“>Merry Christmas, everyone!
Anyone seeking a new job or wanting to change careers learns quickly the power of social media. However, older applicants and those who’ve been outside the job market – such as military veterans and their spouses – may face unique obstacles beyond the normal stress of a job search. What does preliminary research tell us about how social media helps or hinders members of the military and their families making a career transition to civilian life?
Bluvshtein, Kruzic, and Massaglia (2005) examined people making career transitions aided by social media through the lens of Alfred Adler, a leading individual psychologist who transitioned from military doctor to civilian life in a country that lost. According to these authors, Adler viewed relationships at the core of human nature, traits that get especially tested during unemployment, which fuel emotional stress and doubts of self-worth (p. 144). These researchers cited previous studies that view social media contributing to those feelings of isolation but refuted these theories, noting, “We believe that social media does not displace face-to-fact social connections but makes them stronger” (p. 147). Bluvshtein et al. offered six steps to help those in career transition on social media and achieving lasting meaning from those connections (p. 149).
Active military members may distrust or not take advantage of social media opportunities, according to Frame (2016); veterans may view social media as a way for terrorists to track down their family members instead of as an essential career search tool (p. 170). However, members of the military are comfortable with computer-based training and often keep in touch with family back home with Facebook. Frame cited a 2015 study that noted that 95% of recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates and post jobs on Twitter, 92% post jobs and 79% hire people from those connections. About three-fourths of recruiters use social media to increase employee referrals, according to this study (p. 171). Frame suggested ways to protect personal information so military families can feel more comfortable with these public digital networks. Frame suggested that members of the military searching for jobs get active on LinkedIn, build connections with military friends and then increase civilian connections, follow-up on job leads, use less military jargon, and explain skills without giving away classified information (174-175).
Military spouses in particular face career search challenges that include frequent relocation, history of unrelated jobs, living in somewhat poor job markets, and lack of seniority, according to McBride and Cleymans. They cited a 2013 survey that identified today’s military spouse as a 33-year-old female with some post-secondary education and some children in the home who makes about a third less than her civilian peers (p. 92). Read a more entertaining take on unemployed military spouses here.
However, these resilient spouses also tend to possess valuable and employable skills that include adaptability, flexibility, creative thinking, problem solving, and organizational skills, but may not necessary have the know-how to communicate the value of those skills to hiring managers. McBride and Cleymans suggested that military spouses use these job-search strategies: create a career lattice, increase marketability, understand education opportunities, learn job-market lingo, document accomplishments, and leverage social media (p. 93).
Bluvshtein, M., Kruzic, M., & Massaglia, V. (2005, Summer). From netthinking to networking to netfeeling: Using social media to help people in job transitions. Journal of Individual Psychology 71(2). 143-154.
Frame, P. P. (2016). Coaching veterans to understand the value and proper usage of social media. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 32(2), 170-176.
McBride, P., & Cleymans, L. (2014, Fall). A paradigm shift: Strategies for assisting military spouses in obtaining a successful career path. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 30(3). 92-102.
January 15, 2009: The head dude in charge of the investment advisory firm where I worked herded us together into a conference room around 11 a.m. He dismissed about a third of the group, so those who remained could pack our cubes and leave our jobs behind.
When I got home, the news featured an airline pilot who successfully landed in the middle of the Hudson River, saving all those aboard. “Sully”, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, will be released after Labor Day.
Okay, I thought after listening to the evening news broadcast that night, perhaps I’m not having the worst day after all.
I picked myself up and found a way to make it through 18 months of unemployment for the first time since I graduated from college, well, a long time ago. I felt embarrassed to tell family members and friends that I “lost” my job, sad that a part of my self-identity was missing, confused because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, and angry at the boss who told us at the holiday party that everything would be okay.
Soon I realized that I needed to get out of the house. I found something to do in the church office and then offered to help with a new job-networking group at church. Before long, I became the leader of the weekly group that brought together white-collar professionals, blue-collar workers, and marginalized unemployees. We shared snacks, resume tips, job leads, empathetic conversations, and brainstorms. I attended career search groups held in the west end of town and returned with success stories, career search tips, guest speakers, and online resources. Our little group even made the local weekly free newspaper.
In July 2011, I received a call from a Charlotte recruiter, who connected me with a hiring manager in Boston and a team leader in Trenton. I’ve been working from my remote home office ever since.
Based on my experiences leading a job-networking group during the recession, here’s what I know for certain about career searches:
When you recover from your job loss, you might find as I did that the time for some rest and self-reflection led to something even better. I’m now working for the biggest competitor of the company that laid me off in 2008. 🙂
(These opinions reflect only those of the author.)