Local military spouses and veterans overcome hurdles in finding employment

Mark Cannon, Cynthia Carcillo
Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 16:47:14-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Finding a job can be tough for anyone, but for military members, veterans and spouses, the hurdles can be even more difficult to overcome.

“I think a lot of companies are interested in hiring guardsman, veterans, officers, enlisted, but we struggle to show how what we did the military directly translates to what they’re offering in the civilian world in terms of a job,” veteran and National Guardsman Terrence Mac told News 3.

Mac attended the Norfolk Veterans Job Fair Thursday at the Decker Half Moone Center. RecruitMilitary, a Chesapeake-based organization, hosted the event with 60+ organizations to attract, hire and retain military-trained talent in the Hampton Roads area, to include transitioning military, veterans, military spouses and dependents.

Mac said a common issue with military members is marketing themselves.

“If you can’t verbalize it well enough, that can lead to a missed opportunity for a lot of service members,” Mac said.

It's not just an issue for the members, but for military spouses as well, who face their own set of challenges. Kelly Coughlan said she has fought to get a job throughout her husband's 17-year military career.

"You are moving every two to three years and kind of always in the transition phase where you’re trying to find employment, and having to revamp your resume and explain those gaps, which you sort of do in a cover letter,” Coughlan said.

Coughlan said in the past, she's utilized volunteer roles to supplement her resume where she did not have steady work. She said there's also an issue with qualifications for jobs that don't always carry across state lines.

“If you’re in a career where it’s something that requires certifications or some sort of credentials that don’t transfer from state to state, that adds additional barriers,” Coughlan said.

Mac said networking events like the one Thursday help bridge gaps between the military and civilian sector. He said it's also important to be confident.

“Work on your elevator pitch; work on connecting; work on getting into an organization before you even interview,” Mac said.

There are more upcoming career fairs happening in Hampton Roads. For a list from the Virginia Employment Commission, click here.

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