Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Make Volunteering the Bridge to Your Dream Job

Ashley Folsom has moved eight times in almost 11 years of being a Marine Corps wife. All of her moves have been across country or overseas. Yet, she hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to maintaining her career.

“You have to keep your toe in the water,” she said. “Even if you move to a location where you can’t continue your current job, you can volunteer in order to create a bridge to your next job.”

While living in India, Folsom couldn’t continue her consulting career helping large, global organizations implement change. So, she volunteered to coach local businesses and took courses that built her resume.

“Using a volunteer job as a bridge job is extremely smart because hiring is expensive,” said Master Certified Coach Michele Woodward ( Volunteering lets you try out for the job and prove you would benefit the company, without costing the employer anything.”

Also, military spouses who have gaps in their resumes, or look like job hoppers due to frequent relocation, can use volunteer work to fill the gaps and create a win-win situation. Here are four easy steps.

1.   Figure out what’s missing from your resume.

"Find a mentor who works in your intended industry or career and can advise you about what experience you need to get you noticed," said Susan Feland, founder and president of AcademyWomen, which, as part of the Joining Forces Initiative launched by the first lady, has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the Hiring Our Heroes Initiative to provide mentoring and networking service to military spouses.

Don’t be shy about asking that mentor to help you understand clearly whether you are missing a certain skill set, don’t have enough experience in the field or need training or education in order to enter into or progress in the field. 

Equally important is knowing what you already bring to the table. Ask your mentor to point out what skills and accomplishments on your resume are good selling points to get you in the door to gain the skills you need.

    2. Explore opportunities to build expertise.

"When I left the Air Force, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I was interested in leadership development," Feland said. "Since I had no formal degrees in that area, I researched, wrote and volunteered to learn more and establish expertise. I also founded a nonprofit organization, AcademyWomen ( to provide a community where (military-connected) women could sharpen their leadership skills and gain personal and professional support," she said.

As a result of her work, Feland was hired by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Center of Leadership Development and Research as the director of a program developing and producing leadership content for professors and organizations around the world.

    3.  Ask for what you really want.

It’s easy to just show up on a volunteer job and do whatever needs to be done. But to be noticed, you will have to show off your talents and not just share your time. Woodward suggests being deliberate in your communication and offered a smooth way to make your point.

“For example, say to them: ‘I am a project manager. How can I help you?’ ” she said.

Then, once you get on the inside of the organization using your current skill set, volunteer internally.

“If you are in accounting but want to be in event planning, go to that department and offer to help with an upcoming project,” said Woodward, who’s known as a career strategist who helps her clients gain clarity about what they want to do and devise a plan to do it.

Before you know it, you will have the skills to make your next career move, so prove it!

   4. Document your worthiness for your dream job.

When it’s time to apply for your dream job, document what you accomplished on your volunteer gig, just as if you would if you were paid.

“Keep your employer in mind when writing your resume,” Feland said. “Know what skills and qualities they are looking for and be sure to communicate the fact that you have them.”

And don’t be shy about it.

“Have the confidence to tell the story of what you have done,” Woodward said. “Or, write a strong LinkedIn profile and ask others to write recommendations for you. It’s a lot easier to let a third party say how fantastic you are, and employers will notice that, too,” Woodward said.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

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