Poll: Worst Age to Get a Job


I’ve never had a problem with a job interview when I was young. If I was in any way qualified for the job, I could make that interviewer picture me in the job and want to hire me. Until I married a sailor.

We moved four times in the first two years we were married. I worked as a phone operator, a receptionist, a clerk at a Joann Fabrics. I had a job at an office furniture place where my boss cursed me daily. I promised myself that as soon as we got to Norfolk, I would have a real job. Until we moved to Norfolk.

No one was hiring. No one was especially hiring anyone with an incomplete college degree. My husband deployed and I despaired — in every sense of that word.

I think of that feeling every time we hear from a military spouse who is having trouble finding a job. I remember that hopelessness and I don’t want any spouse to ever feel that way. That is why we are working on new spouse employment articles. We aren’t interested in the basics, but the specifics.

So the longer I work for Military.com, the more I realize that military spouses have very different experiences of joblessness depending, I think, on age.

My theory about mil spouses and employment is that we are perfectly capable of finding hourly employment (if it is available in our area).  We can read the sign at Starbucks. We are perfectly capable of filling out the application at Home Depot. A call center job is not hard to find.

Instead, things get rocky when you want other things when it comes to employment. When we listen to our readers, we start hearing the same stories over and over. We hear from young college educated spouses who have trouble getting a job because they have no experience beyond a couple of internships and no contacts in the area. We hear from highly educated spouses like lawyers and doctors and dentists and Ph.Ds who can’t get hired much less get tenure. We hear from stay-at-home moms who have done all the volunteering that they have been told to do over the years, but still have trouble finding work.

But anecdote is not data. Just because we hear a few stories doesn’t mean that these things are a pattern. So please let us know by taking our poll.  In what stage did you have the most trouble finding work?


Fill out my online form.

See what others said below!


About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.
  • Cassandra

    I am a 35 yr old SAHM. I have a degree, but havn’t used it in 5 years, not for a lack of trying. The last two bases I couldn’t even get an interview. I am hopful at this base, a job I have done before so hopfully at least an interview. Plus I didn’t mention that we are military! Cross your fingers for luck . . .

    • Rosie The Riveter

      Good Luck!!

  • Rosie The Riveter

    And this is one of my biggest fears to be counted basically as useless in the job market on account of age lack of experience, making my degree nothing more than an expensive piece of paper. I never want to hold a title but to use and be it! I have kept tight hold on to my sororities, college friends, and professional networks. I’ve declined to PCS with my husband so that I can beat Father Time’s relationship with technology and the work force. So he can leave the military and not worry about finances. Keep up with my studies so my degree won’t be in vain. I’m not even 30 yet and it’s been an uphill battle. Thank goodness for great friends in high places for allowing me to hitch my wagon to their stars.

  • College Grad

    I just graduated this past December from a school that is considered almost on-par with the Ivies. I got a degree in Japanese because I eventually want to teach. Now I’m doing transcription work after looking for any job for six months. My Japanese skills are going downhill because I have no one to practice them with, and I’m afraid to start grad school for teaching because there are very few reputable online schools. I also keep telling myself when (if) we get to Norfolk that things will be better. Or I could always try to get my fiance to go to Japan, but I’m not sure I’d want to be there for three years. Some money is better than no money, so I know I should be thankful I have a job at all.

  • Nina

    As far as the highly educated spouses, it might make sense to consider job opportunities through self-employment. People who are holding advanced degrees and having some experience might be better off with consulting type of jobs. Especially if they are also thinking of working remotely/do shorter work week due to the family situation and so forth….

    However, depending on how people prioritize their lives, in some cases it is an unfortunate fact that they may have to make sacrifices for their careers, such as living weeks in another town and whatnot. This is also something that civilian counterparts may do in some cases. Obviously they can decide where they live but in some cases spouses’ career aspirations may mean living in different towns etc.

  • sandra dorsey

    Those “Executive Orders” given for working overseas (civil service/GS slots)..who are coming back to the states..FOr me, it was from Germany back to Ft Drum NY..I was told at the CPO office there, that my Executive ORder AND my military veteran hiring preference (as Im an Army Vet)..was as good as toilet paper..I couldn’t even get my foot in the door. I went to the employment office, temp agency, etc. Just as bad as it was going to Ft Bragg NC..COuldnt get a job there either..ONLY ones who got hired..and are still getting hired all over this country..are the ones who have family or friends pulling strings..AS I have been told..college degrees have very little to do with anything..”Networking” family/friends connections do…TO much inbreeding if you ask me..

  • Adriene

    I think that it is incredibly easy for military spouses to find employment! They just need to be satisfied with being underemployed working for minimum wage outside of their career field during hours that no one else wants.

  • Elizabeth

    I am 40. Our last PCS move put me in the hell hole with no employment category. The next move because of the previous PCS move has me sitting in the over 35 stay at home mom category. Bottom line, in the current economic state this country has been put in, if you need to have your kid in daycare and you are a milspouse with the job history that inevitably comes with the territory, you are pretty much doomed to unemployment. The new jobs out there are part-time and you can’t afford to work and have childcare at the same time. The jobs on bases are drying up due to federal budget mismanagement. Even watching other people’s kids isn’t a given because of the first two conditions. Yes, I know the economic “indicators” say we aren’t in a depression but I sure am.

  • downandout

    I am a pharmacist who, due to my husband’s military orders overseas for the last 7 years, have a nice resume gap. I can’t get work anywhere in the greater DC area. At this point I completely resent my time as a trailing spouse. I was always hopeful that I could be able to return to my chosen profession after supporting our family through orders abroad. I have adapted to my environment consistently, learning French, multitasking in ways that would make my pharmacy managing days seem like kindergarten, and have dealt with incredibly stressful situations. But no one will even give a look to my resume or grant a call. Instead of feeling proud for having done what seemed to be the right thing as a military spouse, I feel regret and remorse for not having chosen other paths…to include perhaps walking away instead of down the aisle.