upward mobility is difficult with the constant moves.
- Two in three respondents (65%) believe it is difficult to find a job that takes their military lifestyle into account.
- While 52% of respondents viewed military spouse status as a benefit to employment, 45% viewed it as a barrier, and 53% choose not to disclose it at all when applying for a job.
So, how can employers better connect with military spouses and utilize their talents?
Promote your organization’s military-friendly programs
The first step is to brand your organization “military friendly” and make it apparent you’re invested in hiring veterans, transitioning military, and military spouses. Whether through content on your organization’s career site, via HR materials, or partnerships with non-profit organizations, it’s important to highlight the veterans and military spouses in your workforce, as well as everything your organization is doing to hire this talent.
Consider flexibility, portability, and childcare
The second step is taking action and making your organization become more accommodating. While they don’t need to be looked at as a cause, military spouses do need a bit of flexibility from their employers.
In order to position opportunities in a way that seems appealing and attainable for military spouses, employers must review what positions can be made to be portable or flexible. By creating more versatile, portable positions, jobs can move with the spouse as they move with the military.
Additionally, many military spouses are the primary caretakers for their families, so employers should consider improving access to childcare, whether via onsite care or locating worksites near childcare facilities.
Make your jobs easy for military families to find
Lastly, employers must be sure they’re posting their open positions in the appropriate locations for military spouses to find them. When surveyed, 63% said they use online job searches, creating an opportunity for private and non-public entities to work together. Most (60%) use searches in addition to seeking help from family and friends, while fewer than 19% turn to military career services. It’s important for employers to keep this in mind when they decide where to advertise their military spouse job opportunities.
Monster and Military.com have a long-standing commitment to military spouse employment. As an underutilized talent pool in today’s workforce, military spouses can apply invaluable expertise to a variety of positions, including short-term contracts and long-term salaried positions.
Our focus is to help bridge the gap between employers and job candidates as well as to help organizations fill open positions with dynamic, capable talent. And, we strongly believe the wives, husbands, and partners of members of the military are just that.
Susan Fallon Brown is a vice president of Global Strategy and Business Development at Monster and Military.com. She was raised in a Navy family, is the wife of a Marine Corps veteran and is the proud sibling of several military family members. Susan is active on numerous national boards and advisory programs that support strong workforces and the military and veteran community.