Why does it have to be so hard for a military spouse to find a new job? That’s kind of a rhetorical question but if anyone has answers, I’m willing to listen!
I am currently trying to rejoin the workforce after several years. I’m sure I’m not alone amongst military spouses in having a career break for a variety of reasons. My main reason was moving overseas for three years. This came hot on the heels of maternity leave with my youngest child so between one thing and another it has been the best part of five years since I was formally employed.
Added to that is the fact that I am changing careers too. In a previous life, I was a Human Resources Officer. I used to love it but the passion for it had certainly gone before we moved overseas and now that we’re back, I don’t feel the pull to return to that world.
I have rekindled an old passion though – for writing. When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would often say, ‘An author…but I’ll be a hairdresser as well to pay the bills.’ You can’t say I wasn’t a realist!
Fast forward more years than I would care to mention and I’m certainly not a hairdresser. Aside from the odd home haircut during lockdown! On the other hand, I am trying to make a career in writing but trying to find a new job is far from easy.
A writing career has the added perk that it can be done anywhere in the world. Always a bonus for a military spouse! I can take my laptop and keep writing wherever the Royal Navy takes us. Sounds ideal but the reality is hard.
I have picked up some freelance work but when I look at salaried jobs, I am finding a frustrating trend. So many posts are advertised without enough information to let you know if the role is suitable.
Sometimes this is a lack of information about what the job involves or the job description is in ‘management speak’. There’s something wrong if you finish reading a job description and still don’t know what the job entails!
I’ve also seen jobs advertised as ‘part-time’ without any information about what that means. Given that I’ve also seen part-time jobs that range from 5 hours a week to 30 hours a week, this is important information!
However, when I started trying to find a new job, by far the most worrying trend was the number of jobs advertised without salary information. From a personal point of view, I want to know if a job will pay enough to cover transport costs and potentially child care costs. It would be nice to have a little left over too.
It is also a useful guide to see if a job is the right level for me. Job titles can vary wildly between companies but salary scales can usually give a good indication of what level of responsibility the job holds in comparison to my past roles.
The bigger issue though is way beyond my personal situation. Where employers choose not to include salary information, it perpetuates pay inequality. Any pay gap in a company (and there will almost always be one!) will never be reduced without transparency in pay.
So here I am, trying to find a new job to reenter the workforce. As a military spouse, I have some of the same considerations as a single parent. I can’t rely on my husband to be here to help with childcare after all. He may be called away at any time.
Whatever work I take on, I need to know that it will be flexible. Invariably, as soon as my husband goes away, one of the children will be sick. In fact, as I type this one of my kids is home sick. It is not easy to concentrate so if this article doesn’t make sense, that is why!
Equally, I may be the only one available to look after them during school breaks. If I am going to pay for childcare during that time, I need a job that pays enough to compensate for that.
Honestly? All of this feels a little daunting. After such a long break, I also don’t have a huge amount of self-confidence in my ability to make the career I want.
With my need for flexibility and the possibility of moving at short notice, I don’t feel like a very attractive prospect to employers. It is also hard going to find enough freelance work to truly call it a job. Especially as I have effectively changed careers and had a big career break too. I don’t like to make life easy for myself, do I?
I have had good feedback on the writing I have done so far so I have to hold onto that. I still ask my husband regularly if I’m doing the right thing in pursuing writing as a career. Perhaps I should go back to HR because it’s what I have done before? He’s very supportive and wants me to love what I’m doing, but I still have doubts.
Does anyone else have these constant crises of confidence? I want to find a new job doing something I love… I just need some belief that I can!