Articles by Doris

Employers Often Try to Employ Military Spouses

By Doris Appelbaum

Last winter, The Wall Street Journal Online featured an article by Sue Shellenbarger about employment opportunities for military spouses. This article paraphrases statements from that article.

Amid discussions on the war, some employers are helping soldiers' spouses find jobs. An increasing number of large corporations have begun actively seeking to hire the wives and husbands of armed-forces enlistees. In partnerships with branches of the military, companies like Boeing, Trammell Crow,  Dell and CVS  are signing agreements to improve employment opportunities for spouses, posting jobs on the Web for military families or setting up resume-sharing systems with military bases.

This development indicates a collapse of old prejudices against military spouses, who have been stereotyped as too transient or unskilled to be good employees. Approximately one-third of working military spouses are transferred each year, said the National Military Family Association, an Alexandria, Va. nonprofit. Military spouses also have been perceived as less-educated than their civilian counterparts, a bias proven incorrect by recent research. The Pentagon, recognizing that dissatisfied spouses contribute to driving the military's high attrition rates, has been strengthening employer interest by endorsing recruiting partnerships. "The decision to re-enlist is often made around the kitchen table," said a Defense Department spokesman.

Companies say they're satisfied with the results. Concentra Inc. of Addison, Texas, an operator of 300 occupational-health clinics, started interviewing military spouses via a not-for-profit hiring partnership it co-founded - Military Spouse Corporate Career Network. The applicants were  "good, qualified, solid candidates who are punctual, well-trained and well-educated," said Richard Parr, general counsel. Concentra has since hired over 40 military spouses in jobs ranging from data entry to physicians.

Jumping from employer to employer, following their spouses in multiple transfers, has doomed many military spouses to the perimeter of the working world. A study by Rand Corp. found military wives less likely to be employed than civilian wives, and they earn an average of  $5,500 to $7,400 less a year. The Rand study, based on Census data and interviews with over one thousand military spouses, also found military wives are better-educated, on average, than civilian wives. For example, the wife of a Marine Corps major has a bachelor's degree in physics but has had to reinvent herself continually during her family's seven moves in 15 years. She has taken jobs from finance manager and substitute teacher to administrative assistant, bank teller and systems administrator. While she stresses that she isn't complaining, she admits that her career is "not where I would be if we were a civilian family that had settled down and stayed" in one place.

The new recruiting partnerships are drawing some big, multi-state employers that can offer the "portable jobs" military spouses need. The Military Spouse Corporate Career Network, for example, has Concentra, Boeing, Trammell Crow, Magellan Health Services and Brass Ring, a human-resource information firm in Waltham, Mass., as partners -- plus the support of the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. It links job counselors on military bases with employers through information-sharing software. This allows employers to search spouses' resumes quickly, and encourages spouses to apply directly to member employers.

A venture between the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Adecco, a Melville, N.Y., staffing company, has placed over 12,000 military spouses in jobs since it began in 2002, an Adecco spokeswoman said. As employees of Adecco, the spouses are eligible for benefits and can transfer without losing vacation time or credit for experience.

A growing number of big employers are signing onto another plan, the Army Spouse Employment Program, agreeing to actively recruit military spouses and post jobs on a Web site, www.militaryspousejobsearch.org. One partner, pharmacy retailer CVS, with 5,200 stores, has interviewed over 1,000 military spouses and hired a majority of them into jobs ranging from $10-an-hour entry-level positions to  $80,000-a-year pharmacist jobs. Executives at other partner companies also report good results.

The Defense Department has a new venture with Military.com, a unit of online recruitment site Monster.com. The Web site www.military.com/spouse lists jobs from Monster.com, plus government jobs and openings from employers seeking to hire military spouses. Employers can scan military-spouse resumes, and spouses can search for job openings near their military bases by name.

Doris Appelbaum is Founder and CEO of Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is an  international career consultant, resume writer, educator, speaker, and trainer.  Doris can be reached at (414) 352-5994  - 1-800-619-9777 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - (414) 352-7495 (fax).  Visit her company’s website for FREE resume critiques as well as career and military transition advice: http://www.appelbaumresumes.com. 

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