The search for the right job can sometimes feel like driving on an open road with endless miles, rather than a short trip to your final destination. To keep from becoming discouraged, don’t let the uncertainty of the search blur your focus. The early part of the calendar year is a great time to map out your strategy and identify where to focus your efforts first. Before you even began planning, it’s helpful to understand that you’re not alone. A recent Hiring Our Heroes survey of military spouses revealed that 16% of spouses reported being unemployed. Here’s the good news: the late winter and early spring is an ideal time to reenergize your job search, refocus your approach, and land an interview or even a job.
Why Is Now a Good Time?
The first quarter of the calendar year (January, February, and March) is historically one of the best times of the year to get hired in most industries, for several reasons. Right now, employers are focused on returning to regular operations and tackling organizational goals for the New Year. This includes filling a backlog of job vacancies, replacing employees who left their positions after receiving their year-end bonuses, and hiring for new positions needed to work on the programs and goals planned for the calendar year.
The first quarter is also when most hiring budgets are released to human resources departments, so the money to hire fresh talent is now readily available. Many companies hire through a system of consensus and the first quarter is often when the largest number of decision makers are present in the office, allowing interviews and offers to be streamlined and processed faster.
What Should You Be Doing?
Keep Things Fresh
An obvious but critical starting point for a renewed job hunt is your resume. When was the last time you had it reviewed (if ever)? Does your resume need editing or possibly a total refresh? Revamping this most important piece of your professional profile can have immediate and fruitful results. Consider asking a trusted colleague or professional mentor for a critique on your resume’s format, overall design, and content. Each of these factors can play a role in your selection as a candidate (or lack thereof) and you want your resume to represent your best professional self. Seek out multiple opinions and don’t be hesitant to ask a former supervisor if they would be willing to give you tips for how best to elevate your resume.
Get Your Name Out There
“The vast majority of successful hires come from referrals or networking,” said Laura Schmiegel, Military Programs Lead and a Lead Associate for Booz Allen Hamilton. This is just one of many reasons why networking is not only important — it is essential to your job search. Schmiegel suggests military spouses can capitalize on their potential professional network by engaging the resources they already have. “Military spouses usually have wide-ranging networks, and thankfully now there are lots of programs that provide opportunities to network. In addition to nonprofits that cater to spouses and court employers who want to hire spouses, spouses should consider any events where potential employers will have time to talk. Booz Allen’s workforce is 1/3 military-connected, and the majority of our work is in Defense and Intelligence. We attend numerous military-related events throughout the year, including industry conferences and policy summits, to name a couple,” said Schmiegel.
Start today by sharing your career interests with your family and friends by asking them to keep you in mind when they learn of relevant job opportunities. From there, continue expanding your pool of connections by joining more targeted groups such as your school alumni associations, professional associations, and trade organizations.
Don’t overlook the opportunities that military spouses can offer one another when it comes to successful networking. Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network offers a robust community of like-minded career spouses who connect on topics and events centered around military spouse employment. Find a location near you by searching the more than 40 chapters in cities around the world.
Include networking activities as part of your weekly schedule, both online and in person, and remember that networking isn’t about asking for interviews. When done correctly, networking is a genuine effort to build relationships that can lead to future employment opportunities. Keep this in mind when you’re building your network and be sincere in your intentions. Fostering strong relationships can take time, but the payoffs can be career enhancing, as well as personally enriching.
Stay Focused and Don’t Give Up
Job-hunting is a job in itself, so take your task seriously and devote set times throughout your week to focus on your employment-related activities. Often, the most difficult step in the entire search process is getting started, but with thoughtful and purposeful steps in place before you begin, you stand a better chance of staying committed until you reach your goal. If your search stalls or your leads seem to dry up, don’t lose hope and remember that your plan is in place to push through challenges just like these. Continue seeking out new contacts, new skills, and new events to bring fresh people and new opportunities into your realm. Having these connections is also vital to keep you encouraged when job seeking gets tough. The right position is out there, and staying engaged in your search will give you every opportunity to find exactly where you are meant to be!