The United States Navy has long touted that if you join up you can see the world, and today the military remains a way to see exotic lands – albeit it some of the places might not exactly be hot tourist spots. The military doesn’t have a monopoly on government or contractor opportunities in far off lands, and for those individuals with a travel bug or just a yearning for adventure, now is a good time to update the passport and sign up for a foreign posting.
understanding the size of the overseas job market
According to a 2014 report there are more than 89,000 government employees working outside of the United States in more than 140 countries around the globe. The range of these OCONUS – as in Outside Continental United States – jobs is varied and broad. The largest employer is the Department of Defense, but according to the Office of Personnel Management at the beginning of 2013 there were more than 34,000 federal civilian employees in foreign countries ranging from cabinet-level agencies such as the Department of State to the PeaceCorps.
The benefits for working overseas are more than a paycheck – there is a Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) for federal positions, which is a huge advantage to anyone trying to see the world while saving money. In addition to networking opportunities, some positions, such as those for the PeaceCorps, include job training and job search assistance for volunteers who completed their service.
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Not all OCONUS opportunities are in scenic Paris or historic Rome, but positions in less stable regions have another benefit. Some overseas jobs – notably in the Middle East and Africa – offered higher premium pay through the end of last year, and it is likely that similar measures could continue in 2017.
The overseas job Application Process
The first question to ask before considering an overseas job is – how stable in the market, and how long will today’s opportunities last? With a new administration in power the state of the market could change, but at present the job market remains steady, according to Charmaine Bell, talent acquisition director at Engility Corp.
“However, it can quickly become volatile based on what happening around the world, the Federal budget and of course the current political landscape,” Bell told ClearanceJobs.
In many ways the application process is essentially the same as for jobs based in the United States.
“The application process is the same,” explained Josh Saye, talent acquisition manager at Vectrus, a global services solutions provider. “Per OFCCP regulations, it must be.”
Candidates can expect to complete additional paperwork that they would not normally see in a CONUS-based role, said Matthew Mead, senior manager of recruiting for Arlington, Virginia-based PAE.
“The best advice we can offer to candidates is to, one, ask questions to ensure a clear understanding of the information required and , two, promptly complete and return paperwork to the recruiter, Mead told ClearanceJobs. “The application process for overseas work is typically more complex because contracts may require additional contingencies such as a security clearance, a valid U.S. passport, visa processing, and unique medical testing requirements depending on the country to which you deploy.”
However, Saye added that for these reasons it can often times faster to recruit someone for a CONUS position, but in some cases easier to recruit someone for an OCONUS postion.
“We are at the point where we target individuals with active clearances,” Saye told ClearanceJobs. “On average it takes about 6 months for a person to receive a Secret clearance.”
Where the process may be different is in the testing and requirements that applicants may go through, added Major General Kevin O’Connell (Retired), executive vice president of program operations at Advantage SCI.
“There are factors to consider including medical conditions, language skills, counter intelligence training and even combat readiness,” said O’Connell. ” Our overseas jobs are dictate by the U.S. government contracting market. Generally, we hire linguists or other professional skill sets required by our customers – people with high clearances and experience in military or government environments.”
In addition to the LQA there are other benefits and support offered to those who take on an OCONUS job.
“At times we may need to make accommodations for people overseas if they do not have an Internet connection, but these situations are mostly dependent on the country’s infrastructure and nature of the contract,” explained Bell. “What is different is the offer portion of the hiring lifecycle, because of various pay differentials, country of origin laws and regulations.”
To better support the unique needs for OCONUS employees, Engility has established a Global Mobility team that is focused on new hires that will either deploy or are hired OCONUS.
“Our Global Mobility team helps OCONUS employees navigate life and work overseas,” added Bell, “from processing all required paperwork applicable to the destination country to answering questions about the country and contract-specific compensation.”