Hiring Military Spouses: A Unique Benefit of our Region
Op Ed from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT President and CEO Tony Sheridan:
At our 10th Annual Military Appreciation Breakfast in November, speakers repeated the refrain that supporting the military also means supporting their spouses. We endeavor to help all our military families feel welcome, inviting them into our schools and communities warmly with an understanding of the tremendous transition they undergo with every reassignment.
An area where we could be more supportive is welcoming spouses into our region’s workforce. This is an important part of helping them succeed personally, professionally, and financially. The benefit, however, is primarily ours.
We are lucky to have an influx of new talent on a regular basis. Military spouses bring a dedication and resilience built through service and the rigors of military life. They bring experience and ideas from their work across the country and around the world. Their service as employees or on boards broadens our perspectives and enriches the region immeasurably.
Unfortunately, 29% of military spouses report a consistent four- to six-month gap in employment as the result of a relocation. When employed, 69% of spouses report having more education and experience than required for their current position.
As a state, there is an important step we can take. We need to move forward quickly with legislative changes to improve license recognition. Currently, Connecticut stands out as a red mark on the U.S. Department of Labor website map as a state that generally does not offer reciprocity of occupational licenses for military spouses. There are a number of models adopted by other states that we can use to craft legislation that facilitates employment of military spouses with an expedited process for reciprocity of occupational licenses that is reasonable and commensurate with state standards.
In a challenging labor market, we have a valuable resource in our region. As an employer, there are ways you can tap into this talent pool by making a few changes in your approach with this advice from Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation:
- Reach out in your advertising and promotion specifically to military spouses distinct from veterans. As workforce needs shift to freelance, project-based, short-term employment, military spouses may be a perfect fit.
- In the hiring process, take a second look at a resume that may at first seem confusing—short-term employment, changes in career paths or gaps in employment—and grant an interview to learn more about a potentially talented candidate.
- Broaden your view of military spouses. Sometimes military spouses are lumped into groups: women, working mothers or veterans themselves. A broader perspective allows you to create networks that are more inclusive.
Working with our Military Affairs Council, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT is currently exploring ways that we can help you connect with military spouses in the workforce. We will keep you up-to-date with information and opportunities to connect with this pool of creative problem solvers we are so lucky to have as residents for the length of their assignments. We also enjoy the many families who make strong connections to our region and choose to remain here after their years of service.