It’s that magical time of the year. Yes, it’s Christmas and the holiday season but if you’re an Australian military family it may also be posting time. Many people around the country are currently finalizing inventories and watching their belongings being loaded on to trucks headed for a new adventure. For spouses this may also mean searching for a new job. Here are some things you can do to prepare.
Get to know your local labour market
Do your research on your new location and find out as much as you can about the local labour market. What are the major industries? Who are the major employers? Is your chosen profession in high demand or difficult to find work in? You can find labour market information from various sources including the Australian Labour Market portal, local chambers of commerce, and people you know in your new location (see “tap into your network” below). How are jobs usually advertised in your new location? For example, in a small town it’s not uncommon for small business owners to advertise on a shop window or via word of mouth. Having information about your new local labour market will help you plan your job search.
Plan your job search
There are many avenues for finding employment. These include advertised positions in print and online, recruiting agencies, cold calling employers and getting referrals from in your network. It’s worth trying a few different options but don’t get trapped by the “spray and pray” approach of sending your resume out to hundreds of jobs and companies and hoping for a response. Based on your knowledge of the local labor market make some decisions about the most efficient way to search. Remember, the “hidden job market” i.e jobs that aren’t advertised, makes up the majority of the market. Who would you really like to work for? Make a list of some preferred companies and research them well before sending them a targeted resume. Do you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) in the company? If so, use them as a bridge person by asking for insight on available jobs, what the company is looking for in a new hire or to ask for an introduction.
Utilize your network
As military spouses we often have a wide network because of the many places we’ve lived and worked. Given the extent of the hidden job market it’s crucial to cultivate your network and stay in touch (social media like Facebook, Twitter and especially LinkedIn are valuable tools). Are you a member of a professional association– these are a valuable occupation-specific networking tool. There are many Facebook groups made up of military spouses sharing valuable employment information (and some are specifically for this purpose). Online networks are easily accessible and wide spread but don’t underestimate the importance of networking in person. Remember, networking is a 2-way street and you should nurture your network throughout the year. And it doesn’t have to be stressful- we network all the time and networking for employment is just a little more focused. Your network can be a great lead on available jobs, company insight, professional feedback, training opportunities, references etc.
Catalogue your skills and update your resume
Finding satisfying employment relies heavily on understanding your skills and strengths and marketing these to an employer. When considering candidates an employer will be asking themselves “what can this person do for me?” What are your key skills, strengths and achievements? These are what employers look at when determining what you can do for them. If you have self-awareness about your skills, strengths and experience and how they relate to the job you want to do you’ll have a much better chance of showing a potential employer what a valuable asset you’ll be! Occupation-specific skills are important but transferable skills and personal attributes are also key– think computer skills, customer service, communication, problem solving, decision making, interpersonal skills, leadership, adaptability, flexibility, learning ability … the list goes on. Demonstrate how you’ve used these in previous roles. Your resume should always be tailored specifically for the job you are applying for but having a good master copy makes it easier to get your application together when opportunity arises.
Do an online profile health check
I would hazard a guess that most employers will do an online search of potential candidates before hiring. Does your online profile have a consistent “brand”? Is there anything publicly available that could damage your chances of being hired. Does your LinkedIn profile match your resume? Check all your online profiles and update your information and security settings. LinkedIn is a great job search and networking tool so make sure your profile is up to date with a professional photo.
Be open to (and seek) new opportunities
A new location can present new opportunities that you may not have thought of or even been aware of. Whilst it’s good to have a plan it’s also very worthwhile being open to new employment opportunities and grasping them when you can. We “don’t know what we don’t know” so your dream job may be out there and you don’t even know it until the opportunity presents itself! A new location is also a chance for a fresh start so if you’ve been feeling like you’re in a rut, or your chosen profession isn’t giving you the satisfaction it once was take the opportunity that relocation presents and rethink your career.
Take care of yourself
We all know how exhausting (mentally and physically) relocation can be and military spouses are often the ones shouldering most of the work as the primary carers of children (and the fact that we’re not working!). Couple that with the stress of transitioning jobs (or in and out of paid work) and you can burn out fast. Although it’s easier said than done finding time to relax, to socialise, to make new friends and explore your new location should be a high priority on your job search plan. You’ll be better off for it in the long run.