Catonsville, MD | April 28, 2021
Recently First Lady Jill Biden announced renewed support of Joining Forces, a White House initiative to support military and veteran families that she began with then-First-Lady Michelle Obama in 2011. A key plank in the current program is helping military spouses overcome challenges that make finding employment difficult. These barriers include frequent moves and transfers, and difficulty in explaining gaps in their resumes.
“How can we keep our military strong if we don’t give our families what they need to thrive?” said Dr. Biden, who herself is a military mother and grandmother.
Employment of military spouses is one of Kathryn Troutman’s specialties. In fact, this leading federal jobs expert wrote a guide on it that received Best Career Book of 2020 in the Independent Publisher Award’s Distinguished Favorites competition. The award winning 2nd edition of The Stars Are Lined Up for Military Spouses was written to highlight new opportunities for federal employment for these jobseekers.
What does the author think of Dr. Biden’s announcement? “It’s great to have this visibility for the employment of military spouses,” responded Troutman. “It takes a lot of time and effort to relocate a family every three to four years and start over at a new base, including getting another job.”
Joining Forces will work with the government, non-profits and the private sector to address military spouse employment issues, and Troutman sees a vital part of the solution to be federal jobs. She points out that there is federal employment on every military installation. “The federal government is a great employer for military spouses, in particular,” Troutman noted. “The federal government jobs are very flexible. They give family members time off if needed to take care of their families. In many cases, they can telecommunicate.”
A major feature in Troutman’s Stars book is the new Military Spouse Federal Resume format; it highlights a spouse’s PCS (Permanent Change of Station) history as a job block for their career. So if they have been married to a service member, they create a “volunteer job” called Military Spouse History. This block will include the titles of their installations and dates. It will also cover any skills that they have gained, such as document review, policy interpretation, planning and coordination, logistical knowledge, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and diverse knowledge in different cultures. Troutman recommends listing the hours worked per week around 20.
“If you have a volunteer position and you don’t earn any money, the federal government will still use that experience to qualify you for a job,” Troutman explained. “This is a really big deal. Before military spouses put their PCS history on their federal resumes, they were getting no credit for all they do for their families.”
Troutman shared that these jobseekers were even hiding the fact that they were military spouses on their resumes. The spouses feared that an employer would reject them, knowing they would be leaving the position within three to four years. “But statistics show that people don’t stay in jobs very long these days,” commented Troutman. “The idea of a life-long job isn’t popular anymore. So a military spouse can still give three to four good years of service.”
At one of Troutman’s federal job trainings, a student came up to her and shared a story that illustrates the problem with leaving this information out. This military spouse recalled once sending out a resume that was long with many job listings because she had moved so many times. This job applicant was called in for an interview. Once there, she was told that the HR rep had wanted to meet this person who had Italy, Germany, South Korea, San Antonio and San Diego on her resume. The HR official had wondered, “How could this be?”
In the 2nd Edition of the Stars book, another change covered is that military spouses can now apply for many positions open to federal employees. Before April 2019, they thought they could only respond to vacancy announcements targeted to the general public. NOW, the military spouses even have their own widget that highlights the positions available to them. It can be found in the “Who Can Apply” section of vacancy announcements on USAJOBS.gov, the official hiring website of the federal government.
“The Military Spouse Hiring Authority created an even playing field for the military spouses against federal employees and veterans,” Troutman noted. “For the federal employee jobs, none of these groups gets special preference.”
The Stars Are Lined Up for Military Spouses, 2nd Edition presents six case studies of actual military spouses who succeeded in landing federal jobs. It walks the reader through the STARS that Line Up for Military Spouse Hiring Programs. The guide includes six “before and after” federal resume samples, and more.
“Every day there are hundreds of jobs posted on USAJOBS that are open to military spouses,” notes Troutman. “The advantage of working for the U.S. government is that these workers can often stay with the same employer when they move, as there are federal jobs throughout the country. This builds a more solid career.”
In addition to the Stars book, military spouses can also get help applying for federal openings from their military employment services office on base. The Navy has the Fleet and Family Support Centers; the Army, Army Community Services; and the Air Force, Military and Family Readiness Centers; USMC Community Services; and the USCG Work Life Program.
The Resume Place, Troutman’s federal resume writing business in Baltimore, also offers Federal Career Consultations for $190. For this fee, you receive a detailed, expert report written by a Certified Federal Resume Writer on a resume targeting one vacancy announcement. This is followed by a 30-minute phone consultation.
“So much of a ship’s power is unseen beneath the waves: the engines, the anchor, the rudders that give it direction and purpose,” said Dr. Biden of military and veteran families in her Joining Forces announcement. “You are the rudder that steers our military, and supporting your physical, social and emotional health is a national security imperative.”
Kathryn Troutman is the Founder and President of Resume Place, Inc., a Federal Career Consulting business located in Catonsville, MD. Her firm specializes in writing and designing professional federal resumes, as well as consulting, coaching and education on the federal hiring process. She is the author of many best-selling federal career books, including The Stars Are Lined Up for Military Spouses, 2nd Edition and the Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Edition.
Troutman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable media guest, appearing on Beverly Jones’s Jazzed about Work on NPR’s WOUB, Carol Fishman Cohen’s 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch (Relaunching Your Career), Mark Miller’s Repurpose Your Career, and numerous times on Mike Causey’s Your Turn show on Federal News Network. Her business, The Resume Place, had been featured in The Washington Post. To hear interviews of this top federal jobs expert, click here.
The Official Hiring Website of the United States Government: USAJOBS.gov
Resume Place’s Federal Career Consulting and Presidential Appointee Consulting
WHO SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK. Military Spouses, Active Duty Military Whose Spouses Are Interested in Fed Careers, Military Transition Counselors, Employment Counselors, Federal HR Specialists, EEO Specialists, Federal Managers.
HOW TO GET THE BOOK. The Stars Are Lined Up for Military Spouses, 2nd Edition is now available on both Amazon and Resume Place. Individual book price on the Resume Place site is $14.95 + $7.00 shipping. There are multiple order discounts available there too.