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2019 Hard-to-Fill Program for Professional Associates

The 2019 application period closed on June 18, 2019.

Program Background

The regular Foreign Service assignments process invariably leaves some overseas positions without sufficient qualified Foreign Service bidders. These positions are designated Hard-To-Fill (HTF) and are open to Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) and to Department of State Civil Service employees. Positions are usually announced in the spring by cable. AEFMs may only apply for positions at the posts listed if their sponsoring employee is currently assigned there. They must commit to serve in the position for a minimum of one year.

Foreign Service direct-hire employees can continue to bid on these positions and receive priority. Qualified AEFMs are given preference over equally qualified Civil Service employees. Veterans are given preference in the selection process.

Note: the Professional Associates Program is different from the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP). For more information, go to the EPAP webpage.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for the Professional Associates (PA) program, applicants must be the AEFM (defined in 3 FAM 7120) of a direct hire government employee from any agency under Chief of Mission authority assigned to a full time position at an overseas post. Members of Household (MOH) and family members of contractors are not eligible.

Professional Associates Program Selection Process

Human Resources/Career Development Administration (HR/CDA) convenes Qualifications Evaluation Panels (QEP) that review applications from AEFMs and from Civil Service employees for relevant experience and skills, including foreign language proficiency if the position requires. AEFMs without supervisory experience will not be considered for positions with supervisory responsibilities. A representative from the Family Liaison Office (FLO) participates in the QEP as a non-voting member.

AEFMs who are certified as qualified by the QEP are notified by the PA Coordinator and their application materials are forwarded to the regional bureaus for consideration for the vacancies for which they have applied. Selections are made by the bureaus. Qualified AEFMs should contact the bureau Executive Officer directly to express their interest and to discuss their qualifications. Interested applicants must meet the additional minimum qualifications.

Note: Eligibility Requirement for Information Resource Management Positions

  • AEFMs should have specialized experience working with computers, upgrading, repairing, replacing hardware and software components; or working with network devices, switches and routers; or performing Sys-Admin functions such as mail server maintenance; or adding, deleting and assigning users to roles, patch management and server maintenance; or configuring or administering virtual network environment; or Program Management for IT projects or Data Analytics experience.

Upon Selection

Selected AEFMs are required to have the appropriate security clearances for the post of assignment prior to an appointment. Professional Associates are appointed using the Family Member Appointment (FMA) hiring mechanism. The regulations for FMAs are in 3 FAM 8200.

Salary is determined by a Human Resources Specialist with experience in setting Foreign Service salaries.

If required, training may be provided at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center (NFATC), also known as the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).

There is no mechanism for the conversion of a Professional Associate to career Foreign Service. AEFMs selected for a position will not be able to convert to the career Foreign Service at the end of a tour.

U.S. Department of State

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