Once that exciting "honeymoon period" of being back in the U.S. was over, and we decided to give living in Florida a whirl, I slowly began to realize that the transition to civilian life wasn't going to be as easy as first thought. Especially when it came to employment.
The Job Hunt | I am not going to sugar-coat this at all. For Chris, this whole job hunting process effing sucks (we'll get to my job in just a moment). Gone are the days where landing a job with a defense contractor were plentiful and secure. Sure job opportunities may have been greater up in the DC area for Chris to find a job than down here in Florida. But we lived in the Northern Virginia for 9 years and did not want to go back to living the life of a "beltway bandit" (as commuters are so lovingly called in the DC area). DC traffic is awful. He's done his time at the Pentagon. It was time for a change. One would think that living near an Air Force Base (we are about 40 minutes from MacDill) it would be fairly easy for a retired military officer to find work with a defense contractor. But that has not been the case.
It has been extremely frustrating to watch Chris apply online for job after job (civilian or government) and then just play the waiting game. You tweak your resume and cover letter to fit the job description. You hope that resume or cover letter will have those special catch words or phrases that alert whatever automated system HR uses to to tell the hiring manager to contact you for an interview. You sit and wait for that phone call. Weeks pass and you hear nothing.
And while there are dozens and dozens of companies in the private sector that hire vets, they are hiring them at an entry-level position. He has gone through workshops that help "translate" his military responsibilities, leadership positions and projects that he managed on his resume so employers in the private sector can understand how they correlate to the civilian world. Even after doing that, it doesn't seem to matter. After having a 26-year career in the military he still has to prove himself by starting at the bottom and work his way up.
And that is something we have come to terms with. After months of filling out applications and not getting anywhere, he got bored and really needed to get out of the house. He took a part-time, minimum wage job with a company that is recognized worldwide, with GREAT perks! It's not a permanent thing and I will tell you more about it my final post of this "Year In Review" series.
As for me, I went to work at the same time we were moving into our home. Not the best timing, but one of us needed to be working in order for us to move out of the condo we were renting month-to-month (see this post) and into this house. I took a full-time position as a Marketing Coordinator/Graphic Designer with a high-end medical rehabilitation equipment company (read a bit more about that here).
While the pay was good, by April there just wasn't enough work to continue in the postion full-time. I was getting bored. There wasn't enough creative stimulation. I went down to part-time in order to work on more classes at Scrapaneers and photography.
Things are still changing rapidly when it comes to both of our employment situations. All for the better, I think. I will fill you in at the final post of this series. But in the mean time, those of you who have gone through this process, what was it like for you and your spouse? Was it frustrating? Is the job he has today the same one he had when he first retired? Feel free to leave a comment!