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Stars and Stripes Scene, Sunday, November 28, 2008

She writes "JobTalk" for Stars and Stripes, but for Janet Farley, it’s more than talk. Her first book, "Jobs and the Military Spouse" (Impact Publications, 1997), was her response to the struggles she and other military spouses face in the job market.

Janet, now living in Stuttgart, Germany, recalled her experience as a staff member of a temp agency while stationed in Georgia with her Army husband.

"I was trying to fill a position for a local employer, and I found the perfect candidate with the right skills," Janet said. "She happened to be a highly qualified military spouse."

Janet’s supervisor, however, was not receptive.

"When I asked her why not, she said because she was a military spouse, she would no doubt be moving within a couple years and they would have to fill the job all over again," Janet said.

"I couldn’t believe it. It really opened my eyes to the blatant discrimination that some military spouses had to suffer. I became determined to fight that in my own way," she said.

" ‘Jobs and the Military Spouse’ turned out to be my way of doing that."

The book is now in its second edition, and Janet followed it with "The Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success" (Impact, 2008). The second edition of another book, "Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide" (Jist Publishing, 2009), came out in October.

Through her books, her columns, and one-on-one as a consultant, Janet’s specialty is career advice in a military setting.

"I’ve either been a military brat or spouse all my life," Janet said. "Before my husband retired from the military, we had our share of moving, just like most people in uniform."

Janet said the balancing act of earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees, working full time and moving was often frustrating.

"I also discovered, however, that I had a pretty good knack for making it work for me, personally," she said. "I started sharing that with anyone who asked."

One influential experience for Janet was an employer who was willing to hire her, even knowing she would move in six months.

"That experience proved to me that, at times, longevity in a job can be irrelevant. Worthwhile employers are visionary enough to know that," she said.

"What matters is making things better than you found them and taking your new skills with you to the next opportunity."

Developing a career, rather than having a series of jobs, requires a plan and an open mind, Janet said.

"Certainly, someone can end up with just a string of jobs if they don’t create an overall basic game plan," she said, but cautioned against seeking only the ideal job.

"What may seem... like a line of unconnected jobs could ultimately lead you to where you want to go," she said.

"I have a dear friend and mentor — also a military spouse — who now works in the job of her dreams at the Smithsonian Institute. She once told me that all those seemingly unconnected jobs through the years suddenly made sense and helped her to get her current job."

Janet now has her own dream job — or jobs — as an author, freelance writer, consultant, wife and mom.

"I love being there at the end of the day to meet the school bus and my two girls. It’s a moment in time that won’t last, so I want to enjoy it as much as possible," Janet said. "I’m also very lucky to have a supportive husband who understands why I do what I do."

More career insight from Janet is posted on the Spouse Calls blog.

Terri Barnes is a military wife, mother of three and a writer, her idea of the perfect job trifecta. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

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