Calling All EFMs With Magic Wands In Their UAB asked about hopes and dreams for spousal employment overseas. The responses were enlightening and, let’s be honest, wouldn’t be at all difficult to implement.
From Eric C, via the UAB: If I could wave a magic wand and do one thing to improve EFM employment, it would be to have USG agencies make more domestic jobs eligible for teleworking EFMs abroad.
Also on UAB, Km said: If I had a magic wand… I would have EFM clearance good for the full five years not job specific … Not needing to re validate each time. I would also have cleared EFMs offered more TDY to help with events, backlogs and short term projects.
Leslie Jensen, an EFM posted in The Hague, shared some ideas via e-mail:
I would do many things to improve the quality of life and treatment of EFMS overseas. To start, I would do these three things to improve EFM employment opportunities.
- Create more telework opportunities for EFMs posted overseas.
- Streamline the security clearance process. Offer a 5 year clearance for all eligible family members in addition to the FSO. It’s not only ridiculous for us to have to re apply every single time we get a new job, it’s a waste of taxpayer funds.
- Allow for consistency in job postings that are found at every post. For example, the CLO should never (in my opinion) have to possess a 3/3 in the local language but when we were posted in Tegucigalpa that’s how it was written and management and the front office refused to do anything about it, despite the fact that it was the only post in the world with that requirement.
Danielle Grigsby wrote from Lagos and said, “Security Clearances that follow the EFM around, akin to the DH. That way we can work if / when we want to and have some semblance of career normalcy!”
Members of the EFM Helping Other EFMs Find Employment group on Facebook also shared some interesting ideas.
- Do you wanna know where I keep MY magic wand? It’s a secret… and likely in the same place as my opinions on employment.
- If State really wants to make employment better/easier for EFMs, they need to make postings more flexible for FSOs. For example, allow for leaves of absence, job-shares, part-time postings (esp. in DC), etc., to allow spouses to focus on their careers for a while.
- There are just so many things to say to this… but, I might have to start with enabling EFMs to earn even close to what they would be paid in similar jobs in the real world.
- Allow EFMs who have found civil service career positons and gained tenure with the Department to take their job overseas via telework instead of having to resign. Or keep the EFM in INWS status until they find something overseas.
And finally, from Patricia Linderman, AAFSW President:
From what I hear as from our members, some of the most pressing issues for EFM employment include the following (among others!):
– Security clearances. EFMs understand that the clearance process can take time. However, we used to be able to obtain provisional clearances in order to start work (on unclassified materials, of course). Expanding the portability of clearances and allowing pre-clearance before an actual job offer would help many EFMs and their posts avoid excruciating delays, as well as the frustration that ensues when an EFM is finally cleared but has taken other employment in the meantime.
– Flexibility and creativity in taking advantage of EFMs’ talents. EFMs represent a rich and diverse pool of talent, and it is a win-win situation when EFMs are offered opportunities to contribute to Mission goals (for instance with temporary contracts for EFM consultants, analysts, event planners, architects, writers, editors, training specialists, and many, many other professionals). Public Diplomacy offices should also take note of the outstanding volunteer work undertaken by EFMs abroad and publicize it along with the contributions of employees. AAFSW has created the annual “Champions of EFM Career Enhancement” (CCE-EFM) Award to recognize these kinds of efforts.
– Uninterrupted Internet access. By teleworking or providing independent services online (as a consultant, advisor, tutor, therapist, etc.), and also continuing their education and development online, EFMs can build a career with long-term continuity and professional pay. However, upon arrival at a new post, they may lack home Internet service for weeks to months, a serious professional setback. Practical solutions must be found (and some posts have already succeeded) to provide EFMs with immediate access to this vital service upon arrival, as their employee partners take for granted.
Accompanying a Foreign Service employee as a partner; being worldwide-available; and moving every two or three years will always present difficult challenges for EFMs seeking a long-term professional career. The key to overcoming these challenges is creativity and flexibility, on the part of post management and EFMs themselves.
Didn’t get a chance to respond? Have a longer narrative you’d like to share? Comment on this post or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!