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SECO seeks to support spouses

DoD program offers a variety of job-related resources for military spouses

Spouses in need of jobs can turn to the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities for support. File photo

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The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program was created in 2010 to provide military spouses with the resources and tools they need to achieve their educational and employment goals. 

In addition to being a military spouse and parent of a military child, SECO Associate Director, C. Eddy Mentzer, has been committed to working with military families for over 25 years and providing resources for career-minded military spouses, no matter where their next PCS takes them.

What resources does SECO offer that you feel best support military spouses?

The SECO program provides expert education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide. This includes comprehensive information, tools and resources to support career exploration, education/training/licensing, employment readiness and career connections.

The four main components of service delivery for the SECO program are:

  • The MySECO website www.myseco.militaryonesource.mil, which provides virtual tools and resources to assist military spouses in the pursuit of their educational and employment goals;
  • The Military OneSource SECO Career Center, where certified career counselors provide comprehensive counseling services at no cost;
  • The My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA) www.aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa, which is a workforce development initiative that provides up to $4,000 of tuition assistance for licensure and education to eligible military spouses; and
  • The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) www.msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil, which is an employment and career partnership connecting military spouses with more than 320 partner employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers.

Are there any specific skills or careers that tend to be most portable for spouses that find themselves PCSing often?  

Portable careers have evolved a great deal in a very short amount of time due to tremendous advantages in technology.  Healthcare continues to be one of the largest fields that military spouses pursue.  We typically think of healthcare as doctors and nurses, but the reality is that there are multiple sub-fields within the healthcare industry that may be of interest to spouses.  Medical billing and coding is a field that is often easily conducted from a remote location and could be a great fit for a military spouse.  Other areas that lend themselves to portability are business operations, information technology support and development, and real estate.

What are the first steps a military spouse can make before or after a PCS to secure employment at a new duty station?

As a military spouse myself, I used to wait until I arrived at a new location before I would start looking for employment, and I quickly learned that this was often too late. The truth is that spouses need to start looking for their next opportunity as soon as they know their next duty station. It's equally true that this can be difficult, as the spouse is often the linchpin in the entire moving process, but finding the time to explore employment opportunities is key.  Spouses can connect directly with the Employment Readiness Office at the next location to explore local opportunities.  

I also recommend connecting with one of our SECO career counselors who can assist in any number of areas from job search strategies, to resumé assistance and connecting them directly to employers who have committed to recruiting, hiring and retaining military spouses.  It's a toll-free call at 800.342.9647 - these career counselors are all master's level, certified counselors and many of them are military spouses themselves.  The best part is that spouses can contact them as often as they want; and they are provided at no cost.  This is a huge benefit that many spouses do not even know exists.

What do mil spouses need to know about applying for government positions?

Applying for government positions can often be a lengthy process.  In my own experiences, I have applied for positions and then not been contacted for an interview for eight months.  But I want spouses to know there are resources through the Priority Placement Program (Spouse) - they can register for positions they qualify for at their local Civilian Personnel Office.  This program is only for DoD positions and is not used by other federal agencies.  If a spouse is interested in a government position, she or he should not rely solely on this program, but should also apply for individual positions they feel they are qualified for.  The number of positions and pay grades are limited through the priority placement program and spouses do not know in advance if they have been matched to a specific job or not.

Whether it is a government or civilian position, spouses need to make sure that their resumé and application contain all of the required documentation and that the information they provide relates directly to the position applied for.  I recommend that spouses read the position description, qualifications and duties to make sure the resumé/application is responsive to all of these areas.  In today's fast-paced work environments, hiring managers rarely read a full resumé.  They scan for key words and make decisions without reading the entire package.

Finally, networking is key.  Whether it's done virtually through social media or in person, who you know still plays a key role.  Once you know where your next location will be, do some research and look for companies or organizations where you may be interested in working.  Reach out and introduce yourself, provide basic background, and let them know you would be interested in any future opportunities they may have.  

Connect with SECO on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DoDMilSpouse and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/groups/4159976.

To locate installation Employment Readiness Offices visit Military OneSource at www.militaryonesource.mil and scroll to the Installation Program Directory at the bottom of the page.

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