Job Search Resources for Veterans and Military Spouses

Written by Amy McDermott, Chief Development Officer of Project Sanctuary

With the U.S. economy growing at a rapid clip, employment opportunities for veterans abound.  In fact, the United States Department of Labor reported just a 3% veteran unemployment rate for July 2018. Significant efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and coalitions of businesses around the country to hire veterans have resulted in near-optimal conditions for veterans to find meaningful jobs.

Kristen Cargill, a representative from Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, (left) speaks with New York Army Guard soldier 1st Lt. John Scott (right) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair held at the New York National Guard armory.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta, JFHQ, New York Army National Guard)

The challenge for many veterans ready to enter the civilian workforce now is how to package their considerable skills and experience to position themselves for the most desirable and best fitting opportunities. Translating military training and experience into skillsets that civilian employers will understand can seem daunting, but it’s a challenge veterans are increasingly better equipped to take on, using focused resources like these.

  • Hire Heroes USA offers individualized career coaching and support services free of charge to veterans. Transition Specialists work virtually with veterans one-on-one, providing expert resume writing, interview coaching and connections to volunteers in the workplace for mock interviews and mentorship.  Hire Heroes USA also maintains a job board housing tens of thousands of jobs from vetted employers.
  • Easterseals provides comprehensive veteran employment services through 72 local affiliates in communities nationwide. Employment programs through Easterseals include personalized skills training, job search assistance, employment preparation and guidance.  Additionally, Easterseals has partnered with the Direct Employers Association, an organization of more than 800 employers who want to hire veterans, to provide a job search portal at easterseals.jobs.
  • Veterans Jobs Mission: The Veterans Jobs Mission is a coalition of companies committed to hiring veterans. The coalition’s site provides a list and descriptions of all the companies involved and jobs available at those firms organized by industry and geographic region. Veterans Jobs Mission also provides links to other resources, including other military career transition programs and a downloadable field guide to help veterans successfully build a civilian career. As of March 31, 2018, the coalition has hired almost 456,000 veterans.
  • First Command, a Project Sanctuary supporter, has made military-focused hiring their strategy since their founding in 1958. They consistently rank among the nation’s top employers for veterans and military spouses.

While the mission to help our nation’s veterans find meaningful employment has finally gained traction, military spouse employment remains a significant challenge for active duty and veteran spouses.  Two-thirds of U.S. families with children under 18 years old earn two incomes, but less than half (47%) of military families with a civilian spouse reported the same, according to the 2017 Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey. In fact, the military spouse unemployment rate among respondents to the Blue Star Families survey is 28%, a 33% increase from last year.  Military families are increasingly concerned about spouse employment: 43% of military spouses and 28% of active duty members surveyed agreed that spouse employment is a top concern and stressor.

Why is it so difficult for military spouses to find good jobs?  Regular relocation as their active duty spouse gets moved around the country – and the world – is one reason, and barriers to transferring licensure required for employment, such as teaching or medical licenses, are another.  Helpfully, resources are emerging that aim to make finding meaningful employment a successful endeavor for military spouses. We’ve put together a list of some of the most ambitious resources:

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Hiring Our Heroes program has launched #hire100Kmilitaryspouses, a national call-to-action campaign for companies across America to commit to hiring 100,000 military spouses in three years. The employer-led coalition has inspired more than 2400 companies to join the commitment, including major employers such as Hilton, Starbucks, Microsoft, USAA, Comcast and Hospital Corporation of America.
  • Hire Heroes USA also provides its comprehensive and personalized transition support services free of charge to military spouses. Spouses have access to individualized coaching, mentorship opportunities, mock interviews and resume writing support.
  • LinkedIn has expanded its military and veterans program to include military spouses. LinkedIn now offers spouses one year of LinkedIn premium free of charge during each move to a new installation, and again upon completion of military service. This subscription includes access to LinkedIn’s library of more than 12,000 LinkedIn Learning courses, including a newly-launched learning path to help military spouses succeed in flexible, freelance or remote positions.
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