Unemployed and underemployed – the challenge for the military spouse
Being part of military life is honourable, exciting and diverse. It is also highly challenging and professionally, being married to the military can be detrimental to finding a job let alone holding a career down. With regular job changes, career gaps or changes, a military spouse CV can look busy at best, and viewed as uncommitted and reckless at worst.
A member of our Liquid Workforce, Kate Legg explains; “I was fed up with having to start over and say goodbye to colleagues. It is hard enough leaving friends when posted but leaving a job I love and work colleagues was starting to wear thin.”
In addition to this, there is a misconception that military spouses don’t want to work, preferring to stay at home, sing in the choir or make cakes for the bake sale. This Stepford wife ideology is both out-dated and insulting and it brings with it biases and discrimination.
Military spouses, as a group, suffer higher numbers of unemployment than their civilian counterparts. They are frequently overlooked and misunderstood yet have a vast range of skills that make them a hugely talented group. They come from diverse backgrounds and have life experiences beyond the usual. The majority are women – and mums – who are the continuity at home during long-term deployments by partners. They move their families regularly – sometimes to other countries. They have the ability to re-network into new communities. This offers a resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness unlike any others.
Rusila Halofaki, a Sourcing Specialist for BAE Systems (as part of our Liquid Workforce) has a typical work history for military spouses; “I wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps and become a high school teacher. I did that for a few years before moving into international marketing for a few years. I got married and moved to Cyprus to join my husband in his Army career. From Cyprus to Germany, I had administration roles and took a career break in Belgium before returning to the UK. Upon our return I took up the next available job working for the catering company in our camp before having to move again.”
Most of our candidates have degrees. Some are bilingual or trilingual. There are military spouses who are entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and more and in order to work, many take jobs they are overqualified for. CVs may look potted with job changes or gaps, but consider the skills developed in that time, and the reasoning behind them – commitment, resourcefulness, adaptability and resilience. Doesn’t that sound like an ideal employee?
Paul Modley, Global Talent Acquisition Director at Alexander Mann Solutions says, “in amongst this group of individuals there are numerous technical and transferable skills that employers are missing out on.”
However, the opportunity to work remotely and flexibly at a level representative of their experience, is a rarity. Recruit for Spouses work to enable employers to realise the quality of candidates they could have working for them – they bring real tangible benefits to businesses and when given the opportunity, this group of individuals thrive. As Paul Modley states “there is no complex formula that needs to be implemented to attract these individuals – it’s simply a case of shifting mindsets.”
We work with progressive businesses that want to have a positive influence in their recruitment and selection processes. They see the benefit of an agile, flexible workforce that display loyalty and adaptability to their changing environments. This underutilised talent pool of military spouses is here and is more than ready and able to work. They are hungry for the challenge, and Recruit for Spouses work tirelessly to bring these amazing individuals to the fore and provide them with the opportunity to show businesses what they are truly capable of – far more than a tray of cakes.