By Leigh Searl, Military Spouse
Thriving in a Virtual World of Military Spouse Employment
Military spouses are a unique subset of American culture. They move ten times more than the average person, facing challenges the average person does not have to face. The distinctive characteristics of a military life are what make military spouses the most resilient, hardworking and dedicated people you’ll ever meet. Yet, their unemployment rate is three times that of their civilian counterparts. This high unemployment rate is directly attributed to the nomadic military lifestyle. But it doesn’t mean military spouses can’t have a professional career alongside their active duty spouse. All it takes is a little know-how, creativity, tenacity and a willingness to work virtually.
How to Get Started On A Virtual Career
Finding virtual employment is not as easy as it sounds. First of all, there are many “work from home” scams out there, asking you to invest money, or to provide your personal information. They say things such as, “You can make $5,000/month just by taking a survey!” These ploys are a waste of your valuable time and will only make you more frustrated in your job search.
As you begin your search, be sure to visit reputable websites where employers know serious job seekers look to find employment. Check out sites where employers have pay to post a position or those websites that cater to remote jobs like Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or FlexJobs.com.
Here are a few things to note when searching for a virtual job:
1) In the “What” search box section, search remote, virtual or telework. These keywords will narrow down your search and pull virtual jobs for you to view. Searching remote or virtual in the location search box doesn’t always provide a quality search which can leave you confused or empty-handed.
2) Telework jobs generally require the employee to travel to certain locations or an office setting on a recurring basis. There will be times when you as the employee would be required to visit a physical office location, which may require a drive or flight to the destination. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting before you take the job.
3) Pay particular attention to the language of the job posting as some jobs require travel within a certain territory. While this is advertised as a remote job, you are still required to live in a particular area which can be problematic for military spouses.
4) Some fields offer remote work more frequently than others. Human resources and IT are some of the most common industries advertising virtual positions. Focusing your education and experience in these fields could provide you with an incredibly successful and rewarding remote career.
Musts for Success
Having a virtual career is different than having a traditional office job. First, and most importantly, you have to be comfortable working alone. Virtual employment can be pretty quiet. If you are comfortable in this setting, then it can be a welcome opportunity.
Second, it is imperative to have a solid understanding of whether or not you are a procrastinator. This personality type will struggle in a virtual setting because it’s very easy to get distracted. Due to the fact there is no direct supervision you have to know yourself and your abilities to focus, regardless of surrounding circumstances. You have to be a highly organized, focused and diligent person to be successful in a virtual career.
Last, you have to be dependable. Employers that hire virtual employees are entrusting you with a great deal of responsibility. So, it is important to understand there is a heightened level of trust involved and to treat that trust with the utmost respect.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Go after jobs that you are passionate about, jobs that excite you. Employers are looking for virtual employees who want to be part of their team, not just an employee. This is even more important as a virtual employee. It’s similar to the camaraderie of soldiers in a unit. If the soldier doesn’t want to be a part of the unit, the unit suffers. Avoid the trap of just “getting a job to get a job” because neither you nor your employer will be happy. Dig deep and determine what you really want to do with your career and go after it. In doing so, you will be far more rewarded both personally and professionally. In turn, the employer will realize greater productivity.
Virtual employment is a fairly new trend. Not all companies advertise these opportunities but rest assured they are out there. If you have a traditional job and are about to PCS, ask your employer about continuing to work remotely. Finding and having a virtual career can be a great solution to military spouse unemployment. Because regardless of where the military sends us, we can continue to pursue our own virtual career.
Need a Little Help Getting Started?
If you are interested in having assistance in finding a remote career that is right for you, contact America’s Career Force, Inc, a non-profit that is dedicated to connecting military spouses with remote, portable careers. Similar to PCSgrades, America’s Career Force is an organization by military spouses for military spouses, connecting career-minded military spouses with businesses across the America.
Leigh Searl has been a military spouse for 13 years, moving ten times. Through it all, she has continued to retain a professional focus wherever the Army sent her family. She currently is the Vice President of Business Development and a New York licensed real estate salesperson for The Nassimi Group. As founder of America’s Career Force, she is using her business savvy and advocacy skills to help other military spouses find long-term, remote career opportunities.