Are you looking to hire talented employees and get a competitive edge? Tapping into the underutilised talent pool of Australia’s military spouses (more commonly known as ADF partners) is something that probably hasn’t crossed your mind – but it could be the talent solution you’re looking for!

Why Hire Military Spouses?

Military spouse recruiting is “the next frontier,” because corporations are realizing this untapped resource demonstrates flexibility, tenacity and resiliency. – Rachel Book, associate director of global talent attraction and diversity at AT&T via New York Post.

Within the ADF partner talent pool lies a depth and breadth of skills and experience. Most importantly the same attributes that help ADF partners thrive in military life are the same ones that make them great employees.

– Organised, resilient, flexible, adaptable, community-minded, resourceful and team-oriented are just some of the terms used to describe military spouses.

– Their recognised skills include organising, prioritising, problem solving, cultural awareness, networking, communication, leadership and a strong work ethic.

– Multiple relocations across a variety of states and countries has exposed ADF partners to a myriad of people, cultures and work practices from which they develop highly effective interpersonal, intercultural and communication skills in addition to their occupation specific skills.

– ADF partners work well under pressure, take on additional responsibilities and handle change and uncertainty with ease.

– ADF partners are renowned for jumping right in, learning new skills quickly and getting on with the job.

Read more about the diverse talent in the ADF partner community on our blog series “A Force To Be Reckoned With”

Why are they overlooked and underutilized?

Some of the unique aspects of military life create employment challenges for ADF partners. In a 2017 survey of families it was reported that 14% were unemployed, and 12% underemployed. In addition it was reported that overall satisfaction with work arrangements is not very high due to the compromises partners make in the amount and nature of the work they perform. Those in casual employment in particular reported being unhappy with their current work situation and wanting to work more hours. Around 1/3 of partners who reported having difficulties finding work said they are overqualified for the work they are doing.

Frequent relocations, family responsibilities, employer perceptions are common barriers identified by partners to finding suitable employment.

In their comments about employment sacrifices, partners noted the impact of relocations is compounded by moving to locations with high unemployment rates and opportunities in only a limited range of industries and occupations. – 2017 ADF Families Survey

Negative perceptions of Defence partners and not being able to find work with suitable hours are also seen as common barriers to finding preferred employment – 2017 ADF Families Survey

How to attract, recruit and retain military spouse talent

Now that you have realized that ADF partners could be the talent solution you’re looking for how do you go about attracting, recruiting and retaining them? First and foremost you want to be an employer of choice for ADF partners, and secondly you want to make sure that ADF partners know that you are. So how can you be an employer of choice?

  • Reset hiring manager and recruiter expectations. Resourceful ADF partners adapt their career choices to suit their circumstances but this may mean employment outside their area of training and expertise, lateral career moves, and working in jobs they are overqualified for. Sometimes it’s not always possible to find work in the current location. The result can be resumes with gaps in employment, multiple short tenured positions, and a range of different job titles. By understanding the value that ADF partners bring to the workplace and adjusting your hiring methods and expectations you are less likely to miss out on valuable employees.

  • Find ADF partners where they are, and promote your company as ADF partner friendly. Sure, ADF partners search the big job boards like everyone else. But like other savvy job seekers they like to put their effort in where they can more likely expect a return on investment. Engage with the defence community in Australia and make it known that you are genuinely ADF partner friendly and promote your defence partner friendly policies and practices. Liaise with advocacy bodies such as Defence Families of Australia. Highlight your ADF partner friendly policies on your website. Host networking and hiring events specifically for ADF partners.

  • Offer flexible work practices and portable career options. Military life can be demanding – flexible work and leave options can help partners balance their work life roles and help them manage periods such as the deployment of their spouse. Internal transfers or remote work options can help you retain valuable military talent if and when their family is posted to a new location.

  • Partner with someone who has extensive insight and experience of the defence community, who can help you better understand ADF partners and help you build an ADF partner recruitment strategy.