FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – A permanent change of station, or PCS, is something most spouses will experience during their time married to a service member. The change may seem daunting to those going through it the first time, but Holly Nusom, Patrice Hamilton and Abrell Jones at Fort Campbell’s Spouse Employment Center said there are steps spouses can take to lessen the stress of the move on themselves, especially if changing jobs is a primary concern.
According to staff at the Spouse Employment Center, planning ahead rather than waiting until the last minute to consider employment options at a new location is crucial to successfully transitioning into a new job.
Jones, an employment readiness adviser at the Spouse Employment Center, said many spouses don’t know they can start applying for federal jobs up to 30 days before they leave Fort Campbell, and that this is something spouses should use to their advantage.
When applying for federal jobs on www.USAJOBS.gov, the spouse will be prompted to self-certify by completing a checklist that will determine eligibility for spousal preference. In addition to the checklist, a marriage certificate and PCS orders must be uploaded into USAJOBS with the application packet as proof of eligibility, she said.
The Spouse Employment Center staff is available to help spouses seeking federal employment ensure they have everything they need before moving on to their next location.
Hamilton, an employment services counselor at the Spouse Employment Center, said spouses should consider creating a Military OneSource account if they have not already done so.
“There’s lots of good information there with regards to preparation and guides for the PCS move,” she said “It was designed as a one-stop platform across DOD in support of any of the transition services.”
Nusom added that keeping a resume up to date is essential.
“We definitely want to include any current job experience and they want to update that before they leave. That also includes any volunteer work,” she said.
Talk to your employer
Nusom said when a PCS is on the horizon, spouses shouldn’t rule out the possibility of being able to continue in the same role they currently have but at another installation.
“Spouses who are currently working may want to have a conversation with their current employer to see if there is a way that they can transfer to their next location if it’s a national company and there’s a location where they’re moving,” she said.
It is important to consider all options available before the PCS and to keep an open mind about potential employment opportunities, Nusom said.
“They can have that conversation about potentially transferring or if they work in a role that can be performed remotely, that could also be a conversation that a spouse could have with their supervisor to see if there’s an opportunity for them to work in a remote role once they PCS,” she said.
Know your resources
If transferring isn’t an option or a spouse is looking to start a new position at his or her next location, Nusom said there are a number of professional resources spouses can use that are designed to help with job placement.
“If they’re not moving to an installation there are other resources like American Job Centers that are located throughout the United States,” she said. “That’s a great resource to find support and job search assistance anywhere around the nation.”
She added the Department of Defense program, Spouse Education Career Opportunities, or SECO, is another valuable resource that helps military spouses regardless of whether they are moving to another installation or not and even helps if they are moving overseas. SECO provides comprehensive, holistic career and education resources to military spouses.
Social media is a resource
Hamilton said spouses also should remember to use social media groups to their advantage when planning ahead of a PCS.
“Connect with the unofficial networks, like the military spouse club,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes when you’re part of social media groups, there are so many people who are part of working organizations and agencies there that can actually share viable information about employment in the area.”
Getting in touch with military spouse social media groups who are established in the area a spouse is transitioning to is a great way to get an idea of what’s available in real time, she said. Groups like those groups typically stay up-to-date on what’s happening and will have an idea of what resources are available.
Make an appointment
Nusom, Hamilton and Jones all hope spouses will use the resources available at the Spouse Employment Center before leaving Fort Campbell.
“We can help them identify similar resources at their next installation,” Nusom said. “If they’re going to another Army base, many installations have an employment readiness office, and we can help connect them to that service where they’re moving to.”
TheFort Campbell Spouse Employment Center is located 5662 Screaming Eagle Blvd., and spouses can call 270-412-1720 with any questions they may have or make an appointment for a visit.