The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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write press releases, manage complex postal operations and over-

see construction projects. And they do it all for far less than the

cost of a traditional Foreign Service officer.

HR, says Tulley, wants to make sure that the new administra-

tion understands the value that EFMs bring to their positions: not

only do they cover positions that are hard to fill, but they cost far

less to hire, because “they are already at post, so we don’t need

to move them, and we don’t need to provide extra allowances for

them.” When a Foreign Service officer moves to post, there are

associated expenses for housing, plane fare, shipping a car, paying

for school and more.

The EFM is already housed, so there are no extra housing costs.

Medical services and educational support for spouses and chil-

dren are covered under the International Cooperative Administra-

tion Support Services, or ICASS, shared services platformwhether

or not the spouse is working. While no one knows the exact cost

savings when it comes to hiring a qualified spouse in place of a

Foreign Service officer, everyone agrees that it is far less expensive

to do that.

Tulley reaffirms HR’s “commitment to spouses,” promising

that the bureau is working to keep EFM jobs open so they will be

available once the freeze is lifted. The bureau has told posts that

they cannot convert Family Member Appointments to Personal

Services Agreements: doing so would have allowed posts to hire

local staff into positions that have traditionally been held by

Surviving the Freeze

What can you do if you’re stuck without a job during the freeze?

Apply for the CA-AEFM program.

There are no jobs available at this time, but the hiring process for the Consular

Affairs–Appointment Eligible Family Member Pilot Program is a long one, and it continues during the freeze. If you’re

interested in this program, apply now so you’re ready to go once the freeze is lifted.

If you’re getting ready to leave a job at post, make sure you enroll in the

Family Member Reserve Corps

on your way

out the door. The program was started to make it easier for spouses to transfer to new posts, taking their experience and

clearances with them. Even if you can’t take a job at your new post, you can and should enroll in the corps so you’re in the

system when the freeze is lifted.

Get credentialed.

If you’ve been thinking about getting your teaching credential, your personal training certificate, or

any other job certification, now is the time to do it. FLO offers some professional development fellowships to help defray

the cost. This year’s deadline to apply was May 1, but start thinking now about whether you can apply for a fellowship

next year. Find information on the program at

Talk to the

Global Employment Adviser

at your post to find out whether you can work on the local economy or for

help finding work remotely. Email

for information.

Look beyond the government for work.

Reach out to colleagues on LinkedIn or other social media networks for

advice and support.

spouses, but it would have removed those jobs from the job pool

for a decade or more.

Many spouses have heard the rumor that if a PSA job is

announced, and a spouse applies for it, the entire hiring process for

the position will be halted. According to Tulley, the rumor is true,

but there is a good reason for this. “We’re freezing jobs when this

happens to try to keep them vacant for spouses,” he explains. If no

interested spouses come forward, local staff can be hired. But if a

spouse applies, the process will shut down in the hope that the job

will still be waiting for a qualified spouse once the freeze is lifted.

So should spouses apply for these jobs when they are

announced at post, even though doing so will stop the hiring pro-

cess? Absolutely, says FLO’s Susan Frost. “We are telling people: if

you see a job you want and are qualified for, apply.” In the interim,

she recommends that spouses stuck in this freeze take a long-term

approach. “Ask yourself: is there training I can do? A skill I need?

Can I freshen up my résumé so I’m ready when it’s time?”

“There is lots of anxiety and feelings of powerlessness in our

communities right now,” says Frost. “It’s the antithesis of resil-

iency.”There isn’t much FLO can do to make the freeze go away,

but she says FLO is working hard to “make sure these issues

remain ‘at the boil.’” She adds: “We are listening.”

Meanwhile, spouses are waiting, hoping that the critical role

they play at our embassies overseas will soon be recognized and

reinstated by department and administration officials.