There are arguably few acronyms in the military vernacular that strike more fear into the heart of a career-minded military spouse than PCS.
I mean, the constant moving is why military spouse employment is even a “thing,” right? Well that and moving to places like Fallon, Nev. or Lemoore, Calif., I suppose.
There are a lot of articles about job searching during a PCS and they typically suggest that you update your resume, contact the employment services office at your new/future post, try to network and do some general research on the area where you’re moving.
All of these things are good and MUST be done when prepping to move, but there are a few things that are less talked about.
Let’s take a look at those:
Don’t Count Yourself Out Until You’re Out
Have you talked with your current employer about the opportunity to take your work with you? I’m paraphrasing a principle from Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” but seriously, don’t count out that possibility without full exploration. Perhaps they’ve never offered remote positions before or perhaps they’re a small organization with a fairly localized client base – that still doesn’t make it impossible to work remotely.
The key to this discussion: think of a solution before you ask. Please don’t just pop into your boss’s office and casually say “Hey, do you think I could take this job with me?”
Instead, start the conversation by telling them how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and present them with ways you can do the work in your new location. Think through time zone differences, document storage, methods of communication and specific projects on which you’ve worked.
If you’re not afraid to think outside the box, hopefully they won’t be either.
Think Like a Local
Almost all of the articles I found mention networking and it’s no surprise; networking is key.
Where do you start though?
I always encourage folks to start with pretty much everyone you meet; and you KNOW I’m going to suggest you look for an In Gear Career Chapter and/or Hiring Our Heroes event in your area. Even if we don’t have a chapter in your area, you still need to think like a local and that’s where the homework on your new location comes in handy.
First, I would encourage you to check out the local Chamber of Commerce. They often have specialized networking groups like a young professionals’ club and many have a military affairs council.
If you don’t see a networking event on their calendar, give them a call and ask about military family services in the area or see if they’ll let you sit in on a Military Affairs Council meeting. The folks that have volunteered or been selected to serve on that council are great contacts to start with because they’re already demonstrating their dedication to military members and their families.
Local chambers aren’t the only places to look; many rotary clubs, industry-specific professional associations and federal government agencies have networking opportunities.
Did you know the Department of Labor has One-Stop Career Centers in more than 3,000 locations across the country?
The Small Business Administration also offers local assistance in many areas if you’re thinking about starting a business (or need to move your current one).
Flex Your Muscles
You don’t have to ONLY look for traditional professional opportunities. Many articles will tell you that looking for a job should be your full-time job and while I understand you need to spend time on your search, in my experience, letting that be your ONLY focus can be overwhelming and sometimes depressing when things aren’t going your way.
Look for other ways to tend to yourself.
See if Team RWB has a chapter in your area, join the gym of your choosing or see if there’s a class in the base fitness center you want to take.
If working out isn’t for you, flex your creative or intellectual muscles by taking an art class or attending a lecture at the local university or public library.
It goes without saying that you may also find some great social and volunteer opportunities by checking out your local spouses’ club, FRG or other unit/command organizations.
Jumping into these organizations or activities can serve as more than just a distraction, of course. Relieving stress can build your confidence and renew your focus when you do spend time searching for jobs. Not to mention, many of the people you meet will have been in the area longer than you and may have the perfect connection to assist in landing your next career opportunity!
So next time you’re prepping for PCS, definitely update your resume and LinkedIn profile (CareerSpark and SECO can help), check in with your employment services office and local In Gear Career Chapter, but don’t forget to keep yourself in the running with your current employer, think like a local and flex your muscles!