So you are job searching and have turned your eyes towards the Federal government. After all, the chances of losing a federal job are far less likely to happen than in private industry.
But how can you find job openings and what is the process like?
Where to Go
If you are in search of a Federal job, go to USA Jobs (If the internet is an issue, here are the phone numbers: 1/703-724-1850 or TDD 1/978-461-8404). USA Jobs is the official job site for the United States Federal government. In fact, any job that is available is required to be placed on the site. At any given time there are thousands of jobs posted. At publish date, there are more than 45,000 Federal government jobs available worldwide. Out of curiosity I typed in a few different cities to see the availability:
- Washington DC: 13,968
- Baltimore: 1,922
- Philadelphia: 7,682
- New York: 3,149
I searched the North East because that is where I am from, but when looking at a few random cities on the West Coast there were plenty of jobs available there, too.
The Application Process
The first thing you should do is click on the tab “My USA Jobs.” By doing so, you can upload your resume, get noticed by recruiters, apply to jobs in the job bank, and create alerts that will notify you when a job is available.
Next, click “Search Jobs” so that you can search for jobs of your interest in whatever area you intend to work in.
After reading through the job listings and finding one that suits you, applying for the job will be as simple as clicking the “apply” button and following the instructions. In the cases where there is no “apply” button there will be instructions on how to apply on both the internet and standard mail.
Everyone is familiar with the job application process for a private company. You contact the companies directly, get them your resume via email, mail, or fax, and then you get an interview. However, with federal agencies the process is slightly different because of all the laws and executive orders that govern employment.
Some agencies fill jobs like private companies, but there are still some underlying differences.
There are two different classes of jobs in the Federal government:
- Competitive Service jobs –These jobs are under the Office of Personnel Management’s jurisdiction and must obey the civil service laws passed by Congress. These laws were passed to ensure equal treatment for all applicants while ensuring the selected candidate meets the qualification requirements.
- Excepted Service agencies – Excepted Service agencies set their own qualifications. They do not have to abide by the appointment, pay, and classification rule in Title 5 of the US Code. However, they are still subject to the veterans’ preference. Agencies like the FBI and CIA only offer these types of positions. Jobs can get classified as excepted service by law, executive order, or by the act of the OPM.
To make the process more “friendly,” the OF-612 (Optional Application for Federal Employment) is option in place of a resume. Previously, the SF-171 had to be filled out. Now it is rarely accepted.
Make Yourself Stand Out
Other than that, all of the typical rules apply. Use your resume as a way to make yourself stand out. Use action words, be concise, make your results stand out, focus on measurable accomplishments, etc.
Let me know if anyone here has used USA Jobs to get a Federal job and how you liked the process!
If you have any suggestions for anyone going through the process, please comment and share!