Applying for a job can be one of the scariest things on the planet–especially if you aren’t sure how to make a resume that reflects your success despite having gaps in employment. As military spouses, we often have duty stations where working isn’t in the cards for us or our family. And it’s not uncommon for many military spouses to take time out of the workforce to raise a family or care for one during a deployment or overseas assignment. But if you’re starting to look for work again, it’s important to make sure that your resume is up to date and showcases your best assets. In order to do that, it’s important to address the gaps and fill them appropriately. Here are three tips on how to do that.
List Relevant Jobs
If you’re applying for a position but haven’t head that particular role before, list the relevant jobs you have held that can show your growth. For example, if you’re applying for a manager position but you haven’t been a manager before, IT’S OK. You can still apply. Your resume should reflect the positions you’ve held that show your growth and success. For example, if you worked at a coffee house and were the Shift Lead, that’s a manager position. If you’ve helped train a new employee, that’s training and mentoring experience. If you have been in charge of an event or a project, that’s management experience that your potential employer will want to know about. Even if you were an assistant to someone, you had a mentor to watch and teach you how to step in when they couldn’t. Just because you haven’t held the title of “manager” to date, it doesn’t mean that your experiences in the workplace haven’t helped you get to that role.
Talk About Experiences From Home/Volunteer Work
So what if you don’t have work experience that showcases those skills? It doesn’t mean you don’t have them! Talk about what kinds of experiences you do have. If Stay-At-Home Mom was your role for the past decade, talk about it. Don’t put something silly like “Mom In Chief” on the resume, but do highlight that you organized activities on base, for the school, or for your church. Talk about your role or position in the PTO, on a community board, or even your volunteer work. Share your experiences of a PCS, orchestrating a DITY move showcases a plethora of skills from a contractor, to operations manager, to event planner, to logistics. Have you organized something in your neighborhood or on Post? Those types of soft skills show dedication, hard work, a range of skills and experiences, and resilience that other candidates might not have.
Utilize Your Skills
What are these soft skills and why are they important to potential employers? Soft skills are the personality traits that you’ll bring to the table in a potential career. Everyone has skills and talents that help them succeed in daily life. Things like great communication and writing ability, resiliency, and adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership are all things that employers will look for in a candidate. As a military spouse, your daily routine encompasses ALL of these skills, and you probably have a few stories and examples to showcase each one.
Other than soft skills, you might have talents and skills that you learned in high school or college from being on the debate team (researching and communicating) or being on the soccer team (leader and teamwork). You might think of those activities as a past time and not a skill, but if you think about it, you’ll be able to find something from those experiences that have followed you into your life today. Think about what you learned, how you grew, and how you still use those skills and talents today. You can even showcase your ability to homeschool your kids during a deployment while maintaining a role on the school board. Those time-management and task-oriented skills are key to many positions and speak volumes to potential employers.
Gaps in employment sound scary, and often times, we let them get in the way of applying for a position. And while some employers are only looking for a person who has X number of years in a role, other employers could be inspired by your many experiences as a military spouse and the many things you’ve learned along the way. Don’t let the gaps stop you. Take control of them. You were doing something during that gap, and it was worthy. Tell them about it.