I have decided that waiting for Military Orders is a little like waiting for the birth of a child….you know that the orders are coming and have a rough idea when you might have to move; but they are often late, and there is usually a period of frenetic activity and complete chaos once they do. Unfortunately the timing of Military Orders is not as precise as the timing of predicted birth dates, and you may be left waiting for months rather than weeks. The husband and I are playing the waiting game right now. We may find out where we are headed in April but could be required to move any time from May to November. The list of options is long and includes most areas of the US as well as Europe and Japan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I feel a little helpless from a career standpoint. I would love to have a little more notice. I want to do the right thing by giving my current employer a decent amount of notice, but I also want to start researching the job market and employment options in our next location. I have been a Military Spouse for a while now. I know that once the orders arrive they will kickstart the usual paperwork, cull of old clothing, toys and kitchen utensils, research on neighborhoods and schools and the planning of travel arrangements. I know that I will be very caught up in the practicalities of finishing our time here, and getting ready to establish ourselves somewhere completely new…so how does my job search even get a look in? As a Military Spouse, it is certainly difficult to get the job search underway when you have no idea where you are headed, but there are some things you can be doing now to optimize your chances of early success. These practical tasks can get you in the best position to commence your job search once the orders arrive, and may even help take your mind off the waiting game!
- Update the Resume. You know you need to. Many of us don’t have our current job listed – the resume went back in the proverbial file cabinet once we found the current job. As Military Spouses, we know we should always have a resume ready to go…but lets be honest…it might need a bit of updating. Get that done now. You will have enough on your plate once the orders come – this is one task you can get done ahead of time.
- Increase activity on professional social media forums. Perhaps you have a LinkedIn or Professional Association account but haven’t been on the website in months. Update your profile and start joining the conversations and making contributions within forums and websites associated with your field. Get your name out there to make new connections and also to establish a digital track record of your credibility within your industry.
- Reconnect with professional contacts. It can be hard (and a little insincere) to get in touch with a contact from three years ago when you need to ask them for help. Get in touch now, before you are “in need.” Email, call or message a former colleague to see how their career is going, how their family is, or wether they finally made that RV trip to the Grand Canyon. Establish the dialog and the professional networking will flow more genuinely and more effectively than if you wait.
- Plan for your succession.You may not be in a position to share your impending move with your current employer, but that does not mean you can’t think and plan how you will best turn over your work to your replacement. Your current employer and colleagues are your most valuable references for a future position and so it is important to leave on the best terms and with the most professional handover you can arrange. You will be busy once the orders arrive so start the plan or handover file now.
The Waiting Game is definitely one of the more difficult aspects of life as a Military Spouse, but I am determined to effectively use my waiting time over the next few months. Like the birth of a child, no amount of preparation will make the event seamless, but anything I can do now to prepare for the job search will reduce stress and allow me to more effectively use my time in the future. I’ll start with the resume tomorrow!