Applying for Federal Jobs – Start NOW

Currently the federal government has 12,417 job vacancies advertised that are open to the general public. Occupations range from entry level to professional and everything in between. If you are looking for a high paying, secure, and benefit loaded career, research the many options available nationwide.

GETTING STARTED

The federal government’s executive branch employs 2,191,000, add another 653,167 postal workers, those employed in the legislative, and judicial branches to find abundant opportunities for those willing to seek them out.   

Review occupations of interest to determine what is required to apply. The occupational descriptions summarize the basic skill sets, education and experience needed for each job title. Then, review the related federal qualification standards to determine the highest pay grade you can qualify for.

ENTRANCE EXAMS

Certain occupations such as foreign service officers, air traffic control, law enforcement, postal service, and others require an entrance exam, formerly called a Civil Service Test. However, approximately 80% of all federal government jobs are filled through a competitive examination of your background, work experience, and education; not through a written test. Review the list of occupations that require entrance exams and use the links provided for additional exam preparation guidance.  

Most job announcement require the job applicant to complete an occupational questionnaire that replaced the civil service exams of the past. They include multiple choice or Yes/No responses. Essay questions are used to support an applicants’ skills set and/or experience level. You must answer these questions to the best of your ability and include details of how you previously gained work-related experience or skills.

JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS

Once you find a position of interest thoroughly read the job announcement and download a copy for future reference.  Underline or highlight key requirements and ensure you submit ALL information, forms and required supporting documentation. If you neglect to provide key information your application will be rejected. Contact the human resource specialist listed towards the end of the job announcement if you have questions about the job and application process.

USAJOBS

The (USAJobs.gov) federal job search site is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They advertise the vast majority of federal job vacancies for internal and external recruitment. Each year several hundred thousand positions are filled through OPM’s efforts. Currently they have 59,916 vacancies advertised of which 12,417 are open to the general public.

You can easily search by job title, location, occupational title, agency or department. The advance search feature offers various filters to narrow your search.

APPLY FOR JOBS

Click APPLY in the top right corner of the first page of the job announcement. You must register with USAJOBS to continue the application and they will walk you through the process. The application will take time and you must include examples of how you met certain job requirements. The federal style resume is nothing like the private sector one page resume format. Use this resume example to better understand the level of detail needed to not only submit your resume but to improve your chances of being called for an interview.

I suggest writing your resume offline in Word or other word processor and then copy and paste it into the online USAJOBS application. This way you can take the time needed to compile the necessary details and spell check it before it goes for its first review.

SUMMARY

Many are taken aback by the amount of paperwork necessary to apply for a federal job. It can be a daunting task. However, the rewards of landing a life-long high-paying job offset the initial aggravation many times over. Don’t let this dissuade you from applying.

I was a federal manager for many years and hired technical and administrative staff for the FAA in my district. I can tell you from first-hand experience that many highly qualified candidates were passed over because they didn’t take the time to submit a complete application.

Don’t let this happen to you; if you don’t get the first job you apply for, refine your application, tailor it to the job announcement, and keep trying. It took me two years to land my first competitive service federal job.

About The Author

Dennis V. Damp is a retired federal manager, business owner, career counselor and veteran. Damp’s The Book of U.S. Government Jobs was awarded “Best Career” title by the Benjamin Franklin Awards Committee. Damp is the author of 28 books, a recognized employment expert, and a retired federal manager with 35 years of service. He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and held numerous supervisory and management positions and was responsible for recruiting, rating and interviewing applicants, outreach and hiring. His last government position was technical operations manager at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s air traffic control tower.

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