Having to move quite often doesn't allow for a lot of civilian job stability. The U.S. Army understands the toll constant moving unleashes on military spouses who work outside the home. For this reason, the Army has established an intricate support model to assist military spouses who need / want employment. This program offers classes, counseling and job listings for military spouses to review. The government also gives preference to military spouses when they apply to work directly for the government. But it still takes effort on the part of the military spouse. Nothing is handed to them and without their effort, they will not find gainful employment.
Executive Order 13473
President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13473, giving military spouses preferential treatment when applying for certain government jobs. Many people misunderstand this order. EO 13473 does not provide blanket approval to military spouses to take all the jobs. This order applies only to noncompetitive positions and only in a few cases — when a spouse relocates with her active duty spouse to a particular duty station, when the military soldier, retired or separated, is disabled or when the spouse is a widow of a soldier killed on active duty. The spouse must meet the qualifications of the job. The noncompetitive positions are restricted to certain categories of people, including veterans and displaced government employees. There remains a multitude of competitive jobs all U.S. citizens can apply for.
Employment Readiness Program
The Army has sanctioned an Employment Readiness Program to assist Army dependents in their job search. Each installation has an Employment Readiness office staffed with job counselors to help family members. The program is designed to mold military dependents into more competitive candidates. The program offers resume, computer and interview preparation classes. Remember, this is not a staffing agency and finding a job will not be as easy as you might think. The program does provide a list of open positions, but you must apply appropriately and go through the same application process as anybody else in a similar category. For example, if a government job is posted offering spousal preference, you would apply and compete with other military spouses who have preference. If the job is located in the city, you would compete just like anybody else.
Workshops / Classes
The Army offers workshops for family members to better understand the employment process. Workshop leaders discuss interview preparation and proper techniques. They also review wardrobe essentials and critique resumes to ensure they will catch the eye of a hiring manager. These workshops are free to military families and can be highly informative. However, it is up to you to apply the principles. These classes are taught by skilled job placement counselors. They know what they're talking about.
You can also take advantage of free classes and free computer program instruction. For example, most employment offices offer typing tutorials and typing tests. Depending on the installation, you can learn the basics of Microsoft Office and QuickBooks. The program also helps assist you in your job search strategy. It all begins with a plan. Make sure you have one.
The Army welcomes volunteers. Securing a volunteer position can help you find a paying job. Volunteering helps establish who you are and how well you work. Depending on how long you can go without pay, volunteering is a smart move. You can study your surroundings and decide if you want to work in a particular area of the base. You might begin a volunteer position, hoping you can find employment, only to realize you don't care for that particular work setting. It happens. Check with your installation's Army Volunteer Corp office for more details.
Being a military family member does not guarantee you employment. A government employee who is a military spouse does not leave one job and walk into another on a red carpet. She might get lucky and quickly land a job, but it still takes work. Registering with the Employment Readiness Office will not put you in a job either. It helps, but you have make the effort. When taking advantage of the Army's job placement programs, consider applying to national companies who are military friendly. You might stand a chance of transferring to a local office in the city of your next duty station.
- University of California Santa Barbara: Executive Order 13473 - To Authorize Certain Noncompetitive Appointments in the Civil Service for Spouses of Certain Members of the Armed Forces
- U.S. Army: Job Placement Programs Help Military Spouses; Rachel Ponder; August 2011
- Veterans' Administration: Competitive vs. Noncompetitive Hiring
- U.S. Army Fort Jackson: Employment Readiness Program - What is the Employment Readiness Program [ERP]?
- Tobyhanna Army Depot: Employment Readiness Program ERP
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.