Helping you to create a pathway back to work. Jill West is a military spouse ready to help.

Jill West, a military spouse, runs her own coaching business ( specialising in personal development and stress management. She also volunteers as a coach for Recruit for Spouses on our coaching programme – talking to spouses about finding their way back into work. Jill West is pretty great.

What is your career background?

My background is hospitality, I was a sales and marketing manager for 15 years working in both corporate and independent organisations. I left my career in 2009 to have my daughter and have since retrained in coaching and mentoring at Oxford Brookes University.

Can you explain what you do with Recruit for Spouses?

I work voluntarily for Recruit for Spouses, supporting their coaching programme.

Why do you believe this work is so important?

I am keen to give back to my military community.  I have a shared experience of being a military spouse and I feel that spouses often give up their own needs, wants and desires for a career in order to support their family.  Dropping out of the workplace can leave spouses feeling lost and over time their confidence can start to erode.  Coaching helps to create the pathway back to work; it builds confidence and belief in a positive work-life future.

What tends to be the greatest challenge facing military spouses?

The biggest challenge facing the military spouses I have coached, is the uncertainty of the next posting.  The lack of continuity makes it really difficult to find and keep a consistent job.   This leads to many years out of work with the main focus being to look after the family which in turn can lead to an erosion of confidence around returning to work in any capacity.

Why is coaching so important for military spouses?

I believe coaching is important because coaching provides a separation for the military spouse from their daily routine and provides a safe non-judgmental space to explore new options.  By working through various exercises coaching builds confidence and belief and allows the military spouse to have space and time to consider what their future work-life balance will look like.  Coaching can be that pivotal moment when a military spouse decides to take the next step on their journey and make a commitment to return back to work.

What key areas do you tend to focus on with military spouses?

The areas I focus on during coaching are tailored to meet the needs of the individual who I am coaching.  However, broadly speaking I would work with my spouses to identify their core values, and their preferred working environment.  Together we would look at their previous job roles and identify future roles which they might be a suitable fit for.

We look at their skillset and identify any gaps that might need to be addressed.  We would also work on confidence and identify any beliefs or fears which might be unhelpful and serving to keep the military spouse stuck and unable to move forward.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a military spouse about to embark on this journey?

As a coach, I try not to give advice as coaching is a collaborative process.  However, if I were to give advice I would say firstly, it’s okay to feel lost and fearful about the next step. Secondly, remember you are still the same person who left work a few years ago and you will find your place in the workplace again if you choose to return to work.  Thirdly, reach out for help Recruit for Spouses is dedicated to helping you return to work so make the best use of all the support they can offer you.

Why is the work you do for military spouses so important to you?

For me, I know how difficult it can be to reinvent yourself after multiple moves and years away from the workplace.  Therefore, helping military spouses go from confused to focused within 6 sessions or less is the most rewarding part of my job.  Having the clarity and the confidence to identify goals and then make them a reality is the most empowering gift I can give to a military spouse.