The Over 35 On-Ramp: How to Find Work After SAHM

Career Decisions Ahead

You can see the end of the road, can’t you? As a Stay-At-Home Mom (or Dad) you have been driving along on your journey of life for years. You are competent, comfortable, sure of your direction.

You and your servicemember are now in that near-40 cruising stage -- raising your family and running your household and dealing with every deployment and PCS move. You’ve got this.

And then your kids start driving themselves to their soccer games. Your mailbox is stuffed with ads from colleges and credit cards addressed to your offspring. Your servicemember starts talking vaguely about retiring.

Suddenly, you realize that this trip is ending. The real work of being a SAHM or SAHD is nearly done. Someday soon -- maybe even now -- you will need to get off the SAHM track and find the career on-ramp for the 20 percent of military spouses who are over 35. But how do you do that?

Good question. We hear this from military spouses in our workshops all the time. We hear the cry, “How do I go back to the work world when my skills are out of date, my self confidence is lagging and I don’t know what I want to do next?”

The best place to start is right where you are -- but start NOW. Tap into key resources provided by the military, most of which are free to you, services that would cost a lot outside of the military. Here are three on-ramps military spouses can take whether you need a job today or four years from today:

Get Yourself a FREE Career Counselor

One great place to start is at the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) at Military OneSource. Connect with a SECO consultant, bachelor’s- and master’s-level advisers and counselors, who can help with your career planning process.

They provide career assessments, interest and skills inventories, and earning potential metrics.


If you need additional education and training, they help you create a plan of action that considers financial aid options, education and training program resources, and credential/license information.

They help you perfect your resume, hone your interviewing skills and share job search techniques.

SECO consultants can help you get the right job in the right career by leveraging existing relationships and resources, such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), and Start the process by calling (800) 342-9647.

Translate Military Life Experiences Into Resume Points

Blue Star Families developed a Military Spouse Resume Toolkit that explains how to translate volunteer work and military life experiences into effective resume points.

The toolkit also outlines strategies for overcoming gaps in employment on resumes and how to talk about gaps in job interviews. It includes military spouse-specific career advice and sample resumes tailored for different types of employment, including corporate, public sector and nonprofit jobs.

This all sounds like work, right? Well, it is. Many of us spend more time planning our wedding or family vacations than we do planning our lives. But the good news is you don’t have to do this alone.

Put Together Your Dare To Dream Team

Next time you go to the commissary, look around. You aren’t the only SAHM or SAHD approaching 40 who is looking for a career on-ramp.

In our book, Military Spouse Journey, we found that getting together with a group of like-minded people was one of the most powerful things you can do to find work that you will love.

A Dare To Dream Team is a small group of people whose only goal is to help every member of the team get what he or she wants and to help each member create the kind of life that works for them. Part of what a team does is help each person figure out what that kind of life is.

The group works sort of like Weight Watchers, holding members accountable for taking those small, scary steps that make a difference. Your team members provide ideas and resources to keep you taking action, moving forward.

A Dare To Dream Team is perfect for a SAHM ready to move on to a new stage of life. To find out more about how to put together a team, you can download a free “how to” Dare to Dream Team Guide. You can read stories about military spouses who have had amazing results with the help of their teams in Military Spouse Journey.

The Stay-At-Home Mom (or Dad) part of your life is important to so many military spouses. The next part of the journey can be even better. So start looking for your career on-ramp today.

-- Kathie Hightower & Holly Scherer are the co-authors of Military Spouse Journey. Their career workshop Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military has been presented to military spouses of all branches of the armed services throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea for more than 18 years.

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