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Mission Family: Résumé tool helps spouses highlight experience

Apr. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Career Spark

With the military’s heavy moving season upon us, the thoughts of many spouses often turn to résumé writing.

Even if your résumé is up to date, you might consider refreshing it with a new tool developed specifically for military spouses called Career Spark, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Among other things, it helps spouses translate volunteer experience into practical work experience. The tool includes information about some 900 volunteer positions — not just volunteering on military bases, but also for other organizations, such as the PTA, for example, said Noreen O’Neil, director of the chamber foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Program.

“Once you start using it, it triggers other things you may have done,” O’Neil said.

It’s free for spouses of active-duty service members, veterans, National Guardsmen and reservists, as well as surviving spouses.

The foundation commissioned Washington, D.C.-based marketing agency iostudio to develop the tool. They worked with various military organizations to get information about volunteer position titles and responsibilities. They also worked with Blue Star Families, which has an employment tool kit that provides information to help spouses translate volunteer positions into skills that employers need.

Career Spark uses this information to populate its résumé tool. For example, a spouse club treasurer’s job would translate into skills such as paying bills, maintaining a budget and working with auditors. It asks for work experience and volunteer experience in the same section, guiding spouses to enter their information, then populating the résumé with the information in an employer-friendly format.

Military spouses, as well as human resources directors and recruiters in many sectors, have tested and reviewed Career Spark, which can be found at

“Being a military spouse means constantly juggling a lot of different demands and responsibilities, responding to shifting priorities and working well under pressure — all skills that employers find valuable,” said Noeleen Tillman, managing director of Blue Star Families. “Career Spark helps military spouses translate those skills and many others into résumés that resonate with civilian hiring managers.”

The tool is similar to its companion developed by the chamber foundation, the Personal Branding Résumé Engine for veterans and transitioning service members, which helps translate military experience into skills that civilian employers understand.

In addition to the résumé tool, Career Spark provides information on a variety of job-searching topics — such as tips for dressing for job interviews in different industries (with pictures), and how to get an interview. It connects spouses with virtual networks that help maintain connections through military moves and into life after the military.

Some people may enjoy writing résumés, but for many others it can be a chore. It’s a good idea to always keep your résumé up to date, regardless of whether you’re actively searching for a job. Why not try out a tool that could possibly give you that edge to get the perfect job?

It might make résumé-writing easier and even — dare I say — fun.

Karen Jowers is the wife of a military retiree.

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