Saturday, June 21, 2014

Military Spouse Job hunt Part 2

In my first post here, I mentioned that I would post tips for success when it comes to military spouses looking for work. I am by no means an expert in employment. I've never worked as a recruiter or conducted an interview. I am an experienced Registered nurse, so most of my experience stems from healthcare related jobs.

First things first, make a good resume. Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. Your resume will be what gets you an interview and what draws an employer in. I've seen resumes that are too short and do not highlight important job accomplishments and dynamics. If you're a military spouse, chances are you're applying for a job not in the area where you currently work. The potential employer won't know the demographics of your current job and can't assume anything. They aren't going to hop on google either to sift through it. Try to be as specific as possible, highlight important areas, but don't write a novel. My husband is in the navy, and I know the "fleet and family" services offer help with resumes.

Secondly, write a cover letter. Even if the job says it's "optional," do one anyway. This is your opportunity to reach out and give some background information. Maybe you want to discuss some details of your job more in depth (for example, I talk about the patient population I'm experienced in working with here). A cover letter is not the place to mention that you're a military spouse or to talk about your personal life. Keep it professional.

When you're called for an interview, do your homework! Read up on the mission statement of the facility. Be familiar with the culture and some of the statistics. Know what accomplishments they have so you can easily reference them when asked "why do you want to work here." Also be familiar with some of the traditional interview questions and have some ideas on how to answer them. This includes strengths, weaknesses, "tell me about yourself," an example of you managing a conflict, etc. Don't memorize answers that come across too recited or polished though.

During interviews, I always have a pen and paper and take notes, especially when they are telling me details about their facility. This shows that you're genuinely interested and making note of the information they're sharing for future reference. Also, always ask for business card or at the least, an email address from the interviewers. This will be for your follow up thank you, as well as a resource if you think of additional questions you would like to ask after the interview.

Prepare questions for your employer! When they ask you what questions YOU have, the worst thing you can do is say "you've answered everything." This is another reason to do your homework before the interview. At the very least, you could ask about a prestigious award that was granted, and what involvement the staff had for this. You can ask about the overall morale of the unit/department and orientation schedule. You can ask them what their ideal candidate looks like. A simple google search will help you come up with some good questions!

After your interview, follow up with a thank you email. Specifically mention the facility, and reaffirm your desire to "join their team." State that you are available for any additional questions that may arise. 

Make sure you dress professionally, have extra copies of your resume, a business portfolio (if relevant to your job), and a smile! I can't emphasize this enough. I think showing enthusiasm and warmth draws employers in! Smiling is a strong form of nonverbal communication that I feel lightens the situation. Also, use a firm handshake and make eye contact when answering questions. Try to avoid stumbling on words, playing with a pen or something else, and saying "like," "um," and "yea." Be on your BEST, highest potential behavior! Exude confidence, but be humble and able to show you have room for growth and improvement. Emphasize what you have to offer! 

Best of luck!! I am VERY passionate about military spouses obtaining their own careers and professional lives, and would love to help in any way I can! Also, if you're looking for jobs keep an eye on USAjobs, as well as MSEP which specifically works with employers looking to hire military spouses. Just because we are called "dependents" does NOT mean we need to be totally reliant on our spouses! Military spouses can have a career, too!

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