Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success


Finding meaningful employment in today’s new global workplace.

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ISBN: 1-57023-269-5 (10-digit), 978-157023-269-5 (13-digit)

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“Military spouses often sacrifice personal career goals by accepting low paying, limited jobs to fit in with their spouse’s career, so it’s refreshing to see a guide geared to military spouse career objective and special concerns. From creating a great, changing network to using military resource programs effectively, The Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success is a fine guide any military spouse will find very useful.”
The Midwest Book Review

By Janet I. Farley

Today’s global and mobile work environment is great news for thousands of military spouses who seek meaningful employment. For them, the days of simply volunteering within the military community or “settling” for any job have been replaced by real career options.

This book helps military spouses develop and implement an effective job search campaign and successfully manage their careers despite the many challenges associated with the military lifestyle. Packed with useful resources, inspirational stories, and practical career tools, the book assists military spouses whether they are new to the workforce, returning after a break, or already well established in a career field.

Covers everything from resume writing to starting a business. Whether users are married to an active-duty, reserve, or retired soldier, sailor, airman, or marine, this book offers practical information that can be immediately used for finding jobs and launching professional careers. 208 pages. 6 x 9. Softcover. January 2008.


  1. New Game, New Rules
  2. Setting the Stage for Success
  3. Mobile and Global Career Options
  4. Creating and Maintaining an Adaptable Resume
  5. Letters, Lists, and Application Forms
  6. Nailing the Job Interview From Start to Finish
  7. Evaluation and Negotiating Job Offers
  8. Managing Your Career Through Changing Times

Make no mistake about it. If you marry into the military, you learn, sooner, rather than later, that daily life as the spouse of a service member won’t be quite as glorious as the day you actually became one.

Personal and professional sacrifices of military spouses, particularly where our careers are concerned, end up being the norm rather than the exception. In our strange camouflaged dimension of existence, this is somehow acceptable. Blame it on love or insanity. It is what it is.


What it isn’t, however, is business as usual. The inconveniences of the typical sacrifices are overshadowed by the fact that the U.S. is presently a nation at war. It is an inescapable reality with far-reaching implications. Even when the war is thankfully past us, it will still have a definitive place in our lives whether we want it to or not.

Positioned on center stage, spouses today have faced unprecedented multiple deployments in a world of significantly increased military operational tempo. These repeated family separations have become business as usual rather than the occasional disruption to family life. The impact on families has been more than significant, resulting in soaring stress levels experienced not only by our service members but by spouses and children as well.

Where employment is concerned, military spouses have been particularly affected. Some have made the decision to put their jobs and careers on hold in order to be more available on the home front for their family members in the absence of their deployed service member.

In other cases, a forced return to work or increased emphasis on becoming the primary breadwinner has materialized because of combat-related disability or worse, the unspeakable has happened and changed the reality of their world forever.

Still other spouses have continued to juggle the added stressors along with their family and professional lives as best they can.

In today’s world where the two-income household is often necessary to meet basic expenses, the situation of the military spouse is less than ideal. Clearly, it’s just not business as usual today for military spouses and their families.


A few years back, in the dark ages, military spouses stood an extremely limited chance of being employed in a meaningful job, much less achieving genuine career success. Wives (long before husbands were spouses too) were fully expected to support their husbands’ military careers and forget about having a career of their own. It was just the way things were done. The old saying that “If the military had wanted you to have a spouse with a career, they would have issued you one” was very true. Spouses who chose to ignore this reality of the military culture ran the risk of damaging their service members’ careers permanently.

Thankfully, things are different today. Wives, as well as an ever-growing number of husbands who are spouses, aren’t subjected to the same archaic beliefs and practices. What’s more, the military recognizes the importance of spouses having the opportunity to experience meaningful employment. They know full well that spousal satisfaction levels affect recruitment and retention of the services.

One of the reasons they know this is because of a 2004 Rand study, Working Around the Military: Challenges to Military Spouse Employment and Education (Harrell, Lim, Castaneda, and Golinelli), which reported that the majority of spouses interviewed perceived that the military lifestyle has negatively affected their work opportunities.

While those interviewed for the research had varying definitions of “negative,” the facts were clear. Military wives were more likely to be employed and have a higher education than civilian wives, yet they were more likely to fall into the bottom 30% of all wage earners and less likely to appear in the top 40%. In terms of wages earned, military spouses (in this case wives) earned an average of $9 per hour while civilian “look-alikes” earned $12 per hour.

As a result of such findings, traditional and emerging employment challenges are being given due consideration within the Department of Defense (DoD) who are able to positively effect changes and the opening of professional career pathways for military spouses despite the usual departmental budget constraints.

The number of partnerships, tool, and programs DoD has developed in the recent past has been significant. Kudos to them. Hurray for us. You’ll read about some of them later in Chapter 2, “Setting the Stage for Success.”

The Department of Labor and corporate America also are working together to open up opportunities for spouses wherever they may find themselves stationed. Numerous nonprofit organizations, such as the National Military Family Association and Operation Home Front, stand ready to offer a helping hand to spouses, wherever they may be stationed around the world.


While the employment outlook for spouses is promising, there are still more than enough obstacles to go around. Take your pick:

  • Parenting responsibilities
  • Military training/work scheduling/deployments conflicts
  • Limited or unaffordable childcare
  • Lack of universal licensing reciprocity within certain career fields (i.e., nursing, teaching, and real estate)
  • Frequent relocations
  • Employers that discriminate against military spouses
  • Lack of available opportunities within the community (on or off installation)
  • Lack of meaningful employment (underemployment)
  • Lack of knowledge regarding employment opportunities

Despite the obstacles, career success is within your reach. Before you can reach it, however, you have to know how you personally define “career success.” How will you know when you’ve finally achieved it and how will you make it last?

There is no wrong way to answer the question. Maybe your idea of success involves sitting on top of the organization chart and calling all the shots. Or maybe you call it a home run when you are able to bring about positive change within your community. Success for others might just mean that they and their families no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Everyone has their own definition of what career success means and that’s the way it should be. Gone are the days of clinging to some rigid definition of career success authored by someone far removed from you who knows nothing about your professional desires or your qualifications. While some lingering stereotypes remain, the accepted reality is that your definition of success is the only one that truly matters.


Helping you to achieve career success is what this book is all about. In it you will discover effective strategies to help you land a meaningful job and grow a career. You will find up-to-date information about mobile and global career options that are open to you if you want them. The book also provides lots of specific job search know-how techniques along with timeless guidance you can use at various stages of your career.

Now let’s get to it!

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SPECIAL QUANTITY DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE. See the Product Options box above. Discounts do not include the cost of shipping.

See also the related Military-to-Civilian Transition Guides, a collection of three books of interest to the military and their spouses.

THE AUTHOR: Janet Farley is the author of Jobs and the Military Spouse and Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide. She resides in Germany, where she works with military transition and spousal programs.



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