Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Applying to Jobs in Germany as a Military Spouse

When you’re a military spouse applying to jobs in Germany, pretty much the only option is to work on post due to the SOFA agreement. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a job. But it does mean that jobs opportunities are a little more limited than in the States, it might take longer than you prefer (5 months to an offer for me and about 7 months until I got to start), and you might have to look for work outside of your usual field.

Shortly after arriving in Germany, I applied to almost every job I saw an opening for. Some were somewhat close to things I’d done before. Most were completely unrelated. Some of the jobs I applied to were: administrative assistant, substitute teacher, security assistant, secretary, education aide, library technician, animal health aid, recreation assistant, child and youth program assistant, operations assistant, store associate, and theater supervisor. There were some I preferred over others, but I kept an open mind. Almost any of them would be a new experience I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and maybe I would end up doing something I really enjoyed.

I found most of these job postings through USAJobs. I also used AAFES and a list of DoDDS continuously open vacancies. Later, I found out about NAFJobs. I also found out after I already had a job offer that the NAF office has a binder of openings that one can look through, although if they differ from what’s available online, I don’t know. At one point, I also called the fitness center on post to find out they were always looking for personal trainers. I looked into getting ceritifed with NASM (which I could have done by studying on my own and testing in Hamburg). But I ended up getting a job before I signed up to take the class, so I didn’t end up going that route.

Jobless not hopeless, Ask for my resume - Chris StewartThroughout the process, there were a few things that were a bit discouraging. The first was that most of the jobs open for applications were “standing registers” which means that they could be pulling applications for future vacancies with no need for someone now and no guarantee they’d need one in the future. Knowing you’re filing out a bunch of forms and answering questions for a job that might not even exist isn’t the most fun thing. But I definitely encourage people to apply to them anyhow because the ones I got interviews for were all from the standing registers.

Another thing that discouraged me and then confused me was that I got an email saying I wasn’t eligible for the child and youth program assistant job. I knew I didn’t qualify for the highest level, but I was more than qualified for the entry level position, so this was a little confusing. More confusing but in a good way, was that I later got one saying I was eligible and that they’d forwarded it on to the selecting individuals. The letters saying you aren’t eligible go to emails you can’t reply to so I was bummed until I got the other one. I can’t really complain though because that’s the job I ended up getting.

One thing that tripped me up at first was all the documents I needed to apply to jobs listed on USAjobs, and getting them in. I needed an overseas employment form, and to apply for spousal preference I needed my husband’s PCS orders, my marriage certificate, and a form declaring the need for preference. If the job required a degree, I also needed a transcript. At first I had these all printed off and tried to fax them in. That failed when I applied to the security assistant job. I tried it a few different times and never got it to work. I emailed to see if there was something else I could do to get them in since fax wasn’t working and at the time I thought I had no way to upload them to the site.

After that, I figured out a better way, and I recommend anyone looking for a job do this. I remembered that my husband’s printer had a scanner built into it. So, I scanned everything onto my computer as documents, which I was able to attach at USAjobs. Once you have attached them and they show available (which can take a couple days), you can use the same documents for other applications. Due to size limits and the way the document categories are divided, my files were: PCS orders in one, transcript in another, and overseas pre-employment data form, questionnaire for military spouse preference, and marriage certificate in the last one.

All told, I’m not actually sure how many jobs I applied to. I know there were at least 17 categories. Many of the applications like educational assistant, child and youth program assistant and school secretary had multiple locations within the city, and you could check which ones you’d like to be considered for. I checked anything that was within the Heidelberg area, so I was really applying to several positions with one application. From these, I ended up with 3 interview offers. I did two interviews before I got offered a job around five months after I started looking for work (and with the steps I had to take following that, it was about two months after that before I started working).

Related Posts:

12 Thoughts on “Applying to Jobs in Germany as a Military Spouse

  1. Really informative! The job search is so intimidating for spouses in a new country!

  2. Glad everything worked out fine for you, Amanda! Thanks for explaining your job search! Very informative. And yeah, I can imagine all the paperwork…..

  3. Your post expresses the confusion and frustration I felt when applying for jobs on post. I was a military dependant so in a similar situation you were in. However, a good amount of jobs did not apply to me at all after they found out I had dual citizenship. They asked me if I wanted to give up my German citizenship in order to work with them but I declined and looked for a job off post instead (which much more success, since I am bilingual and options were better). Short “career’ span with their crap is all I have to say. :-/

    • It seems silly to me that they don’t open some of the positions to dual citizens when they do open them to someone who is either an American or a German…so why not both? Probably something with the SOFA agreement that dependents use to be able to be in the positions… I’m glad you didn’t give your dual citizenship up though and had better luck with getting a job on the economy. I’m glad I have the option of working on post, but sometimes it sucks that it’s the only feasible option.

  4. I am looking for information regarding US jobs in Mannheim. I heard there will be openings for a security guard at the old Coleman Barracks. I need help on this. Thank you

    • Sorry, I don’t have any information on US jobs in Mannheim. If there are civilian openings at Coleman Barracks, or anywhere else US government-affiliated in that city, they’ll probably be posted on USAjobs.gov, but as of right now there is nothing there.

  5. If given the choice, would you recommend working or staying at home and enjoying the German landscape?

    • It depends on what you like to do. Personally since we’ve only had one car most of the time that we’ve been here staying home meant being stuck at home on base or close enough that I could get back in time to pick my husband up, so I’ve preferred to have a job when I’ve been able to.

  6. I’m confused as to why you say the only option is to find a job on post. It takes a time and hustle to find positions on the economy, but I just recently interviewed for a marketing position with BRITA located ~20 minutes north of Wiesbaden. The SOFA agreement lets you work on the economy–& it’s totally doable. Frankfurt has more opportunities, as does Stuttgart and Koln. With so many international companies, most of them conduct business in English, so you don’t always have to be fluent in German to apply for the job.

    • Hi Kate. I actually didn’t say “the only option” but “pretty much the only option”. I wasn’t ignoring that some opportunities exist off post or trying to discourage anyone from pursing that avenue, just acknowledging the reality that, for the majority of spouses, on post/base is going to provide the most available opportunities to apply to. Personally the jobs on the economy I saw in Heidelberg and then in Kaiserslautern that only required English were few and far between, especially compared to opportunities on post/base. I applied to a handful of jobs off post, had one interview scheduled, and didn’t get the job. I lost count of the jobs I applied to on post and got all but one I interviewed for. The only people I knew with jobs on the economy either had fluency in both languages or worked in places like nail and hair salons catering almost exclusively to American clients. I did know a fair few who went into business for themselves, but of course that’s a whole different scenario than applying to jobs.

      Of course everyone’s experience may differ, and what’s available depends in part on where you’re stationed, the industries you have experience in, and even just the timing of when you’re looking for work vs when companies are looking for people. Those fortunate enough to be located in or in commuting distance of somewhere like Frankfurt or Stuttgart or who have certain job experience probably do have more options on the economy, and I’m glad it seems like the Wiesbaden area might work out that way for you. If you’d be interested in writing a guest post about the process of searching for opportunities on the economy as a military spouse, I’d be happy to post it for those interested in and able to take advantage of that option. Or if you have a post on your own blog about that process I’d be happy to add mention of it here and/or in a separate post Best wishes with your job search, and I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time in Germany.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: