- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: Taking It to the Next Level

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Epes Transport

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You are a great supporter of the others in your life.

military spouse employment challengesIf you have children, you tell them to study hard so they can get into a good college one day.

You tell your active duty spouse to take advantage of the military tuition assistance program afforded by Uncle Sam.

You tell the soon-to-be-civilian in your life not to forget to use his post-uniform VA educational benefits before they expire.

You are a fabulous cheerleader who boldly encourages others on oh-so-many levels, but who encourages you?

Hopefully, the same team that you provide with never-ending support gives you the same in return. In any case, you should be front-and-center on your own sideline, cheering yourself on to professional greatness.

No one is more vested in your professional development than you. If you want to take your career to the next level, you have to dedicate some quality time and effort to your own goals.

Ditch the guilt. You’re worth it.

The following strategies can help you assess the possibilities:

Periodically self-assess your professional situation. Figure out where you are professionally and determine if that’s where you truly want to be. Too often, as the mobile lot we are inclined to be, we often end up working in second- and third-choice jobs of convenience rather than in careers that we really want to call our own.

After such a soul-searching assessment, if you determine that you aren’t where you would like to be, then take action.

Put a name on that job you want and figure out specifically how you are going to get it.

Don’t let the oft-lamented military spouse employment challenges of the active duty or transitioning variety turn into convenient excuses for why you can’t do something that you would really prefer.

Employment obstacles can be personal victories. Don’t let them stop you.

If you’re not sure where or how to figure all this out, consider paying a visit to your military installation’s family service center for guidance, or go online and check out the recently revamped services available though the Spouse Education and Careers Opportunities program (SECO) (

SECO offers a wide range of tools and resources to assist you in exploring career options in order to advance your education and find good jobs.

Do a skills check. Have your resume up to date. Identify your marketable skills and be sure they are showing up on your resume.

Even if it’s professionally painful for you to do so, determine what skills, if any, you may be lacking in order to secure the job of your choice, and then determine how you can obtain them.

Keep in mind that several different paths may be open to you. For example, you might be able to sign up for a single class or enroll in a certification program. Maybe a full-blown degree program is the best route. Or perhaps you can pick up the requisite skills on the job you have or obtain them by volunteering somewhere in your community.

Tap into the expertise of others. If you don’t have a mentor, consider getting one. Set up an informational interview with someone who is already working in the field you would like to enter. You can never have too much information or know too many people in your target career field.

Keep your big picture focused. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily events. When we do that, we often push those guiding lights of the professional variety out of our line of vision. That is a mistake. It’s important to continue moving forward. Keep your eyes on your goals, work hard and make adjustments, if necessary.

If it helps, keep a reminder near you that will encourage you to stay focused professionally. It could be picture of a diploma if you are working towards a degree or a template of a future business card that has your name and dream job title on it. Focus your attention on that vision you have crafted for yourself, and make it happen.

Janet Farley writes about career and workplace issues. She is the author of “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Inc., 2012) and “The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Job Choices for Mobile Lifestyles” (Impact Publications, 2012). Follow her on Twitter @smartjobchoices and @mil2civguide.

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