ACS provides employment help for spouses

By Randall Jackson U.S. Army Garrison Italy PAOJune 2, 2023

VICENZA, Italy ­­– When spouses arrive in Italy they might be expecting the same opportunities as being stateside. Overseas assignments are different in many ways including employment options.

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The Army Community Service offers the Employment Readiness Program, staffed by, Sarah Connors, a dedicated representative who helps with navigating the employment options. Her experience comes from working at the education center, the transition assistance program, and now as a career counselor at ACS.

She sends biweekly notices to the more than 800 people enrolled in the ERP, who receive current positions that include non-appropriated funds or NAF, appropriated funds or GS, and contract jobs among others.

“At any given time there are about 60 positions in the Vicenza Military Community,” Connors said.

Last year she met with more than 600 clients to discuss employment. One of the topics she focuses on is federal resume support.

“My spouses that come from stateside many times have never had experience applying for jobs in the federal system [USAJobs],” Connors said.

Some of the barriers to matching spouses with jobs include childcare, flexible schedules to match with sponsors’ time off including holiday and summer block leave, and military training schedules, but the biggest hurdle is the federal hiring system. The program helps identify and look for ways to lower the hurdles.

“Education and information on how this process works and how to be effective when applying for jobs is 90 percent of the battle,” said Connors. "My spouses are qualified and well educated and experienced, but they can’t get through the system and end of giving up. But the facts are that oftentimes they’re not packaging their skills and knowledge that bring them to the top of the list and get through that system.”

The solution she sees that works is providing federal resume writing workshops and one on one resume writing assistance.

Connors has developed a 3-step process to help spouses, starting with identifying transferable skills. “When you break down what you’ve done by transferable skills you’ll see you're eligible for a lot more than just what you’ve done,” she said.

“Next perform a gap analysis. Basically look at what the job is asking for and look at what you have to identify any gaps and then talk about how to fill that gap.”

She also reaches out to other offices in ACS that can assist including the Army Volunteer Corps, the American Red Cross, and the Transition Assistance Program to help bridge the gaps either through education or experience.

“Finally, tailoring the resume to highlight the qualifications and accomplishments for the job you are applying for. The typical resume does not meet the federal resume system to get through the process.”

“How you do anything is the how you do everything, so make sure the resume reflects a quality product,” Connors said.