On a sunny October Saturday in downtown Kaiserslautern, strategically placed in a popular shopping area, garrison employees took a grass roots approach to letting German citizens know how to apply for jobs with the U.S. government.
Dr. George Brown, head of the garrison’s Directorate of Public Works’ operation branch, said getting back to face-to-face interactions and hitting the streets in the form of job fairs and information booths are working.
“A few years ago, DPW had been losing [employees] more than gaining,” he said. “Since April, we’re gaining two or three for everyone one we lose.”
DPW, the directorate that by far employs the most local nationals within the garrison, said they were losing local national employees at an alarming rate as a large part of the workforce was approaching retirement.
Brown then started looking into the process of the local national job hunt and found one of the main hurdles was that people simply didn’t know, outside of family or friends, where to go to find and apply for job openings.
“If you ask anybody who has been working for us for at least three years how they found out about the job, every single one of them will tell you they knew someone,” said Brown.
One of those employees, Lea Hey, said she found her current customer service job with the Baumholder housing office through a friend. She has been working with the garrison for a year and said she came out to support the Oct. 22 information booth to simply talk about her job.
“I do it really because I like my job. I like to tell people I work for the U.S. Army,” she said.
Outside of where to apply, Brown said another challenge is letting people know of the benefits.
He said a job posting typically displays the potential starting salary but doesn’t get into the benefits such as the possibility of having both American and German holidays off, access to on-base fitness and dining facilities and a manageable work-life balance.
Hey’s favorite benefit?
“The German and America holidays,” she said. Since U.S. federal holidays are observed on weekdays, “we will have long weekends which means you can go on a trip or something.”
Both Brown and Hey said people have approached them about the language requirement. Brown noted English proficiency varies job-by-job and recommends checking each job listing.
Hey said she constantly gets question on how good one’s English needs to be.
“My school English was enough to start. But when you start your job, you will learn it really fast,” she said.
George noted that free English training is another potential benefit. He encourages anyone even remotely interested in the working for the U.S. government to get online to see what’s available.
At the time of this writing, according to the job postings website there are nearly 475 job opening in Germany; more than 300 of those are located in the garrison’s footprint.