Crikey MUm - posted on 02/05/2012 ( no moms have responded yet )
When we received our orders to Rota, Spain, the first thing some random Rota Facebook person told me was that I couldn't work there, so I'd better get used to the idea of being a stay-at-home-mUm (SAHM) for the next three years.
Initially I thought, rock on, three years of chilling out in Spain, traveling every other weekend and just rancho relaxing with Michael. Husband couldn't complain, I was being told by the powers that be, that working just wasn't an option, so I happily locked my mindset onto that 'lady of leisure' lifestyle.
However, upon arriving in Spain I was informed that 'that' power that be wasn't entirely accurate and that I could in fact apply for work in the General Service (GS), Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF), Contract Hire, and Community Classes Instructor system, and could actually use my 'coveted' military spouse preference for some of these positions to beat out other candidates. In this article, I will be covering the GS and NAF employment opportunities.
BUT (there is always a but) as I found out very quickly and frustratingly, actually obtaining a desired GS position was less about that Bachelor Degree or ten years of experience in the exact field of application (go figure) and more about the most important of qualifications...LUCK!
The Naval Station Rota (NAVSTA) job market is one tough nut to crack and if you're not clued in, you may end up being the nut that cracks, so read on!
But before I go any further, let me clarify that my views in this post are based on actual experiences and experiences from many sources on base since I've been here. Let me also state that I support our troups and our veterans 100%, I truly believe that if you are willing to sacrifice your life for my freedom, then absolutely, rock on, you deserve my praise and an edge (Veterans Preference) in obtaining a GS position...that I'll never deny. Now, that the legal mumbo jumbo as such is covered, let me continue.
My goal here is to explain very clearly and honestly the application procedures, regulations and absolute lack of common sense in obtaining certain forms of employment here at NAVSTA Rota so that you know exactly what to expect before you, like me go through a YEAR of roller coaster emotions from 'whoohoo' to 'maybe' to 'are you effing kidding me'.
It is possible...there are actually a few hen's teeth to retrieve, you just need some luck and an in-depth knowledge of the types of positions available, where to find them, and how the whole gatekeeper Human Resources Office system works.
I truly believe that spouses become incredibly frustrated and angry when applying for GS positions through HRO because simply put, there is no transparency in or explanation of the regulations. It's a simple 'no you weren't selected because you were blocked by a veteran', 'no, although the form we sent you (some 3 weeks after the job was filled) said that you didn't apply by the due date, you were actually blocked by a veteran'.
But what about my military spouse preference (insert sarcastic chuckle here)?
Of the six or seven GS positions that I applied for in the almost one year since arriving, only ONCE did I actually make it through the Veteran's blockade and land a GS position...one that I truly love, so it is possible, it just takes some patience and a whole box of four leaf clovers!
GENERAL SERVICE (GS) POSITIONS
These positions are the golden ticket, as not only are they annually salaried, but they entitle you to paid sick leave, annual leave, living assistance benefits, health benefits and promotion to higher GS grades. You MUST be a US Citizen and have a least one year left on your sponsor's orders. All GS position vacancy announcements are displayed on a notice board inside the Human Resources Office in Building 1 and in a folder at the Fleet and Family Support Centre. Vacancy announcements are also advertised in the Coastline (free base newspaper) and on the HRO website, however, they are not always updated, so I suggest visiting HRO every other day.
How to Apply
First things first... that standard prettied up resume you have with the cute fonts and header will not cut it. You MUST redo your resume in the boring yet precise required Federal format which although tedious at first, can easily be tweaked for each vacancy announcement. If you've never seen a Federal Resume (I hadn't), they are very specific in line items, required verbiage and format.
The Fleet and Family Support Centre (FFSC) offers free Federal Resume classes (727-3232) with computer access, although if you have a current resume that you would like them to look at, I suggest walking in and asking if anyone has a few minutes to look over it. Don't wait for the class if a position you are applying for cuts off sooner. The staff at the FFSC are wonderful.
Cut-Off Dates: Every vacancy announcement has a cut-off date and future weekly cut-off dates, meaning that you must have your application (manually handed) to HRO by the cut-off date to be applicable for review and possible referral. I always ensured that my applications were in by the first cut-off date, as that's the first batch of resumes looked at. If HRO find suitable candidates in that first week, regardless of the fact that you made the second cut-off date, you're out of luck! Get in first!
With each new vacancy announcement you will need to provide a copy of your sponsors orders, veterans preference form (if applicable) your resume, military spouse preference form (if applicable) and the standard application form. HRO do NOT keep copies of your paperwork, therefore for each vacancy announcement, you must complete and submit the forest of paperwork.
NAVSTA Commissary & Exchange
After you have submitted your application, wait one week then call HRO to follow up on the status of the announcement number. As a rule, while the employer has up to (30) days to make a selection from the referrals, HRO will be able to tell you within a week if you were blocked by a veteran or were referred for the position.
Your sponsor's mailbox 'will' also receive a notification of the outcome, however I only ever received one...that's why I say call.
NON-APPROPRIATE FUNDS (NAF) POSITIONS
These numerous part-time/permanent/flexible positions are recruited by but not limited to the three major employers: Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR), Navy Exchange (NEX) and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDs), and range from lifeguard to substitute teacher. NAF positions are available to veterans, spouses, civilian contractor spouses, and the beauty of these positions is that they do not require US Citizenship, nor do they follow the Veteran's preference hierarchy.
NAF positions offer hourly wages ranging from approx US $7.00-14.00p/h and are probably the quickest way to gain employment on base. Note, however, that as a NAF employee you are not entitled to paid sick leave, health benefits, living assistance...still, it's money in your pocket to travel and enjoy Spain! Plus, from what I have been told(?), if you hold a NAF position for one year you are eligible to jump into the GS system, but then again one hears many things when it comes to the mythical NAF-GS system jump!
How To Apply
MWR positions (the Godfather of the base) posts available positions on their website, and within their office in building (1) beside HRO, PSD across from the hospital. NEX and DoDDs post in the Coastline and at . You are not required to submit a Federal or standard resume, rather you simply complete an application form that details your work and education experience.
What if I'm Not a Military Spouse?
I won't lie, for GS positions, you'll need the luck of the Irish to get you through! The totem pole for preference as such puts you almost at the bottom behind veterans and military spouses, although in saying this, I still strongly suggest applying for GS positions as you just never know when that veteran or military spouse will not apply or in fact be selected for a position. Stranger things have happened!
In conclusion, although it may become frustrating at times, there are some great opportunities to work on base...or if the daily grind isn't for you, there are some great volunteer opportunities with Rota Animal Welfare League (RAWL) who I happen to know are currently looking to fill the President and Secretary board positions.