MilitaryTransitionNews.com - The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Four Job Hunting Tips for the Former Stay-At-Home Spouse

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

Share |

Article Sponsored by: Lipscomb University

Return to November/December 2014 Issue

It is often said that when a door closes, a window opens in its place. At least, that’s how I explained it to my friend Anna, a stay-at-home mom who struggled with creating a resume after having been out of the job market for 16 years. Anna and her Marine husband recently transitioned to the Northern Virginia area from OCONUS. While her spouse landed a decent paying civilian job, they were no longer receiving the Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) and cost of living benefits that she and her family had become accustomed to in recent years. In short, they needed a second income and creating a resume for Anna was the first step to reaching it.

As many a stay-at-home spouse will attest, it’s not easy to create a resume when you haven’t been paid for your services for a lengthy period of time. Here are four tips for the former stay-at-home spouse:

1. Select the best resume format

Like it or not, there isn’t just one way to write a resume. Some formats will work better for you than others, depending upon your circumstances. If you haven’t been in the workforce lately, then you don’t want a resume that screams you’ve been unemployed for a long period of time. In this case, consider writing a combination format resume that highlights your skills and abilities over your work history. The key here would be to identify the marketable skills you have that are relevant to the job you want.

Your work history, if applicable, could be included on the resume as well, just not predominantly. Move that section to the end of the resume with minimal details such as job title, employer and from _ to _ years or even number of years versus a timeline. If you have consistently volunteered while being unemployed, however, you may still find a chronological format will suffice. In that case, you would treat your volunteer work experience as you would paid experience (see #2).

2. Treat your volunteer experience as paid work experience

You didn’t get paid for it, but you may have volunteered in schools or elsewhere in your community. Value that experience and treat it as you would any work experience, whether you were paid for it or not. Consider the following examples of how volunteer jobs translate into valuable work experience and how they could be showing up on your resume:

As a volunteer you:

Chaired a PTA committee

Show on your resume as:

Project Management/Supervision

As a volunteer you:

Raised money for a new playground

Show on your resume as:

Fundraising/Event Planning

As a volunteer you:

Coached a sports team

Show on your resume as:

Team Building

As a volunteer you:

Created flyers or wrote a newsletter

Show on your resume as:

Marketing/Publicity

As a volunteer you:

Shuffled paperwork

Show on your resume as:

Administration

As a volunteer you:

Answered the phones

Show on your resume as:

Customer Service

3. Get busy now

If you want to find a job, start working on your resume now. If you’re not already volunteering meaningfully somewhere and you can manage the logistics, do it. That automatically becomes a current working entry on your resume. You’re not unemployed anymore. Isn’t that great?

4. Adopt a healthy mindset

Returning to the workforce after any kind of substantial break can be overwhelming, and you may experience your fair share of fears, on both personal and professional levels. Dealing with all those fears and impending changes is easier when you have a healthy mindset. It may help to take a deep breath and adopt a new mantra: Change is good. I’ve got this.

Whatever happened to my dear friend, Anna? Despite her extended absence from the workforce, she managed to pull together a decent resume that highlighted her volunteer work experience through the years and her recent graduation from college. She attended a few job fairs and now has several interviews lined up. It’s just a matter a time before she’ll land a great job, and so can you if you’re truly ready for it.

Janet Farley is the author of Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc., 2012). Follow her blog “Life’s Too Short to Hate Your Job” at www.janetfarley.wordpress.com and Resume Rx at www.janetfarley2013.wordpress.com.

Return to November/December 2014 Issue