This is a guest post by Melissa Gilliam Shaw. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your job search story!
The military defines a PCS as a “Permanent Change in Station”, but to the career-driven military spouse, PCSs can seem more like “Perpetual Career Searches”.
If you’re facing a PCS (no matter how you define it), take heart. With a bit of strategy and a touch of good fortune, your new duty station can become a great opportunity for your spouse’s career and yours.
Know What You Want
Take time to strongly consider what you want your next career step to be. Is your dream to work part time and stay home part time with your children? Is it to launch a home-based business? Maybe your dream job is a traditional full-time position in a large organization like a bank, firm, or corporation.
Before your PCS, challenge yourself to clearly articulate what your aspirations are for the next step in your career. A clear vision for your own career is necessary for maximizing job search tools and for knowing how to market yourself in your field.
Know Who You Are
You should understand both your professional and your personal values. These values — along with the clear vision you have for your career — will keep your career search on course, especially if you begin to feel fatigued by a particularly long or challenging job search.
Stay centered in who are you and what you career vision is, and you’ll be infinitely more likely to achieve your goals at this new juncture in your career.
Know What Value You Offer
In order to stand out in a crowded field of applicants, you should understand — and express in your cover letter, resume, and interview — what sets you apart from other candidates for the same job.
Ask yourself what you can offer to your potential employer that other candidates cannot. What distinguishes you from your peers? What can you do better than anyone else?
Here’s my personal value proposition:
I bring ten years of international marketing and brand strategy to my work as a content specialist. When you hire me, you hire a writer who has a broad worldview, but more importantly, you hire a writer who understands how to integrate your unique brand story into comprehensive, integrated marketing and brand strategies.
Notice that I didn’t say that I can write cover letters, web content, email marketing content, and white papers. Those are table stakes in my industry. Instead, I focused on the higher order benefit of hiring me over hiring someone else; namely, that I “know how to integrate your unique brand story into comprehensive, integrated marketing and brand strategies.” That’s something that not all writers can do.
Once you’ve articulated your unique value for the positions you’ll apply to, make sure that it shines through in your cover letters, your resumes, and your interviews.
Use the Tools You Have
We live in a hugely connected world. From LinkedIn® profiles to websites like Monster or USAJobs.com, there is no shortage of general and field-specific websites that you can leverage to help you in your search.
Create accounts on the relevant sites for your field, set up email alerts for job postings, and scour job boards daily. Ensure that your LinkedIn® profile is up-to-date and consider building a professional website for yourself using simple (and free) tools like about.me or WordPress.org so that your name and professional experiences are readily available to those who search for you online prior to inviting you for an interview.
Above All, Remain Positive
You are a military spouse. You’ve faced bigger challenges and conquered more significant struggles than a PCS. Keep your eyes on the horizon, focusing on the vision you’ve articulated for your career. Remain true to your personal and professional values while you search for the right job. Sometimes the search takes longer than we hope, but that can also mean that the perfect job is just around the corner.
When your ideal position becomes available, remember to consistently communicate — throughout all steps of your application and interview processes — what unique value you bring to the position that’s above and beyond what your competitors might offer.
When you know what you want, you know what your value system is, and you can articulate your unique value, a great position is absolutely within your reach.
Melissa Gilliam Shaw brings ten years of international marketing and brand strategy experience with nonprofit and corporate brands to her work as an independent consultant. Melissa can be found on LinkedIn® [http://www.linkedin.com/in/melissagilliamshaw].
Note: This blog post only touches on certain aspects of this topic and is not a comprehensive list. This blog post is an educational and informational resource for job seekers and is not a substitute for working with a resume writer or other professional. See our Terms and Conditions for additional information.