Many military-affiliated professionals and spouses ask themselves the same question each time they apply for a new job: “Should I or am I required to disclose my military experience?” While you may not be required to disclose the information, not disclosing it could create problems. Depending on your specific military experience, you may or may not be protected under the law. Keeping the following in mind during the application and job interviewing process can help to provide some guidance in a gray area.
Disclosing Military Experience on a Job Application
Many employment applications touch on an applicant’s affiliation with the military. While answering the question is not necessarily required and can be left blank, not disclosing any affiliation could potentially result in legal employment termination if the military affiliation conflicts with employment requirements.
The below serves as a basis for what should be considered during the job search process when you have questions about if you should disclose military status in a job application, depending on your particular situation.
Prior Active Duty
Disclosing your military affiliation and military experience is pretty much required if you plan on using the experience for career progression. Whether you have four or 20+ years of service, your support for the country counts as career experience, and you should be proud of it. There are laws protecting you from discrimination, such as the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Returning from war or deployment is a huge adjustment; returning with a disability and leaving the service is extremely difficult. The transition into the civilian world can be like navigating your way through a maze. When applying and interviewing for a position, being honest about your military experience is important. Equally important is being upfront and honest on how your disability will or will not affect your employment, as well as any accommodations that you may need. As with veterans who are not disabled, disabled veterans are protected by the USERRA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Reserve and Guard Members
Members of the Reserve and Guard are in a complicated situation. Duly serving both the civilian sector and military, military affiliation will eventually cause conflict with civilian employment. Being upfront on the application is essential because not answering the questions can leave the future uncertain due to potential termination for not disclosing military service. However, Reserve and Guard members are protected from discrimination under the USERRA.
Unfortunately, this group does not fare as well as the others above in relation to employment discrimination. There is very little that military spouses can do in terms of legal protection from discrimination because the spouse is not actually military, although tied to the military. During the interviewing process, it is illegal for employers to ask certain interview questions about many personal details, but asking about military affiliation is not out of bounds. For military spouses, the best course of action is to be honest, but guide questions toward your experience, qualifications, and why you can do the job better than anyone else being interviewed.
For more information or if you have questions on what and when to disclose, contact your local on-base legal office or your local Equal Employment Opportunity office.
Military-Specific Employment Resources
Fortunately, a variety of resources exist to help military spouses, veterans, and other military-affiliated professionals find and retain civilian work.
The Department of Defense’s MSEP recognizes that military spouses encounter a 24% rate of unemployment and a 25% wage gap compared to civilians. MSEP helps connect job seekers with more than 400 partner employers that are committed to recruiting and hiring military spouses.
Military-transition.org provides data and insight to help veterans, service members, spouses, and employers prepare for and understand civilian employment and the military-to-civilian transition process.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched HOH to connect current and former service members and military spouses with nationwide employment opportunities with more than 2,000 companies. HOH provides services that include resume building, a jobs portal, and a virtual mentorship program.
ACP is a nonprofit organization that provides one-on-one mentoring, networking, and online career advice for veterans and active-duty spouses to help them find meaningful employment.
Military OneSource provides support, information, and answers on a variety of issues regarding tax services, relocation and deployment tools, spouse employment help, and webinars and online training.
In addition, many companies are especially supportive of hiring military spouses for remote jobs, which gives them the flexibility they need to take their jobs with them wherever they may have to move. If you’re a military spouse looking for the perfect remote job, check out these companies:
How FlexJobs Can Help Regardless of Military Status
For many military professionals and spouses, remote and flexible jobs are the ideal complement to a military lifestyle. If you’re looking for a job after military service or while your spouse is on active duty, we’ve got lots of resources for you. Here are a few to get you started:
And, with daily updated flexible jobs in more than 50 career categories, we’re here to support and help you with your job search, no matter your military status. Tour our job search platform today!
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