In a previous post, I touched on some of the attractions of federal positions overseas (there are many, check USAJOBs) and some tips to consider in trying to land one. I mentioned the stiff competition applicants face attaining an initial overseas position. And stiff competition requires your absolute best foot forward for position target, resume, and interview.
But who makes up this ‘competition’ you may ask? The following groups present a subset. They may possess some advantages over a typical stateside applicant seeking a first-time overseas position. This is not meant to scare or discourage, but rather to inform on the tough battle many face wrangling an OCONUS posting.
Veterans’ preference is no secret to civilian federal applicants. At least it shouldn’t be. If it was to you, click that last link! This post is not about the details or merits of vets’ preference. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of details and merits–vets make plenty of sacrifices for the country and are accordingly “scored” in rough categories of hiring preference. Perhaps you, the overseas applicant/hopeful reading this, are a vet yourself. But all of those without prior military service should know that, when included with vets, they enter the recruitment process with a slight point deficit from the start. Without editorializing (I am not a vet myself) this is an overall fair and prudent public policy. But those who cannot claim vets’ preference must put that much more work into their application packages so as to make up any point deficit. In addition to the codified hiring preference, other reasons vets are number one on the list of overseas competition are many have experienced the advantages of overseas postings, many may already be overseas when applying to federal jobs, and the primary overseas federal employer–the DoD–is the vet’s realm.
2) Overseas Spouse/Family Member
Another established hiring preference in many OCONUS positions is that of spouses and family members of overseas employees and service members. Family members–including unmarried dependent children–may claim hiring preference to positions for which they qualify. And as long as the Government avoids the transportation cost getting them OCONUS, the family member preference can even extend to those not already overseas! Together, this group represents significant competition to many seeking overseas (especially administrative-type) positions. All is not lost if you cannot claim a vets’ or family member hiring preference. But your credentials, qualifications, and applicable skills must outweigh your competition’s. And the resume presentation of your merits in the Outline Format with captivating Keyword Phrases is essential in getting you recognized alongside or above the hiring manager’s “stopper list” of potential preference candidates.
3) Former Overseas (Boomerang Employees)
The prospect of overseas employment attracts a curious and adaptable type of worker. Once the novelty and beauty which usually accompanies an overseas posting is experienced, many working overseas do not want to give it up. (The vast majority at some point must, however, due to the DoD’s “5-year rule“). Or maybe former OCONUS employees return to the US for a career interlude but eventually decide to bounce back overseas. This group–we’ll call them Boomerang Employees–also represents some fierce competition to anyone trying to land their first overseas position. While they do not benefit from any formalized preference like the vets and family members mentioned above, former overseas employees often wield significant–albeit informal–sway in many recruitments. For example, they may leverage “reach back” contacts to their benefit. And the flexibility OCONUS hiring managers seek is built-in to a resume that already includes successful overseas performance. Here again, these realities are not meant to discourage so much as they are to reiterate what you are up against as you peer across oceans via USAJOBs. With work and attention paid to your strategy and resume, you may one day find yourself among the seasoned OCONUS Boomerang Employees.
All federal job openings come with a healthy dose of applicant competition. The smaller supply and higher demand of OCONUS jobs make them extremely competitive. It helps to know your competition but don’t be deterred.
Contact us at The Resume Place for help getting started on your first (or next) exciting mission abroad.
About the Author
Jeremy Mott is an experienced technical writer with significant analytical and organizational expertise, ideally suited for federal resume writing. Jeremy’s experience currently working for the government overseas in Germany and after relocating and finding a Program Analyst position from his DOD position in Louisville, KY (after a closure of a depot there), gives him the background to understand the movement of a career from US to overseas and vice versa. Jeremy changed his agency, occupational series, country and mission — with his USAJOBS federal resume and application! With 12 years in the federal government serving as a Management and Program Analyst, Contract Manager, and Electronics Engineer, his diverse experience is reflective of—and a great asset to—the broad range of Resume Place clients. Now as a Management Analyst within a Programs and Manpower division, he has benefited from much exposure to the inner workings of OPM occupational standards, the tailoring of interview questions, applicant selection, and the critical importance of quality recruitment.
Jeremy has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s of Public Administration, both from the University of Louisville. He also received a Graduate Certificate in Public Management from a NAVSEA-sponsored program with Indiana University. He lives in Germany with his wife, son, and daughter.