The military lifestyle often leaves spouses with having to overcome the unemployment hurdle. At NAS Patuxent River, Michelle Stubblefield, Family Employment Readiness Program Manager, said she hears their stories of frustration time and again.
“Many are frustrated with the lack of jobs, the time it takes to find jobs they qualify for and not being employed in this high cost of living area,” she said. “Due to the remote geographical location of our area and the unique military programs aboard NAS Pax River, finding employment as a military spouse is especially difficult.”
What’s more, the need for employment outnumbers the opportunities for employment here.
Although the government offers military spouses a hiring preference for federal jobs when they move with their service member, sometimes that’s not enough.
“Many spouses relocate to the area believing this program (spouse’s preference) will be enough to locate a job within a reasonable amount of time, however, that’s not always the case,” Stubblefield said. “But there is hope. Many spouses aren't aware of other programs available or the resources they can tap into. Preparedness plus opportunity equals success. It's my honor to aid in that preparation and offer undiscovered opportunities that can lead to successful employment.”
The Fleet and Family Support Center offers free individual résumé coaching which includes writing assistance, résumé and interviewing workshops, and classes on searching and applying for federal jobs by certified trainers. They also help with formatting both private industry and federal employment résumés.
Zandra Doran is no stranger to the job hunt struggles experienced when moving to this area or the support offered at the Pax River FFSC.
A nurse for 13 years, Doran said she’s never had problems finding employment because their previous military assignments all had big hospitals nearby--places such as Hawaii, California and Pennsylvania. Yet, when her family relocated to Pax River in June and she started looking, she said she soon realized how limited her options were.
“I was worried and frustrated,” Doran said. “I felt isolated and didn’t know how to find employment.”
After a couple months of searching on her own, Doran turned to the Fleet and Family Support Center.
“I had no connections, I didn’t know anyone here or have anyone to talk to about work,” she said. “I was hoping they could help me look at and apply for jobs.”
Having moved five times during her career, Doran felt her résumé was another obstacle.
“Being relocation loaded, I was afraid employers would assume I’d relocate in a couple years and not give me a chance,” she said.
Her worries were soon put to ease after meeting with Stubblefield. After trimming a three-page résumé down to one, Doran said meeting with Stubblefield was, “an eye opener.”
“My résumé didn’t really represent my skills or who I was,” she said. “She helped me put 13 years of work in one page; she taught me how to highlight my skills and offered suggestions on what I should focus on.”
The two also reviewed job postings for the area and worked to match Doran’s skills with employers’ needs.
A few weeks after their meeting and résumé’ makeover, Doran received a call from St. Mary’s Hospital for an interview.
“When I got called in, I had it ready and I was confident to hand it in,” she said about her polished résumé.
Doran is scheduled to begin her new job soon.
The Fleet and Family Support Center can also provide leads for on- and off-base employment opportunities, assist with exploring education and career training options, and direct them to resources for starting their own business.
Spouses interested in the priority placement program or spouse’s preference here or at their new location must register with the Government’s Military Spouse Program at the Fleet and Family Support Center. FFSC staff can explain how these two programs can be used for federal employment and the registration process.
For more information on employment services or any other life skills service offered free of charge at the Fleet and Family Support Center, visit http://cnic.navy.mil/Patuxent, click on Fleet and Family Readiness and then Support Services, or call the Fleet and Family Support Center at 301-342-4911.