Career coach Marcelle Yeager regularly conducts mock interviews with expat partners looking for jobs in the US. She explains why and how in this article from Global Connection, an expat partner support company.
U.S. foreign service (diplomat) spouses/partners have been given little help when it comes to embassy opportunities, from a long hiring freeze to unrealistic qualifications (e.g., a Ph.D. in business).
They are required to have higher qualifications than diplomats for some positions (note: diplomat pay is roughly equivalent to basic military officer pay, however, housing is not covered for diplomat families when posted in DC), yet spouses are paid significantly less.
ServingTalent will continue to find rewarding jobs for our spouses/partners around the world: you simply cannot find this type of talent anywhere else. These are people who live in almost 300 locations around the world, handling challenges every day without the support of a relocation agency while their spouse works insane hours - buying groceries, a car, and registering children for school in a foreign language in a country they've never been to before.
Then add to all that, the qualifications of our military/diplomat spouse pool look like this:
- 75% possess a bachelor’s degree or higher
- 43% hold a master’s, Ph.D., or JD
- 20% are bilingual or trilingual
- 11% are veterans
We continue to work hard to support these valuable candidates from both the military and diplomat communities, but more needs to be done. You can find the full article from The Foreign Service Journal here.
It’s hard to know what to expect walking in to an interview. There are lots of horror stories out there about bad interviews and interviewers. The best you can do is to prepare, suggestions for which are outlined below.
Ask for the names and positions of people you will be meeting. This allows you to look on the company website beforehand and do a Google search to find out about these folks. If you can get a biography or view a LinkedIn profile, it will give you a better shot at determining the kinds of questions the person might ask you based on their position and background. However, don’t go into the interview spouting off how much you learned about everyone in the room! You will likely scare them off. Use it as a reference only to help you prepare, and if you’re lucky, the interview discussion may turn to commonly-shared interests which would be the time to share that you run marathons or love to bake too.
Brainstorm two sets of questions. The first set of questions you should think about are tough ones the interviewers may ask you. We've covered these this week on our Facebook page so make sure to check it out.
The second set of questions you should brainstorm are those you can ask the interviewer during or after the formal interview. You always need to ask a question, preferably two or three. This shows you are prepared, engaged, and truly interested in the job. Examples are:
· Is this a new position or did someone occupy it before? If so, why did they leave?
· In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts about working here?
· Do you have any reservations about hiring me for this position?
The first two questions will give you a good grasp of the company culture and whether it’s a good fit for you. The third question can be risky but it’s a good one, especially if you’re concerned the interview did not go as well as you hoped. If you do ask it, you need to be prepared to follow-up to the interviewer’s answer. If they say “no, we don’t have any reservations” you’re in luck and should briefly emphasize how excited you are about the role and why you think the company would benefit from hiring you. If they say “yes, we’re not sure you have the right amount or type of experience,” that’s your chance to tell them why you do. When you prepare ahead for this response, think in terms of selling yourself to the company. They don’t want to hear that the company is a good fit for you; they’ll want to be convinced that you’re the right choice for them because of what you’ll bring to their organization. This is your chance to convince them!
Write down some quick notes on a notepad to bring with you to the interview. If you get nervous and can’t think of that one example you wanted to give, or questions to ask, you’ll have hints in front of you. Don’t be afraid to jot down some notes during the interview if you feel it’s appropriate.
Planning questions ahead of time for an interview goes a long way. You will come across as more confident and be able to speak clearly and concisely about your experience. In addition, the interviewers will note your thorough preparation, which shows that you are serious about the job and leaves a lasting impression.
We’re always hearing about using keywords, but what are they and how can you incorporate them painlessly? Here’s a step-by-step approach.
1. If you don't already have a job description that intrigues you, go to Indeed and type in your former or current title to find a posting. Copy the entire job description.
2. Open Wordle, which creates word clouds from text. Paste the job description into the empty box, and hit "go"! It will generate a cluster of words. Words that are larger appear more frequently in the job description, so the cloud tells you what phrases and words are most important. You can print or save the word cloud.
3. Now you know which skills and qualifications you need to highlight in your job application. But how do you do it? Come up with examples of projects where you've demonstrated those skills. For example, is "presentations" a prominent word? Think about presentations you've given at work, school, or while volunteering. What was the topic? How many people did you present to? Did it lead to positive compliments or outcomes?
4. Write a bullet that answers those questions in your resume and bonus. If you have more you want to say about that skill, use additional experiences in your cover letter to supplement the information in your resume.
5. Continue to do this for each of the larger terms appearing in your word cloud. When you feel comfortable with it, you may not even need to use Wordle. Simply focus on the section of a job description that says "minimum required qualifications" or "job requirements," and pull out key skills to match against your background.
Check out Beth's profile!
Her motto? “Travel. Eat. Talk. Be Kind. Be Fit. Be Open”
Did you know? She auditioned for The Apprentice in 2007 and made it through 2 rounds!
Learn more about her amazing self here.
Marcelle spoke at recruitDC's fall conference to build awareness of the incredible talents of our US military and foreign service partners/spouses. There was such great energy and many valuable contributions from the audience! "When you provide flexibility, you get loyalty." Slides can be viewed here.
“As far as presenting yourself in the best way possible for a stretch job, you have to prove that the gaps in your experience or work history are not an issue,” says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet. “For example, if the dream job you’re looking at requires knowledge of WordPress and you haven’t worked with it, take an online course and put it on your resume marked ‘in progress’ if you haven’t yet completed it.”
When Marcelle and her husband decided he should accept a job as a foreign service officer, starting in Uzbekistan, she knew she’d have to give up the job she loved. Looking at the bright side, she saw this as an opportunity to start her own business. What she needed now was a “Portable Career” that could travel wherever her husband was posted.
If you're sick of hearing about keywords, join the club. For anyone job searching, it is time-consuming and not easy to do. But keywords and phrases are essential! Applicant tracking systems are used by large and small companies alike. These software systems search and parse your resume for information that matches the job description. For better or worse, they determine which resumes human resources staff review in detail.
The idea of working overseas is attractive for a lot of people. Before taking the plunge, consider the challenges that come with it. The difference in tax regimes, the type of visa you need, and language barriers are some of the biggest issues you will face. International tax professionals and lawyers can advise you on taxation and legal issues. If you do not have strong foreign language skills, you should start learning or brushing up on old knowledge. You will likely be competing for jobs with others who have another native language and solid English skills.
If you're not familiar with professional associations, they are typically nonprofit organizations that seek to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest. There are numerous organizations in the U.S. and around the world that represent different professions. No matter your specialty, you can find anything from The Knitting Guild Association to the National Association for Women MBAs to the National Bricklayers Association. You name it, there's one for almost every interest and profession out there.