More than 40 people turned out Jan. 20 for Fort Campbell USO’s first Military Spouse Employment Readiness Workshop on post.

Although the USO offers quarterly employment workshops mostly geared toward transitioning Soldiers, this one included advice specifically for spouses because they often face different challenges, said Lauren Kovaleski, a scout with USO Fort Campbell Pathfinder.

“We all deserve our own life or career,” Kovaleski said. “Our lives becomes about the service members. We move, we spend months alone. We deserve to reach our own goals.”

Kovaleski, a military spouse herself, was one of the presenters offering advice about how to improve a resume, make a good impression and land a job.

Yazmin Lorenzo is looking for work and spent four hours listening, taking notes and thinking about how she could improve her resume.

Lorenzo wants to find a job helping other military spouses, whether it’s in human resources or possibly as a scout with USO Pathfinder.

“As a spouse it’s hard to get a permanent job that can transfer from one place to another,” she said.

During the workshop Lorenzo learned the importance of tailoring her resume to each job she applies for, websites for job hunting and the importance of networking, she said.

“I learned what things to do and what not to do,” Lorenzo said. “Sometimes we overlook things we’ve done over the years that we can put down as experience.”

Kovaleski showed the spouses gathered for the workshop her resume and gave them advice about what to include and what to keep off.

“It’s an advertisement of who you are,” she said.

Human resource representatives may only spend a few seconds looking at a resume, so it is important to get the important stuff at top, set yourself apart and avoid pitfalls that would cause them to pass it over quickly, Kovaleski advises.

“I scribbled all over my resume,” said Frances Fournier-Diaz. “I got a lot out of that.”

Fournier-Diaz would like to work in accounting for a nonprofit agency but hasn’t had luck finding the right job.

“I haven’t worked in 15 months,” she said. “I looked the first six months once we transitioned here and it was discouraging, so I’ve been focusing on school.”

Fournier-Diaz already had an associate degree in accounting and is working toward a bachelor’s degree. Based on what she learned at the workshop, she plans to add more detail to her resume and organize it better.

Sydney Ward has been actively job searching since July after moving to the area with her husband. Since then, Ward had one job for a month before she was laid off and has had several interviews.

“That’s as far as I’ve gotten,” she said.

Ward is working on getting a professional in human resources certification. She found Kovaleski’s advice helpful, particularly using terms like “career hiatus” to explain time gaps in a resume.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve hard so far,” Ward said.

She took pages of notes and said she learned a lot, like responding to questions about how long she expected to work somewhere and different types of resume styles.

“I could potentially change the style, I haven’t decided yet,” Ward said, noting that her resume is in chronological order. “I might focus on skills, rather than work history.”

Most of the spouses who attended were women and speaker Kendall Dunn, a branding and marketing strategist, gave them advice tips on preparing for an interview, how to interact with potential employers and even how to sit while being interviewed.

As a military spouse herself with a baby, Dunn said she knows they face difficulties and challenges but urged them to always put their best face forward – preferably with lipstick.

Dunn started her own company, advising others on how to stand out and be successful.

It is vitally important for jobseekers to be themselves and not try to be someone they’re not, she said.

Lack of confidence during an interview is the biggest mistake Dunn sees, whether it’s stumbling on questions, posture or acting nervous.

“It can be very intimidating,” she said. “You must know yourself well enough that you don’t have to question yourself.”

Dunn urged the spouses in attendance to brand themselves by focusing on the things that make them unique. For her that’s a Southern accent, big blonde hair and owning her own fashion.

“We all have a brand, whether it’s intentional or not,” Dunn said. “Whether you’re nurse or a photographer, we all have a brand.”

The key is to be authentic and consistent, she said.

“Every time you run into me, I want you to get the same vibe and feeling,” Dunn said. “There will always be someone telling you need to be different – that’s not true.”

She asked the group of spouses how they would like to be described by interviewers.

“Friendly,” one woman yelled. “Headstrong,” said another said. “Confident,” one said.

Dunn suggested they should think about how they want to be described and not be influenced by people who tell them to change.

“There is so much power we give away,” she said. “Do not let others define you. Define yourself. Pick those words out.”

Articulating what you want and who you want to be can be helpful in life and work, she said.

Wearing the proper clothing to an interview and looking “put together visually” shows the interviewee cares and is serious about the job he or she wants, Dunn said.

Through USO Pathfinder, spouses have a variety of help available to them to find careers they are passionate about, Kovaleski said.

“We create an identity that is attached to the Soldier, but we can have our own identity,” she said. “We really want to shed light on military spouses and opportunities to help them grow.”