While the traditional ways people find jobs and get hired isn’t yet a thing of the past, the post-COVID workplace is rapidly changing. As employers need to expand their talent pools in a challenging labor market, the ways they find that talent are evolving – and it's a huge opportunity for military spouses.
Liza Rodewald is the CEO and Founder of Instant Teams, a workforce talent marketplace that fully embraces both remote work and skills-based hiring. She says skills-based hiring flips traditional staffing models on its head. She would know, as Instant Teams has been recruiting and developing military veterans and spouses in this way since 2016.
“The industry was moving that way anyway, but COVID has sped up the timeline by about eight years,” Rodewald said. “There are all kinds of populations that need a remote work option: working families, dual incomes, and millennials wanting that flexibility. The opportunity for military spouses is that employers don’t know how to connect with them.”
Spouses of military personnel face unique challenges, especially when it comes to career development and progression. In traditional hiring models, military spouses are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding career opportunities. Applicant tracking software dismisses them as “job hoppers,” due to military demands, without regard to their lifestyle.
“When I became a spouse, we moved six times in seven years,” she said. “If I was trying to have a traditional career climb, in an in-person career line, it would've been nearly impossible.”
When work can be found, the demands of a military lifestyle often prevent spouses from working and growing within a company or role, limiting long-term opportunities. The combination of working remotely with assessing them as skilled workers addresses all of these core problems. Instant Teams even prepares its people for the world of working remotely.
“Spouses are civilians who already have skill sets, who just need to be connected to the opportunities they can take with them,” Rodewald said. “Whether that is a remote job or an in-person job that can be transferred to different locations, they're just looking for continuity.”
Rodewald began her career as a spouse with an existing skill set, but found when other spouses learned she was working remotely, they approached her for help in learning how to do it themselves.
She began mentoring people and helping them start businesses of their own. Instant Teams was born of the idea of using technology to use an untapped community to help companies build teams of talented employees.
The rise of remote work culture was just the beginning. Employers are increasingly eschewing degree requirements for positions in favor of demonstrated skills and competencies. This skills-based hiring opens the door for career progression for a huge population of workers that might otherwise have been excluded.
Without firm degree requirements and the post-pandemic labor pool drying up, companies are increasingly looking for employees with specifically-developed skills to fit critical roles, even if those skills are newly-acquired.
The strength of the Instant Teams’ model is in its efficiency in making connections between spouses and employers. If a candidate doesn't have the professional development they need to acquire along the way, the company gives them those opportunities to learn and develop in-demand skills.
Instant Teams connects employers to people with those skills, which allows military-connected employees to continue working in their field, even as their military lives move and shift. But the company takes the career development of employees a step further, offering certifications and training programs within their system. Called “upskilling,” this kind of development allows talent to increase their value in a skills-based hiring focused environment.
In the Instant Teams system, these newly acquired skills appear as badges, verifying the employee’s competency and placing them in front of the employer in a ranked order. The employer is able to onboard someone new relatively quickly, and for good reason.
“When an employer comes to look at the pipeline built for them, they can see all these skills have been verified,” Rodewald said. “They know they’re getting the skills they need, as opposed to relying on a resume. It works out better for both sides. It shines on what the employees do best, and the companies are confident they are getting someone who can do the job.”
As often as not, spouses come to the workforce with skills in place. Rodewald acknowledges that she has seen every skill level, from entry-level spouses who require upskilling to those with doctorates experiencing the same issues. The solution, she says, is not the same for everyone.
“No spouse is the same,” Rodewald said. “So there's not like a one-size-fits-all solution that's going to solve military spouse employment. It takes all these things to really help. The remote work aspect helps career continuity, and skill development unlocks a lot of opportunities for all levels of spouses.”