Answer The Question Asked
Hiring panels ask each candidate the same questions. Im continually frustrated by the number of candidates who waste our time by not answering the question asked. Listen to the question. Pause and think about what was asked. Answer the question directly. Rambling responses without focusing on what the hiring panel asked wont help your selection chances. Keep in mind, hiring panels typically have multiple interviews scheduled one after another. Unfocused responses give the panel a reason to immediately eliminate you from consideration.
What Jobs Are Available In The Federal Government
There is a wide variety of federal jobs available. Although many require a college degree, not all do. When beginning your job search and considering federal employment, keep the following jobs in mind:
- Administrative Assistant
An administrative assistant is a person who provides support to a company or organization. This includes tasks such as managing schedules, organizing files, and handling correspondence. The job can be very demanding, but it can also be very rewarding.
- Financial Analyst
A financial analyst is a professional who helps people make sound financial decisions. They assess the current financial situation of a company and then provide recommendations on how to improve it. Financial analysts are highly sought after by the government.
- Human Resource Specialist
An HR specialist is responsible for the management of employee records and the provision of support services to employees. They may also be responsible for the recruitment and selection of employees, and the development and implementation of personnel policies. This job is also in high demand for the government.
- Information Technology Specialist
An information technology specialist is a person who is responsible for the management of computer systems and networks in a company or organization. They may also be responsible for the development and implementation of policies related to information technology.
Tips For Applying For Federal Jobs
Did you recently discover a federal job that looks like it was made for you? Perhaps you found it directly on USAJOBS, or perhaps you heard about it from a colleague, saw a call on Twitter or discovered a posting on another job board. Either way, you’ll almost certainly need to apply through USAJOBS. We know it’s a complex and often mysterious system, so we’ve compiled some tips below to help you navigate USAJOBS and make sure your qualifications come through clearly.
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Section 503 Of The Rehabilitation Act Of 1973
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain such individuals.
On August 27, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced a Final Rule making changes to the regulations implementing Section 503. The Final Rule strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations and aids contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire and improve job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The Final Rule, which went into effect on March 24, 2014, was published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2013:
- Establishes a 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities
- Requires covered contractors to invite applicants and current employees to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability and
- Requires contractors to maintain several quantitative measurements and comparisons for the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number of individual with disabilities they hire in order to create greater accountability for employment decisions and practices.
Finding Federal Contractors
Resource: Step-by-Step Guide to Locating Federal Contractors on the Federal Procurement Data System
Resource: User’s Guide to Locating Federal Contractors on USASpending.gov
Information Technology Jobs See Hot Growth As Federal Money Starts To Arrive
Working in the confines of a judges courtroom is very, very different than working for a law firm with more aggressive people, lots of deadlines and expectations for quality of work, and much longer hours.
No law firm comes out and says Hey! We want one of the 1000+ court clerks in the federal district! Instead, they typically look for side assistants from top law firms who have what it takes to get the job done, get along with clients, and fit into an ultra-competitive environment. This is how it works and it needs to be widely promoted.
As a preliminary matter, it is important to understand that federal judicial employees also have some drawbacks. They tend, more than lawyers who go straight to big law firms after law school, to be less polished and not as driven and paranoid as it takes to be in a big law firm.
Also, federal judges are generally better than state judges , but not always. They often have no law firm experience, may have been small-town prosecutors, academics, or bounced around different government jobs. Many are not the type of
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Us Federal Government Job Categories
There are 3 categories of federal government jobs in the United States:
- Excepted Service: Excepted service positions typically involve authorized agencies outside of the executive level of government. These can include positions in intelligence agencies, the U.S. Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation , the National Science Foundation , the United States Secret Service, United States Congress and many security and defense agencies.
- Senior Executive Service: Also known as SES positions, this is the smallest category of government jobs, at only 8,000 employees. This category of service is just below Presidential appointees, although up to 10% of SES positions can be filled by Presidential appointment. These positions often include managerial and executive director positions for government departments such as the Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Inspector General, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
- Competitive Service:This is the largest category of federal service and comprises the majority of the job announcements posted on USAJOBS. While excepted service and senior executive service positions are not often subject to the traditional federal government hiring procedures, hiring for competitive service roles is fairly standardized.
Types Of Federal Government Jobs
Federal government jobs are divided into 3 categories:
1. The Competitive Service.
This service is the largest federal service and typically what comes to mind when people think of government jobs. Jobs for this service are the focus of the process described below.
2. The Excepted Service.
This service is for positions outside the traditional government jobs which can include positions in the intelligence agencies or other authorized agencies.
3. The Senior Executive Service
These are the executive level of our government, just below the top Presidential appointees. This is the smallest service with only about 8,000 members nationwide.
The United States Postal Service is a major employer which fills jobs outside of the typical federal process. Access those jobs through USPS Careers. USPS also offers special consideration for veterans.
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Understand The Interview Style You Can Expect
Different interviewers have different styles and expectations. Its both fair and expected for you to ask the human resources specialist for interview information in advance. To have a better understanding of their expectations, ask such questions as:
- How will the job interview be conducted: In person, by phone or by video?
- With whom will I be meeting? The hiring manager? A panel of employees?
- How long will the interview last?
- What interview format should be expected?
- Behavior-based interviews: This style is one of the most common, especially for federal agencies. It focuses on previous employment behaviors. Hiring managers use an applicants answers to determine if theyd be a good fit with the positions requirements.
- Situational-based interviews: In contrast, these focus on future-oriented behaviors. Expect an interviewer to pose hypothetical job challenges and ask how you would handle them.
- Structured interviews: These are more objective interviews. Each applicant is asked the same questions, in the same order. Interviewers have already determined acceptable responses to these questions and they evaluate candidates and their answers on the same rating scale.
- Unstructured interviews: These are more subjective. Each candidate may be asked different questions, and there isnt universal agreement among interviewers as to the right answer.
Finding Your Target Position
- Check USAJobs, the federal governments official jobs site. Theres an eight-step process that begins with creating your profile.
- Post on social media platforms, such as , , MyOpportunity, MeetUp, or Slack. Connect with individuals within your target federal government program or influencers who might assist you in your search.
- If you already work for the federal, state, or local government, join GovLoop to extend your network. Using these informal connections to learn more about an opening and how best to present yourself gives you a leg-up over competing applicants.
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Apply Immediately But Very Carefully
Competition is stiff, so apply immediately when you find a position that you are qualified for. Dont waste your time applying if you dont meet the requirements.
Read the How to Apply section of the job announcement before starting your application so that you are fully prepared to respond completely. This section tells you what is required to apply, including any required documents. To have your application considered, be sure to meet each of the requirements specified.
After you begin the application , the system will take you from USAJOBS to the agency online application system.
Then, you may be required to complete other agency-specific required steps such as:
- Providing more personal information.
- Providing additional documentation.
- Answering eligibility questions.
- Completing an occupational questionnaire. Tip: look for a preview of the questions under the Qualifications OR Required documents section before you begin so that you can ensure your resume content supports your answers to the questions.
The time it takes to apply varies and depends on the job and the agencys requirements. Allow yourself at least an hour, maybe a little longer if you are new to the process.
After submitting your application, go back to the Application section of your USAJOBS account and verify that your application is indicated as received by the agency. The application status field should display received if the application submitted correctly.
Where To Find Job Openings
Nearly all federal positions are hired through the USAJobs portal, which houses thousands of government listings and processes millions of applications each year.
The key to a successful federal application starts with understanding how to use the site.
The USAJobs profile allows applicants to list their personal information including demographics like race and age, which are used to track agency hiring data and to either upload or build a resume.
The system also helps you apply certain filters to narrow down your search. For example, you can filter by jobs open to the public or those offering telework.
USAJobs is not an exhaustive list. Specialty agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Central Intelligence Agency, post listings separately on their own websites, so its worth cross-referencing job sites with agency career pages.
Assessments are also becoming the new norm in federal hiring. A degree will soon become less important in the federal job application process, but agencies will turn to other means of assessing an applicants skills.
This can include actual tests to quantify your skills or subject-matter-expert interviews for highly specialized positions.
The federal government also uses background investigations to determine whether an applicant is suitable for government work. It is generally the longest part of the federal hiring process, but while all jobs require investigations, not all receive security clearances.
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How To Read Federal Job Announcements
Pay close attention to all the details in a job announcement to make sure youre eligible and qualified for the positionand that youve completed the entire application properly. Read each position description carefully, no matter how long it is. You want to have the best chance there is to apply correctly and make a good impression.
Pay particular attention to the following items:
- Conditions of Employment: These conditions are in the requirements section and tell you know if youre eligible to apply.
- Qualifications: Hiring managers consider only those applicants with the minimum qualifications, such as a certain education level or years of work experience. This is not a place to wing it and hope for the best.
- Required Documents: Youll have to submit a federal resume and, possibly, transcripts and other forms.
- How to Apply: Follow these directions closely to be sure youve completed the application correctly.
Those are important pieces of the application, but job announcements have seven sections total: overview, location, duties, requirements, required documents, benefits, and how to apply.
Overview: Gives details of the positions application period, salary, work schedule and pay scale and grade.
Location: Has information on how many people the government wants to hire for a position, in how many places, and where those jobs are located. This section also details options for flexible work schedules, including remote work opportunities.
S To Land A Us Federal Government Job
The federal government fills nearly 90,000 jobs each year not counting the military or US Postal Service.
Many people believe applying for a federal job is a difficult and complicated process, but it is actually very achievable.
The search process for federal government jobs can last about 6-18 months, which can be lengthy for many people.
But most find it is worth the effort and the wait federal government jobs include healthcare, vacation and sick time, life insurance, pensions, training, and other benefits.
To be successful, you must apply only for jobs for which you are truly qualified by using a targeted federal-style resume, and, of course, you must also be patient.
Do not pay a third party to provide access to the hidden federal government job market. Usually these services just link you back to USAJOBS.
For the vast majority of federal positions, you must be a US citizen. Green card holders are not typically eligible to apply for federal jobs.
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Other Places To Find Positions
Most, but not all, federal jobs and internships are posted on USAJOBS. But there are other places to look for opportunities as well.
Agency websitesSome agencies post jobs on their own site rather than governments central website. For example, the 17 distinct agencies within the Intelligence Community post positions on their individual agency career webpages or at intelligencecareers.gov. Also, most agencies have a jobs page on their website that provides helpful insights into their hiring processes, organizational charts and mission statements.
Partnership for Public Service OpportunitiesThe Partnership for Public Service administers several internship and fellowship programs on behalf of the federal government. These opportunities place students and recent graduates in the federal government to gain valuable work experience for short-term assignments. You can learn about these programs on the website.
Career fairsCareer or job fairs are a great way to meet agency representatives to learn about what agency employees do day to day. While there, you can learn straight from the source about the ins and outs of the application process. You can also use these fairs to ask about programs for students or recent graduates, and an agencys hiring timeline. Keep in mind that most agencies dont make offers on the spot.
Be Patient But Persistent
The federal hiring process can be slow and full of hurdles. In short, applying for a federal job and getting an answer takes time. Some agencies are better than others, and a number have special hiring flexibilities for critical positions that allow them to go outside the normal process and make quicker decisions. But in truth, applying for a federal job requires patience and persistence, and you may be competing against hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants.
You can track the status of your application by logging into your USAJOBS.gov account or from within the agency system that you used to submit the application. If there is radio silence for several weeks after the job submission period has closed, email the contact person listed on the job announcement. Following up by phone is okay, too. You may not always get a response, but its worth trying to determine the state of play.
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Security Clearances Background Checks And Other Certifications
Depending on the type of federal job youre applying for, you may need to have a certain security clearance. For almost all jobs, youll need to complete a basic background check to make sure youre suitable for the job.
Background checks look for character traits such as loyalty, trustworthiness, and reliability. You may also be required to provide information to allow hiring managers to look into your past job conduct. You can be denied employment with the federal government for a variety of reasons, some of which include: financial irresponsibility, poor credit, drug or alcohol abuse, arrest history, or misconduct on a previous job.
Security clearances grant people access to classified information, systems, and facilities on a need to know basis. The process varies for full-time employees, contractors, and military members, but the background investigation for security clearance will be more in-depth than one thats done for suitability determination.
You may also be required to complete a civil service exam for specific jobs. There is no mandatory single civil service exam to cover all federal jobs, but individual agencies might require additional testing for certain positions. Ask the agency youre applying to for any more information or clarification if youre uncertain.
Sign Up For Daily Emails When You Find A That You Prefer
As mentioned above, after entering certain job criteria, USAJOBS will automatically look for jobs that match your desired criteria. You can then request that USAJOBS email you the search results daily, weekly, or monthly.
Request daily updates for faster, more effective information.
Since some jobs are only posted for a short period , the frequency can make a difference. Because many job announcements are only available to receive applications for as few as 3 days, it is important that you check USAJOBS on a daily basis so that you do not miss an opportunity.
Late applications are not accepted, regardless of reason.
Do not read anything into the fact that a job announcement is only open for applications for a few days. Given the number of applications received for each posting, federal HR offices are trying to limit the number of applicants.
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