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Starting in July, LinkedIn will provide spouses one year of free membership to LinkedIn Premium, which offers job seekers more search tools and online courses.
Starting in July, LinkedIn will provide spouses one year of free membership to LinkedIn Premium, which offers job seekers more search tools and online courses. (LinkedIn)

WASHINGTON — LinkedIn, a career-focused social media network, announced Monday that it would give free job-searching resources to military spouses, a population whose employment lags behind the rest of the country.

Through a partnership with the Defense Department, LinkedIn will expand its program for veterans and servicemembers to include spouses. Starting in July, it will provide spouses one year of free membership to LinkedIn Premium, which offers job seekers more search tools and online courses. Premium memberships typically range from $30 to $100 each month.

The year of free membership will be available to spouses each time that they move to new installations and again when their spouses leave the military, LinkedIn officials said.

“Faced with frequent moves and deployments, military spouses have a unique challenge when it comes to growing their careers,” LinkedIn wrote in a statement. “In order to help set them up for success, re-skilling and re-training are key, as well as identifying remote and flexible work options.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has said it would take up military spouse employment as a priority. In May, Trump signed an executive order encouraging federal agencies to hire more military spouses.

“As a federal government, if we are going to be working with our private sector and asking for others to hire military spouses, we need to lead by example,” Jennifer Korn, a special assistant to the president, said at the time.

Based on a survey, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated the unemployment rate for military spouses was 16 percent in 2017. In comparison, the overall unemployment rate in the United States was 3.9 percent as of April. The veteran unemployment rate in April fell to 3.7 percent.

The frequent moves, often with little notice, are viewed as the biggest challenges facing military spouse employment. Spouses often must quit their jobs and face long periods of unemployment or underemployment after they move, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the free premium memberships, LinkedIn created a source page for military spouses with lessons on freelancing and working remotely. The social media network is also trying to create an online forum for military spouses to give and take career advice and tips on finding jobs.

LinkedIn officials said they plan to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide free LinkedIn Premium membership to spouses of troops killed on active duty, as well as caregivers to wounded veterans. They did not offer a timeline of when resources would be expanded to include those people.

wentling.nikki@stripes.com Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.
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