As an attorney and vice president of business development at a real estate and investment firm based in New York, NY, Leigh Searl has built a successful career facilitating real estate transactions and advocating on behalf of her clients. Now, the Army spouse of thirteen years is using her business savvy and advocacy skills to help other military spouses find long-term, remote career opportunities.
Searl is founder and CEO of America’s Career Force (“ACF”), a remote staffing agency that specializes in connecting military spouses with remote or telework job opportunities. Having moved ten times in eleven years with the Army, Searl created ACF because she knew there were many spouses who, like her were “ready, willing, and able to work” but unable to maintain traditional employment due to the geographical insecurity of military life. “So,” she says, “I decided I was going to fix it myself.”
The process of applying with ACF is straightforward and, at this point, free to military spouses. An applicant may send their resume to Searl, who in turn “pounds the pavement” reaching out to companies on behalf of the applicant. Searl explains that some types of jobs lend themselves especially well to remote work, such as legal work, business development, sales, accounting, public relations, and marketing. Searl is working with MSJDN through a Homefront to Hired partnership to explore legal opportunities and match military spouse attorneys with supportive employers.
Searl says that the feedback she has received from prospective employers has been overwhelmingly positive. Several companies have expressed interest in hiring military spouses for remote work and ACF is set to be the subject of an upcoming blog post on The Huffington Post. She explains, “Many people I have spoken with understand the position that military spouses are in. Most have a personal connection and want to do something to help.”
Having experienced the frustration that can accompany balancing a professional life with military life, Searl states that ACF is a reflection of her own journey to find balance. Searl recounts giving birth to her second child while in law school — her husband returning home to Dallas temporarily from a seven-month-long deployment to Afghanistan to be present for the planned C-section. Days later, Searl’s husband was back in Afghanistan and Searl was nursing a newborn, raising a three-and-a-half year old, and studying for her law school finals.
She explains that the personal skills gained from weathering the ups and downs of military life translate to skills that are directly relevant to the workplace. As a result of her experiences as a military spouse, she states that she is “less fearful of rejection or failure.” She adds, “I’m used to navigating the bumps in the road. I am used to the ups and downs.”
In addition to the positive response from employers, Searl also credits the early success of ACF to her commitment to helping military spouses maintain professional employment in the face of geographical insecurity. “Finding work as a military spouse is so challenging. I’m bound and determined to change that.”
For more information on Leigh Searl, her company, or to partner with America’s Career Force, please visit www.americascareerforce.com.