Army Community Service offers free employment seminars to employees of closing garrison
January 25, 2013
HEIDELBERG, Germany - U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg might be closing its doors by the end of the summer, but Army Community Service staff in Heidelberg is working overtime to continue its programs, classes and initiatives.
ACS provides free resources to Soldiers, family members, retirees and eligible Department of the Army employees that are designed to enhance and help with everyday quality of life issues and needs.
One way ACS is helping garrison employees excel is through its employment seminar, taught 1-3 p.m. monthly at the Village Pavilion Community Center on Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg. The next seminar is scheduled for Feb. 11.
"The installation is closing, and we feel that a lot of civilians really need help, especially NAF [non-appropriated funds workers]. Since a lot of them have been in the job quite a long time, they've never had to do a resume," said Mei Shan (Jo) Kammer, ACS Financial Readiness Manager.
Kammer started a class for NAF employees in September that was such a big hit, garrison staff asked if one for appropriated funds employees could be held. "I started the project with the intention [of] helping as many people as possible," Kammer said. "The staff put together canned resumes for popular jobs, like those in the food service industry or who are child care service providers. It helps them have a resume on-hand so they can have an easier start," Kammer added.
The course opened to both NAF and AF employees in November, and is now taught by Erin Paulus, Employment Readiness Program Manager, who was a contracted instructor with ACS prior to being hired as an AF civilian.
"[The course] covers the USAJOBS website. [It's a] crash course on how to read position descriptions for content and how the process works," Paulus explained.
"We teach tips and tricks for formatting your resume, and how to make it look better and stronger off the bat when it's sitting in a pile on an HR [human resources] specialist's desk," she added.
USAJOBS is the federal government's official job portal, which, according to its website, helps federal organizations meet their lawful requirement of providing job opportunities to federal employees and United States citizens.
Human Resources professionals also attend the briefs to answer specific questions about the process.
"We've been really lucky, as both NAF HR and appropriated funds HR have been attending to answer HR questions. They have been great," Paulus said.
It's important to have Civilian Personnel Advisory Center specialists present, Paulus said, "because they are the ones who evaluate resumes, so they're giving their two cents. [Employees should] take advantage of face-to-face time with them. They're taking their time to help the garrison employees," she added.
Together with CPAC representatives, Paulus said the class is vital to seasoned job searchers as well as those who have rarely or never used the USAJOBS system or ones like it, like the recently-retired CPAC website's Resumix program.
The job search portion of that site merged with USAJOBS, but still provides resources for employees at www.cpol.army.mil.
"It's certainly valuable training. The system has changed in the past few years, and people are not always 100 percent sure on how this process works," Paulus said. So far, 49 have attended training, and of those, a few long-term hires have said they learned more than they anticipated going in.
"Even though they've been doing this -- it's not their first rodeo, so to speak -- there are things they don't even know. Even though they've been in the system and this is not their first federal job, they're trying to stay in the system," Paulus said.
One addition to the selection process is the assessment questionnaire, a change from the keyword search that was standard previously. That's still used, but many applicants will select "best qualified" or "expert" on the questionnaire but will fail to include that experience in the actual resume. That can cost the applicant the job before it ever reaches an actual human's desk, she said.
Another mistake is having only one resume uploaded to the system.
While many jobs are very similar, not every one is the exact same. Applicants should take the time to thoroughly read each announcement to find what talents and expertise are required and tailor their resume to each job.
Another tip Paulus has gleaned from teaching the class -- as well as her own experience and that of HR representatives -- is to use a tagline format in the "experience" portion of the resume.
"Use a marketing tagline format: divide big blocks of texts that are all related and give them some sort of title. Then the HR specialist can look at the big block that has four to five taglines," instead of a large chunk of text that merely lists experience.
"All those words are hard for anyone to read," said Paulus, who suggested typing the resume into Microsoft Word first, making the taglines all caps.
"That is your key to ending up in the pile that goes to the hiring manager. It is your job to make sure your resume highlights you as the best candidate," Paulus said, adding she is available for individual appointments or resume advice.
"I personally think people are in better positions to do this, if they know how the system works, [and] they know how they are being evaluated and what steps they have to go through. They're in a better position to succeed," Paulus said.