Introducing a new “Glow” contributor, Adela Garcia Duncan, MBA. She is a former military wife and an accomplished media executive who has worked at Univision, CBS local affiliates and FOX news stations in sales and marketing.
Is this true or only patriotic propaganda?
I gave up a six-figure paying career to follow my Army husband’s career. I never dreamed I would have a problem landing another job, especially in the same industry I worked in for 13 years. Boy, was I wrong!
I applied to several companies, and I was told I was either overqualified or too new to the market. I didn’t understand then that I was divulging too much information during the interview process. These organizations located in military towns already knew what to look for and what to ask to figure out I was a military spouse. They were not willing to hire and lose me in two to three years. I knew it was illegal or inappropriate to ask personal questions such as, “Are you married?” and “Do you have children?” and “What made you move to this city?”
After my first duty station experience with my husband, I quickly learned how to prepare and walk into an interview, what to agree to say, and which questions to divert the interviewers’ attention away from.
In April 2011, the then second lady, now First Lady of the United States Jill Biden teamed up with the First Lady Michelle Obama to create the national initiative Joining Forces. It highlighted the needs of U.S. military families, especially the need to hire more military spouses. According to Deloitte, “One of the most pressing of those challenges is staggering unemployment (24%) and underemployment (31–51%) among military spouses, rates that have held for years despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to address the issue and a complex network of nonprofit support.1
To add to the irony of this blog business’ in military towns were shouting they supported military spouses but didn’t. They would support military spouses if they didn’t work for them. My higher management directly told me not to hire a couple of candidates I had narrowed down from several applications at one company I worked as a manager. He had told me he searched them on Facebook and saw that they were married to military men. They did not want to waste time and money training these spouses to leave in two years. I explained they were the most qualified, but they gave me the order not to hire them.
Here are a few things you can do not allow an employer to know if you are a military spouse.
- Do not wear your wedding band to the interview. (If you have a tan line, try t cover it up.)
- Do not divulge you are married or have any children. The interviewer(s) should not be asking these questions in the first place. Divert, and if you cannot divert, then say, “No.” You are saying, “No” to the question altogether, not lying. If you say, “I prefer not to answer these questions, they will know you are aware they crossed the line and will not hire you because they will fear retaliation to human resources or think you are saying that because you are married and have children.
- Keep your Social media private.
- When asked why you moved to this city, I answered, “I decided to relocate for career progression.”
This strategy has worked for me in the past. Many employers later admitted they didn’t realize I was married or had any children after working more than six months at that company.
If you or someone you know needs additional guidance, download the manual on employment for military spouses.