Spouses reap benefits of hiring policy
Barbara Martin, employment readiness manager at Fort Jackson's Army Community Services, speaks to a group of spouses during a course aimed at helping them find federal employment.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- During a period of high unemployment, many people are looking for any possible advantage during their job hunts. Thanks to a new executive order, military spouses may have just a little more leverage during their federal job searches.

The new hiring authority for military spouses, which took effect Sept. 11, means that military spouses who meet certain criteria are now eligible for noncompetitive appointment to federal positions for a maximum of two years. A noncompetitive eligibility status lets spouses apply for jobs with a special status instead of only being able to apply for federal jobs that are open to the public.

While the status does not guarantee selection, it does give federal agencies the option of directly selecting a spouse who is considered to be qualified for an available position.

"Spouses have to remember that the order isn't a guarantee of job placement. It's another aid to help them get placed, but they still have to be deemed well-qualified," said Janice Garcia, military spouse preference program administrator with the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.

She also said spouses should not wait to ask about the hiring preference, which is eligible for only two years after moving to a new duty station.

"The key to the order is the two-year time frame. That's why it's important for spouses to find out if they are eligible for the program as soon as they arrive at Fort Jackson," she said. "I am always available to fully explain the benefits or eligibility or just parts that (spouses) do not understand."

CPAC is working in conjunction with Army Community Services to help incoming spouses make the most of the hiring preference while at Fort Jackson. ACS is offering a

"Steps to getting a Federal Job" class and resume writing tips to help spouses during the process. The next class is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, in Room 222 of the Strom Thurmond Building.

"Everyone is encouraged to come to the class because they'll get a good strong foundation on what they need to do to be successful in their federal job search," said Barbara Martin, employment readiness program manager at ACS. "It explains the Resumix CPOL program, but also explains how to prepare a great resume and how to go through the process of applying for federal jobs."

The Resumix program on CPOL, which stands for Civilian Personnel Online, is a resume building system used by the Department of the Army that allows civilians to self-nominate for positions.

Martin said that spouses seem to be excited about the new hiring authority.

"Our classes are getting fuller and spouses want to come out and get information about the program. Before now, spouses were getting discouraged because they were being rejected because of their lack of eligibility. Hopefully, now they won't be rejected because of their eligibility status."

Monica Turey, a military spouse who recently attended the ACS class, is also optimistic about what the new spouse hiring preference could mean for her during her job search.

"I'm hoping that the preference will increase my chances of employment," she said.
Other spouses in the class expressed similar sentiments.

"My main reason for coming to the class was to find out about the new spouse hiring preference and federal employment in general," said David Lane. "Any advantage helps, especially now that it's getting harder to find jobs."

Qualification criteria

To qualify, spouses must meet any of three criteria:
-- Accompany a service member who undergoes a permanent change of station.
-- Married to a 100 percent disabled service member injured while on active duty.
-- Unremarried widow or widower of a service member who died while on active duty.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16