Most people move to Guam with a job in hand — either in the military or the private sector. Those of us adventurous (or crazy) enough to move here without employment often have difficulty finding a job. Why?
It’s not the lack of positions available on the island. There is never a week where no new jobs are posted. There are several factors that make it hard to find a job on Guam:
- Low pay
- Slow hiring process
- Police and court clearance requirements
In this article, we will tell you how to overcome these difficulties and find a job on Guam.
How to Find High Paying Jobs
The 2010 U.S. Census showed that the average wage on Guam is $15-16/hour, which is an annual salary of $31,250. The Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans reports that in 2010 the average individual income was $25,462. The latter seems more likely to me, having gotten to know a lot of locals since I moved here in 2009. As you may know, the cost of living on Guam is at least 50% higher than in many U.S. states. So, how can people survive on these low wages?
Simple: large households and food stamps. That being said, the low wages and high cost of living make surviving on Guam difficult for non-military individuals and families. The solution is to either arrive with a large savings account or to find a high paying job. Is that really possible on Guam?
Yes. There are high paying jobs, but as you would expect, they are in specialized industries like legal, management, architecture, engineering, and medical practition. Some employers are eager to fill these skilled positions and will gladly hire qualified, off-island candidates as the local population is generally not college educated. Yet, the largest number of available jobs are in food preparation and office support.
Unfortunately, there is no trick to finding a high paying job. Jobs that you might expect to pay well in the U.S. will pay several dollars less per hour on Guam.
If you have not moved to Guam yet, it’s a good idea to secure a job before you arrive or to arrive with enough money to live for 6-12 months (plus, a ticket home).
Visit the following for job postings:
- Pacific Daily News
- Guam Daily Post
- Guam Jobs Online
- Indeed Guam
- Guam DOL
- Simply Hired
- USA Jobs
- Craigslist (watch out for scams)
Dealing with Nepotism
There is no Chamorro word for nepotism, but the closest related word is pare’. Calling in favors and showing preferential treatment to family is not considered nepotism, even in the secular world. There is no negative connotation to the word pare’. In fact, it’s considered wrong to not give preferential treatment to family, especially when it comes to job openings! (Why would you not help your cousin, bro? He’s blood!) In fact, some jobs are posted, but have already been promised to someone, so they’re not really available.
This is especially true in the government of Guam. GovGuam jobs are highly sought after and rarely vacated. Government employees often stay in their positions for life, whether they’re qualified or not. This is the reality of living on a small island with a government and economic system that is relatively autonomous and largely unchecked by the Federal government.
There is nothing a newcomer can do about nepotism, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! It’s okay to ask for favors and drop names. Word of mouth is powerful on a small island, so ask around to find jobs. Network with everyone you meet, including neighbors, school mates, and teachers. Let people know you are looking for a job. It’s not necessary to mention your qualifications — you don’t want to appear superior or overqualified. Just be sincere. Let people know why you’re on Guam and what kind of job you’re looking for. Follow up with anyone who says they know of an opening. (They probably won’t follow up with you.) Persistence can pay off, though you will likely have to lower your standards of pay and working environment if you are coming from the States.
Getting Hired Faster
Guam is an island. A tiny island. In the middle of the ocean. Far from everything. Things just move slower here. You’ll hear people use the phrase “if anything” a lot. It’s the local way of saying, “I may or may not do what I just said I’d do.” Promises are broken; deadlines are missed. That’s not going to change anytime soon.
Still, you should be on your A game when looking for work. Search the classifieds and job sites daily, have your resume current and ready to send, and follow up on applications weekly. Some employers are keen to fill positions quickly. It’s just impossible to know which ones aren’t. Never put all your eggs in one basket; it’s best to apply for as many jobs as possible.
There is no electronic system for background or credit checks on Guam, so all job applicants are required to provide a police and court clearance. There are faults with this system — most obviously, that off-islanders may have a criminal record elsewhere. But it is what it is, so buck up and get yours. Do not try to hurry through this process. You’ll have to go to two places (you guessed it) — the police station and the courts building. Budget plenty of time to stand in line at both.
The police clearance can be obtained at the GPD Records and ID Department in the ITC Building, first floor, suite 131. You will pay $7 for the police clearance and need to bring cash or local check. Call ahead to determine hours of operation: 671-475-8498/8506.
Visit Guam Judicial Center at 120 West O’Brien Drive in Agana for your court clearance. The cost is $10.
In most cases, these documents must be less than four months old to be considered current, but check with employers.
Start a Business
If all else fails, start your own business! Guam is a great place to do business because there is relatively low competition in certain markets. If you’re an innovator with a product or service that Guam needs but doesn’t have, do your homework and consider starting a business. Read our 5 Tips for a Smooth Move to Guam to learn how to be your own boss.
Need more info on moving to Guam? Read the Things Nobody Told Me About Moving to Guam.