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Spouse Tip of the Week - Looking & Sounding Your Best at Military Friendly Job Fairs

Source: Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) Weekly eNewsletter

Job Fairs that are sponsored by Department of Defense (DoD), military friendly organizations, and the US and local Chambers of Commerce gather dozens of public and private sector employers in central locations for the purpose of recruiting military spouses and service members.  Recruiters from participating companies have exciting job openings at many levels and specialties within their organizations - including technical positions, management positions, and career ladders. 

There are hundreds of job fairs scheduled across the nation each year - in communities where military populations live, retire, and make career transitions.  Military spouses are encouraged to use these fairs to find employment each time they relocate.

Attending a job fair is not a casual activity.  It's part of the job search and interview process.  So, be prepared to look your best, sound your best and present your education and career history in ways that will grab the attention of potential employers.  You can be the perfect match. 

Job Fair Readiness:  Four things you can do to make your job fair participation successful

Do your homework.   Go online and research the employers who are participating in upcoming job fairs.  Learn about their businesses, financial status, geographic locations, career ladders and virtual work opportunities.  Are these employers located where your service member's career path will take you?  Are they currently participating in the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) program?  Be prepared to respond to their recruiters thoughtful questions that are not covered in online information - information with which they expect you to already be familiar.  Don't forget to research salary ranges and benefit packages for their companies and the regions in which they have facilities. 

Talk to a DoD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Counselor at Military OneSource at (800) 342-9647 about what people look like who are in the career field you want to enter.  How do they dress?  What kind of shoes do they wear? How do they wear their hair?  How much make-up do they wear?  Do they carry a portfolio, a brief case or hand held electronic devices?  Remember, if you look the part, you will appear to fit their organizational culture and profile of current employees. Career counselors can give you tips on "dressing for career success" for targeted employers - including private sector and government.  Go to career and job fairs dressed for the job!

Practice answering tough interview questions.  Be ready for an on-the-spot interview.  Think of ways you can put your best foot forward, be proud of your educational and career accomplishments, and make your answers positive and thoughtful.   Show enthusiasm for your past work experience and promote what you can do for your next employer.  Be ready to discuss your mobile military lifestyle and how it has made you strong, flexible, and resilient.   Describe your best traits.  Are you a team player, good leader and manager?  Are you well organized?  Do you work well under pressure in stressful conditions?  Are you loyal, patriotic, and a strong, effective communicator?  These are the traits employers want in their twenty-first century workforce.  These traits describe most military spouses.

Build several versions of your résumé.  Depending on the skill sets being sought by participating employers, you will want to bring forward specific sections and key words on your résumé.  With this in mind, it is a good idea to prepare more than one version of your resume and carry copies of each version with you.  Use the version that best markets your strengths (skills, knowledge, abilities, experience) and makes you the perfect match for each job opening.

Be ready for an on-the-spot job interview and job offer.  Employers participate in job fairs to find highly qualified candidates for many corporate locations.  They want to fill positions as quickly as possible.  If you have done your business research, practiced your interview skills, honed your resume and dressed to "look the part," be prepared for an on-the-spot job interview and job offer.  Are you ready?  First impressions count!  What would you say if an employer offered you a job?  Are you prepared to negotiate a fair salary and benefit package that meets your personal and family needs?  Do you need to discuss job offers with your career counselor, mentor or family?  Think about what you will do if you get more than one job offer.  These are all possible outcomes.  Be prepared.

Career Readiness Resources:  Help yourself be fully prepared to attend future job fairs

Military OneSource Spouse Career Center (Career and Education Section / Spouse Career Center)
Call (800) 342-9647 for Spouse Education, Career, and Employment Counseling Services.

MyCAA [My Career Advancement Accounts Program] (See eligibility criteria and guidelines on front page)
Offers  up to $4,000 of Financial Assistance for Education, Training, Licenses and Credentials to spouses of service members in pay grades of E1-E5, W1-W2 and O1-O2 serving on Active Duty.  Call (800) 342-9647 for Spouse Education, Career, and Employment Counseling Services.

Ask for additional sources of financial assistance available for all military spouses regardless of pay grade and career status.

MSEP [Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program]  
Watch for Job Fair Schedule information in the Events Section.  You can post your resume on this web site.  It has almost 100,000 jobs posted by military spouse friendly companies.  It also links spouses to website landing pages for Human Resource Departments of participating employers.  Call (800) 342-9647 for Spouse Education, Career, and Employment Counseling Services.

Career OneStop Centers [Department of Labor]  
Visit this site for career, salary and benefit information in different career fields and geographic locations.  This site also provides Career OneStop Center locations in local communities that provide face-to-face career counseling services and workforce training and education programs.


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