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The average military spouse’s resume rarely tells the whole story. More often than not, employers need to push past the paperwork to find out that the candidate they are reviewing has an unusually strong set of skills and attributes. One way to accomplish this is through networking—taking the time to meet military spouses. Many of them have interesting and unique stories. More than 20 percent of military spouses own their own businesses, according to the Blue Star Families 2013 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. Many are also extremely engaged in their local military and civilian communities.

Networking enables employers to meet spouses in an environment where they are able to speak freely, and be open and honest about who they are and what they have to offer. Professionals can ask spouses about qualities such as their vast volunteer experience, which is three times the national average. This is just one area where, on paper, military spouses often undersell themselves. They tend to devalue skills acquired in roles such as Family Readiness Group leader or Spouse Club event coordinator because these are not paid positions.

We strongly encourage you to take the time to get to know the spouses of our veterans. There is usually a unique set of experiences hidden behind a resume gap, and a long list of leadership roles and qualifications that may not be fully captured on a resume. Some spouses do not take on paid work and choose to volunteer because they face challenges with state licenses or certifications.

There is usually a unique set of experiences hidden behind a resume gap, and a long list of leadership roles and qualifications that may not be fully captured on a resume.

MIlitary spouses frequently manage cross-country moves, adapt to new environments, and take on new roles and responsibilities when their service member deploys. This requires resilience, flexibility and creativity. Not all of this translates onto a resume, but through a handshake and an introduction, spouses can start to reveal their unique qualifications.

Hiring Our Heroes hiring fairs and networking receptions for spouses. Each year, the Hiring Our Heroes program hosts 20 fairs exclusively for spouses on military installations. The fairs feature spouse-focused employers and workshops that are geared toward spouses’ unique challenges. In addition, Hiring Our Heroes also hosts networking receptions in selected locations to connect spouses with local business leaders, chamber of commerce representatives and military installation staff in a social, relaxed setting. To find more information about these opportunities, go to HiringOurHeroes.org.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). This effort is part of the Department of Defense’s broader Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) initiative, which seeks to strengthen the education and career opportunities of military spouses by helping them understand their skills, interests and goals; by providing education and training to help them identify academic, licensing or credentialing requirements that can help them reach their career goals; and by offering guidance on how they can market themselves. MSEP, a targeted recruitment and employment solution, provides companies with direct access to spouses seeking career opportunities. It currently has more than 200 partners, who have hired more than 50,000 military spouses. To learn more, read the blog entry on the website of the White House’s jobs initiative Joining Forces, and go to the MSEP portal.

The Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN). This private-sector, nonprofit organization offers spouses virtual and in-person meetings or webinars, helps them with resumes and other resources, and connects spouses with employers. A fact sheet contains contact information and details on how it works with corporate recruiters.