Have you put in the hard work to build your background and grow your skills to become a talented project manager (PM)? Maybe so. But, now, as a military spouse, you’re ready to make those remote, flexible career dreams of yours a reality. If that seems out of reac read more
Hire MadSkills Co-Founder and CTO joins board to represent fellow military spouses in coding. Richmond, Va., August 30, 2017 — Operation Code, the largest community dedicated to helping military veterans and their families launch software development careers, announced read more
How would you come out the other side of this game? 10 pts. for every time you, a colleague, or your organization have asked these questions or delivered these statements to a military spouse during an interview:
“What’s your husband do here?”
“Why did you relocate?”
“Quite an extensive resume, can you explain all these different positions in the last 7 years, you don’t seem dedicated to any one position?”
“How do you multitask this career with the demands of your spouse’s job?”
“So how long are you going to be here?” (While this question carefully skirts around being legal or not, if all paths lead to indicate the reason you are asking has to do with a spouse’s military affiliation then you may be out of compliance.)
“So your spouse is Army, thank her for her service. What brings you to us today?”
“What brings you to the area?”
“Sorry you aren’t the right fit as you follow your spouse around and don’t have yours as a priority.”
“How do your kids adjust to the moves? That must be a big change. Is this your last move?”
Fair hiring laws and legally sound HR processes are not new in practice and most companies put a lot of time, training, and support into hiring managers to ensure the bottom line is always being met: find the candidate with the qualifications and experience to fill the position.
And yet, these side stepping questions tend to sneak in and alarmingly, quite often. After a deep dive into a community forum, I’ve learned this is not exclusive to the military spouse community, civilians being interviewed get it too but an extra layer of underlying investigative mode usually creeps up when a candidate is military connected. It’s time to bring it all to the proverbial desk top scattered in applicant resumes and breakdown this barrier between spouses and interviewers.
Interviews are not buddy time and an interviewer really should present no interest or lead conversation to divulge personal life. Hiring interviews are focused on the experience and skill set someone brings to the organization. These type of questions are null points when it comes to qualification and ability to perform the job at hand. Yet military spouses continue to be put on the spot. With the uprising generation workforce averaging 4 jobs in 10 years and the DOL national average at only 4.4 years in a job, it’s more a reflection of antiquated hiring process, close minded thought processes and community stereotyping than actual interest or concern in a candidate’s career lifecycle.
It’s a mindset employers need to address organization wide and bring up to speed. Any candidates length of time in one location has no reflection on the caliber of work and success they can drive within your company. And if an organization is truly an advocate of retention and stability, telecommute or virtual opportunities should be considered giving organizations another layer of work flexibility, diversified talent, and dedicated and engaged employees.
“But we spend an average of $1,900 per employee in on boarding and training and that loss adds up.” I understand. I’ve been a hiring manager with a multi-million dollar labor budget and we employed 82 military spouses. I am now a business owner with an entire founding team comprised of military spouses. My company also matches professionally skilled military spouses with businesses and entrepreneurs through virtual outsourcing models – cost, retention, and stability are all a part of my daily business focus (as well as of high importance to our clients) and a lot of factors contribute to the right candidate but never “how long are you going to be around?”
Would you ask a male interviewee to divulge his upcoming wedding date, and to go ahead and gauge his possibility of a move anytime soon? You know the, “Just give us ballpark idea.” Harmless right? Do you ask a 57 year old top of line sales candidate if she loves her grandchildren and if she has any plans to relocate closer to them in the short term? No. You don’t. (If you do, hire an HR attorney stat.)
Final food for thought: Male military spouses do not experience these same type of stigmatic questions during interviews and well, that’s a whole different conversation.
To my fellow spouses: Answer questions regarding military affiliation with positivity and confidence. Don’t miss a beat. Think on your feet. Which isn’t hard because that’s how we live daily. It gets awkward real fast when you know what you’re really being asked but stay honest and protect your integrity. A little tongue in cheek goes a long way.
“The area? It’s so great here, the community is great and we love the local vibe.”
“The extensive resume? My personal goal has always been a diversified skill set that can bring success to any team or organization.”
“Is my career goal long term? Yes, I plan to advance and build until I become independently wealthy or hit retirement.”
“Why’d I leave my last job? There is so much of the world to be seen and I look forward to contributing and helping teams move forward wherever I am.”
Jean South President & CEO, Hire Served Hire Served is a military talent acquisition agency. We cultivate exceptional military talent. We coach our candidates to understand their why, then we connect them with Military-Passionate employers where they can add value a read more
Erica McMannes Co-Founders & CEO, MadSkills MadSkills is the only technology solution that allows businesses to outsource directly to a Military Spouse Talent Community. We offer two paths: direct access or a virtual staffing model. Military spouses create a free pr read more
Next month, we hit the one year anniversary of our soft launch to the military spouse community and our employer portal/DirectHire launch anniversary is coming up in October. We’ve had lots of questions about how everything is going? Here is a quick glance:
Our MadSkills team has grown too! Be on the look out for introductions to our team, contractors, and clients – we’ll be featuring them all over the next 3 months on our FB page. Like us and follow along there as we continue to deliver military spouse talent to clients and virtual work opportunities to the spouse community.
Everything in your business can be outsourced… if you’re not emotionally attached to doing it all. — Richard Branson Man, is that the truth or what? As a small business owner, you’re instinctively ambitious and it’s natural for you to want to do it all. Yet, because of read more
Military spouse employment (more justly underemployment or military spouse unemployment) has been a conversation in and out of the spotlight over the past decade (but a timeless conversation from within the community itself). Government sponsored programs, corporate partnerships, private companies, and non-profits have all joined the space and while successes have come along the way, there is still a lot of work to be done. Thanks to the deep efforts, research, and growing initiatives of organizations like IVMF, BlueStarFamilies, and Hiring Our Heroes, we have sound, relevant data to support the narrative around the issue. The concern still remains that the data and research are always the same, the conversation always rounds out the same, overall – not much has really changed. The same collective “sad sigh” resounds every time new data is released and sadly, it remains a binary tune. But much alike a physical epidemic plaguing a nation, the “fix” to this issue is going to require some deep strategy, microscopic research, and unified forces. If we take out a lens, dissect the findings, and start piecing together the components, what would those pieces look like? Maybe if we ‘level up’ and start talking about the microcosms at play, we can start to see exactly what we need to do.
There are currently several pain points in the process for military spouses to own and operate businesses from military installations. This struggle has direct impact on unemployment rates and dissatisfaction within the community. Thanks to a recent open conversation with AUSA, this issue is being revisited by military leadership and hopefully addressed with a modernized approach to the scope of the types of businesses and regulations governing these opportunities. (We should no longer be referring to spouse owned businesses in a collective unit under “solicitations” and most definitely should not be lumped in with governing documents that refer to business as a privilege and not a right.)
“It’s not worth the battle.” “I can’t afford to keeping doing this.” Lawyers. Nurses. Therapists. Teachers. Business owners. Frequent moves mean great difficulties in career transferability for most military spouse professionals. Thanks to MSJDN, incredible strides have been made in the transitions for military spouse lawyers and attorneys from state to state but a lot of work needs to be done. Legislation for military spouse credentials to move from state to state must be a part of the solution. Legislation has been presented in the past in attempts to help alleviate the financial stressors of state to state licensure (tax credit, etc.) but nothing has ever made it through. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it just means we have the opportunity to listen to experiences, gather the stories, present solutions, and crowdsource our way to legislation.
When organizations all supporting the same community do not collaborate for the common good, we all lose. Everyday. Losing opportunities. Wasting money. Wasting time. How is it that spouses on an installation have never heard of MSEP? How is it possible for a spouse assisting other spouses with employment from an installation not be allowed to also run a career networking group for a non-profit in his/her free time? Conflict of interest? NO! It actually makes absolute sense for someone passionate to reach out to all resources at hand and assist those she is obligated to aid to the best of her abilities….or sure, conflict of interest. Active components of the military could NEVER survive if held to the same structure of support currently happening in the military spouse employment space. Have to modernize delivery. Have to be able to see the entire landscape. Have to be able to innovate and keep up with the age of community being served. That’s not happening.
We are fighting some nasty stereotypes. It’s just the way it is. And until we start broadcasting the level of talent, innovation, and untapped talent sitting in a community of 1.1 million human beings (not to mention the 15 million Veteran spouses), the narrative won’t change. About 2 years ago, I had a client tell me that, “Military spouses are a force to be reckoned with.” Yes. They are…and the world needs to know. I recently sat in a room at a military spouse community networking series hosted by three collaborative nonprofits and HERE is the narrative the nation needs to understand about the military spouse community. We are STRONG. We are POWERFUL. We have MADSKILLS. Present in this small conference room were spouses from all branches to include:
A National Nonprofit Program Manager
An Advertising Agency Owner
A C Corp Business Owner
A Freelance Copywriter on a path to politics
A Creative Digital Company owner
A Financial Advisor
A Motivational Speaker
A Social Impact Educator/PhD Candidate
An Immigration Attorney
A Criminal Attorney
A Human Resource Director of Fortune500 Company
A Curriculum Developer/Educator
A Life Coach
A Top Tier Sales Rep
An Art Illustration Business Owner
The beast that is military spouse unemployment seems almost untouchable at times. Most often it’s lumped in as an afterthought to veteran hiring fairs or corporate initiatives and yet the two groups actually have nothing in common other than gainful employment pursuit. Having worked for five years in the veteran transition space, I by no means am discrediting the vast difficulties found in the veteran experience but the spouse climate is different. Spouses are still physically moving, still maneuvering the revolving door of spousal presence, still volunteering incredible hours of valuable time to sustain their direct communities, still pursuing education that doesn’t align with career goals yet hoping another degree or another certificate will be the solution – ALL WHILE trying to build a career and running into the roadblocks we’ve already covered.
To my fellow spouses, how can you create, collaborate, and innovate and serve in your role as military spouse as YOU- in a way that fulfills YOU and invigorates YOU. What is your purpose and how can you let the world know about you? How can I help the world know about you and what you offer? If you were removed from the military community 100% today – who would you be? Because guess what, for most of us- someday we won’t be military spouses. And there is no rougher patch in maintaining quality of life than an active transition from active duty to civilian life, so I believe the more we can prepare spouses with personal awareness, skill sets that thrive in current industries, and remote career paths WELL before the transitional period, the better off we’ll all be.
To those who are not military spouses, who don’t know military spouse, or may not even really care, pay close attention to how you view spouses, your assumptions about who they are, where they belong, what they should be doing, etc. Start thinking outside of the box and taking a hard look at where we can start guiding military spouses in alignment with a fast paced society trending in tech and development, remote work, and virtual community building. Incredible organizations and initiatives exist in support of every side of military life but that doesn’t mean they all work the way they should or that evolutions and iterations shouldn’t be happening in faster cycles.
So in whatever way is in your heart, your mind, your soul to serve, create, and innovate I encourage you to start that journey in sharing who you are and what you bring to the table and if you have the means and connections to share the skills and businesses that are growing in our military spouse community, please share and support as if your quality of life depended on it because for us, it does. I promise whatever you need, I can find you a spouse who does it, makes it, plans it, designs it, or will learn how given the opportunity.
Erica McMannes is an Army spouse and co-founder of MadSkills. Her career path started in 2003 working for Army MWR/CYSS in various Director and leadership positions. After 10 years, 6 moves, 2 kids, and limited traditional job opportunity, she had to get creative with a way to find fulfillment and income that meshed well with the transient and unpredictable military lifestyle. After consulting for veteran owned startups in Silicon Valley for 5 years, she launched MadSkills in 2016. For more information on hiring a military spouse through virtual DirectHire or Virtual Staffing, please contact us at email@example.com.
Laura Early Co-Founder & Deputy Director, Wise Advise + Assist Team Wise Advise + Assist Team is a team of military spouse virtual assistants who help clients outsource work. From web design, bookkeeping, event planning, to digital marketing, we have a military spou read more