Chapter 1: Why Hire Military Spouses to Build Your Dream Team
The military-connected community contains millions of veterans and military spouses from across the world. Each member of this community comes with his or her own educational background, as well as personal and professional experiences. Many members of the military-connected community are highly educated, are experienced leaders, and have adaptable personalities. Despite these traits, the military-connected community is often overlooked during a company’s hiring process. This article will go into detail covering the benefits of hiring from the military-connected community, the difference between hiring veterans and hiring military spouses, and how your company can benefit from hiring from this unique, untapped talent pool.
Military Spouse Employment Statistics
Before we get into the benefits of hiring military spouses and how they can allow you to build your dream team, it’s important to understand the landscape of military spouse employment and the opportunities that exist, or the lack thereof.
40% Hold a College or Professional Degree
Many military spouses are highly educated, with 40% holding a college degree compared to 29.7% of the civilian population. An additional 34.4% of military spouses have received some college education. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually military spouses who received higher degrees that are more likely to face unemployment. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 51% of those who completed high school or less have faced unemployment as a military spouse, 67% of those who completed college faced unemployment, and 70% of those who completed a professional degree or graduate-level education have faced unemployment. As a candidate’s level of education increases, there are fewer positions that meet their qualifications. In comparison to the general population of college graduates, only 2.1% face unemployment. This means that most companies are missing out on a large pool of educated candidates by overlooking military spouses.
Unemployment Rate of 26%
Military spouses constantly hear the same response during job interviews: “You’re a military spouse? Does that mean you’re going to have to leave in a year?” The lack of flexibility in the job market has made it difficult for military spouses to find and keep a job they enjoy, leading to high rates of unemployment. Military spouses face unemployment rates of 26%, while the country’s unemployment rate is 4.0%. That’s a disheartening difference, yet there is little discussion among companies and economists about reducing the unemployment rate of military spouses, especially in comparison to the number of conversations about the country’s general unemployment rate. However, if more companies were to increase the flexibility in their work environment to include fully remote positions, military spouses would be easy to retain despite their required travels.
90% Are Underemployed
Although most military spouses are intelligent, many struggle to find work that actually fits the challenging career that they desire. 90% of military spouses have skill sets and knowledge that is beyond the requirements of their current job. In comparison, 34% of college graduates in the general US population face underemployment, and only 12.6% of all those 18 and older in the US population face underemployment. Even military spouses with years of professional experience, who have contracted million dollar projects, and bought and sold businesses can only find work stocking shelves. With the likelihood of switching companies and jobs due to frequent moving, it’s tough to advance a career if you have to start from scratch every couple of years. Additionally, depending on where troops are stationed, there may not be many companies or options to choose from, limiting the ability to find positions that are qualified for their skill sets. Both of these factors contribute to the high rate of underemployment.
Because military spouses are overqualified but underemployed, they make up a large untapped pool of professional talent. There are several great partnership programs, resources, and companies that are dedicated to helping military spouses find work. Instant Teams, for example, was built specifically for helping the military-connected community find remote work and is a great resource for finding professionals from within this talent pool. Companies can gain a lot of talent and experience by hiring military spouses for their teams.
Benefits of Hiring Military Spouses
Military spouses have learned how to be flexible and adaptable to any situation. Once their husband or wife receives a PCS (permanent change of station) order, they have to be ready to manage the house, finances, and family independently. With frequent moves every few years, military spouses have also become great at adapting to new environments, new cultures, and new people. Especially for industries that are constantly changing, military spouses make great employees and can bring new ideas to the table and help shift a product, service, or company to the changing industry.
High Retention Rates and ROI
Despite popular belief, military spouses can be retained at the same level or higher than the general population. On average, military spouses move every two to four years. However, the average civilian employee will only stay at one company for 4.2 years, and that retention rate is even lower for Millennials, who stay at one company for an average of 2.8 years. When you compare military spouses to the general population, their retention is at least equal to their counterparts. If you hire a military spouse for a remote position, you could keep them even longer!
Open to Contract and Project-Based Work
Contract and project-based work can be very difficult jobs to fill. Many professionals are looking for more than a one-time project not just because of the consistent income but because they need other benefits that these types of jobs don’t offer. But military spouses already have awesome benefits from being a part of the military community, which makes them more open to this type of work. Contract and project-based positions need to be filled by innovative and self-motivated employees, just like any other position, in order to drive performance and continue to grow. Military spouses are a great solution for this common challenge.
Top Companies Hiring Military Spouses
Military spouses hold a lot of talent, which is why top companies from around the US are hiring them. Wondering what companies have already committed to hiring military spouses? Here are 2019’s top 10 companies that were recognized as Military Spouse Friendly Employers:
- Combined Insurance Company of America
- United Rentals, Inc.
- Aviall (a Boeing Company)
- Motel 6/Studio 6
- Prudential Financial
- Camping World
More and more companies are learning that this untapped pool of talent is a huge asset to their organization and are taking action to diversify their teams by hiring military spouses.