THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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.
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 atwww.bit.ly/ProfDevProgram.
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. EmailGEI@state.gov
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.