MILITARY spouses are hiding their military connections when applying for jobs, a new study from Barclays has revealed.  

The research from the Barclays AFTER (Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement) programme showed that partners of military personnel face a number of career challenges, with as many as four in ten (39 per cent) believing that they haven’t progressed through a job application because of their partner’s career choice. A fifth (18 per cent) believe this has happened on multiple occasions.

A significant number of military spouses think there is an underlying bias against hiring them, with four in ten (38 per cent) believing that employers would be put off hiring someone if they knew that their partner was in the military. A fifth (19 per cent) of spouses have hidden the fact that they are a military partner from a potential employer.

Kevin Gartside, director of the AFTER programme, said: “Our Armed Forces are well known for their dedication and it’s important to remember that, behind the scenes, they’ll often be supported by an equally committed partner. Today’s research reminds us that this commitment can lead to military spouses having to make sacrifices in their own careers or, even worse, being potentially overlooked by employers.”

Career barriers

Two-thirds of military spouses feel that having a partner in the Armed Forces has negatively impacted their career in some way, with many having to sacrifice their own careers to accommodate their partner’s. A third report they have had to leave a job or take reduced hours because of it, while 15 per cent have had to take a job below their level of experience.

As well as a perceived bias amongst employers, many military spouses report wider barriers that hold them back when it comes to their career. 55 per cent of military spouses say their careers do (or did) take second place to their partner’s, while half think they could have been able to focus more on their career if their partner was not in the Armed Forces.

Supporting military spouses

Perhaps reflective of the nature of military life, half of military spouses say they’d benefit from a job that allowed flexible working – allowing them to keep working in the same job regardless of where their partners are posted.

In addition to this, 37 per cent say they’d like more support with finding work placements, while 28 per cent say practical advice on writing CVs and attending interviews would help them to achieve their full career potential.

Kevin Gartside added: “With the right support in place, employers of all sizes can help military spouses to find rewarding, challenging careers that suit their lifestyle – whether that’s offering flexible working or supporting them through the job application process.

Personal circumstances

Helen, a military spouse from Barclays’ office in Glasgow, said: “I’ve often hidden my military connection from past employers, as I didn’t want to be seen as asking for special treatment or allowances.

“For me, one of the most challenging aspects of being a military spouse is balancing a young family and a full-time career when, often, my husband’s working schedule has to take priority. In previous jobs, I have felt that not being able to travel or work longer hours has hindered my career.

“It wasn’t until I became enrolled in the Barclays AFTER programme that I felt comfortable talking about my personal circumstances with my employer and can now have a transparent conversation with my colleagues and arrange my work around the needs of my family.”

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