Overcoming the odds: Tips for finding employment

Overcoming the odds: Tips for finding employment

by Kiera Vargas
Stripes Okinawa

First new orders, then movers, then a long plane ride and studying for a driver’s test. Finally, you are all settled and think that the final step — job searching — is easy, but soon discover the challenges of finding employment overseas. Whether you have an extensive job history or are just beginning your career, it seems so complicated.

You might think that as a military spouse with preferences that finding a job would be less difficult compared to everything else you have been through; your résumé speaks for itself — or does it?

While there are many programs in Europe to assist you and make your job search easier, it is imperative that you are proactive and do a little research yourself. Think creatively about your next job. Whether you decide to sit back and build a business or find a remote position teaching, advising or writing, there are opportunities for everyone. Imagine a career beyond your typical 9 to 5.

To help you get started, here are simple job strategies that could assist you as you transition into that “I’m settled and ready to start working” mode:

Be patient.

This is hard to put into practice, but take the time to learn about the opportunities in your military community and host nation. Research non-profit organizations that will assist you with creating your résumé.

Organizations, such as Military Spouse Corporate Career Network have employment specialists who can help you understand the federal job market. Their employment specialists provide feedback, and after registering online, you may discover new opportunities for you and your family.

Continue to be patient and create a plan.

Consider things that you have always desired. Do you want to own a business? Desire to go back to school? This overseas tour may be your chance to grow as a person and create a plan of action for professional growth. There are webinars and podcasts available to teach you how to plan a business. Be aware that you may have to obtain permits and pay host-nation taxes. Contact your town’s city hall and your installation’s legal office for details.

American institutions offer courses on many installations, and online degrees may be available. Host-nation colleges may also have programs locally. A plethora of scholarships and tuition assistance are available.

Attend a resume workshop.

Most installations have programs through Airman & Family Readiness or Army Community Service. Keep in mind that résumé requirements for federal jobs are more stringent. To assure you successfully apply for jobs on USAJobs.gov, take a class or two. Plus, you will learn how to market yourself more effectively. Often, we are so modest about what we have accomplished. These workshops teach you how to “sell” yourself.

Network. Learn about your surroundings.

You may connect with someone who is willing to mentor you. A mentor may have that “secret” to assist you with writing your résumé and cover letter. Consider joining a spouses’ club or volunteering with installation support services, such as the American Red Cross, Army Community Service and the USO.

Research other opportunities.

Freelance positions are usually available remotely. Whether you have edited books, written for the web or built websites, there are so many contract/telecommuting job opportunities out there. Research options carefully to avoid scams, and remember that the Status of Forces Agreement may require you to obtain permits or pay host-nation taxes. So as you embark on this new journey in Europe, be patient, travel, remain positive, and a job will definitely come.

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