Apply for a Federal Job - FederalPay.org
Why Work for the Federal Government
There are many advantages to working in the federal government.
The federal government offers a generous benefits package including:
- Healthcare coverage
- Retirement plans with contribution matching
- Paid holidays
- Sick and vacation leave
- and more
You will not become rich in the federal government but pay is quite reasonable. Click here to calculate your federal pay rate.
Additionally, when you work for the federal government you are serving your country. You will be doing meaningful work along side other bright and passionate Americans.
How to Apply for a Federal Job
The federal government employs nearly two million workers, and at any moment, thousands of open positions exist. Government agencies like the FBI, CIA, DOT, and Department of Defense are extremely selective about the candidates that they hire, making the federal job market highly competitive. This guide contains important information to help you find government career opportunities as well as insight on how to apply for and secure employment with a federal agency.
Finding Federal Job Openings
If you are looking for a government job, USAJobs.gov is the place to begin your search. With over 30,000 vacancy announcements listed at any time, it is important to create an account on this website in order to gain full access to all potential federal employment opportunities. Once registered, you will have a variety of options for searching for job openings:
- Agency: If you have a specific department or agency in mind, complete your search by selecting these specific offices.
- Grade Level: Select the GS grade level that you are looking for in a position, and your search can focus on jobs that match your level of experience.
- Location: Narrow down your search by examining jobs located within your specific geographical region.
- Job Categories: Organized based on series number, searching for a job based on category will help you to find open positions within a specific occupation.
Once you find a position of interest, it is important to read the description carefully. The “Overview” tab will list some important information, including:
- Salary range
- Series and grade
- Promotional potential
- Who may be considered
- Duty locations
- Open period
By further reading into the job, you can learn about the major duties and responsibilities of the position, qualifications, and the skills and experience needed by a successful candidate. Information about how applications will be assessed and the name of the departmental contact person will also be included.
Writing a Federal Resume
A federal resume is the first of many steps you will need to complete in order to apply for a federal job. When it comes to writing a federal resume, one size does not fit all, and it is essential to tailor your resume to the requirements of the position. Review job opportunity announcements on USAJobs, gather requirement information, and build a description of your skills, experience, and knowledge as it relates to that position. Discuss your achievements and accomplishments, and minimize the use of specialized terminology and technical jargon.
If you meet the requirements for any special hiring authorities, it is important that you also include supporting documentation with your resume:
- Veterans: Be sure to include supporting documentation of your veteran status with your resume (SF-15 Application for 10-point preference; DD214 or Statement of Service; VA Disability Rating Letter of 30% or higher).
- Peace Corps/AmeriCorps Volunteers: Provide a copy of your Description of Service (DOS) or Service Letter to claim non-competitive federal job eligibility.
- Persons with Disabilities: Provide proof of disability from a licensed medical professional or vocational rehabilitation specialist.
Completing a Federal Job Application
Writing your resume is only the first step in determining your eligibility for a federal job. Most agencies will require that you answer application questionnaires, which utilize short essay and multiple-choice questions. Questionnaires will vary in length but can contain up to 100 questions. While some positions allow you to preview the questions within the job posting, you will generally need to complete them when you submit your job application.
When completing these questionnaires, take time to fully consider your skills. Your responses should mirror your resume, and some questions may ask you to summarize your experience performing certain tasks ranging from “no experience” to “expert.” If you answer each question by claiming to be an expert but your resume does not support these assertions, the agency will likely label your application as dishonest, which can seriously jeopardize your candidacy.
Once the open period for a job has closed, a human resources specialist will evaluate your application. Currently, the category rating approach is used to refer candidates to hiring managers. When rating applicants who are best qualified for a position, Veterans Preference can be awarded, meaning candidates with veteran status will be listed ahead of non-preference eligible candidates within a same category.
If you have met the basic qualifications for the job, your name may be referred to the hiring official. This individual will be provided with a list of the most highly-qualified candidates and will select the candidates they want to interview. The entire process from job closing date to making a hiring decision generally takes between six and eight weeks.
Interviewing for a Federal Job
If you are selected for an interview, you are likely among a short list of people who are being considered for a position. The interview process is used to test your professional abilities, strengths, and skills, and it may be conducted in a variety of formats, including phone, panel, video, and one-on-one interviews. It is important to adequately prepare for the interview by thoroughly researching the government agency and the requirements of the position.
Be prepared to sell yourself during your interview, as hiring managers will want to see that you are committed to the public service mission or the agency. Provide concise responses and answer all questions as completely as possible, as you may not be able to clarify responses or ask follow-up questions. You should also prepare a 30 second pitch that is tailored to the job in which you will summarize why you are the best candidate for the position based on your specific experiences and skills.
Background Checks and Security Clearance
If you are selected for a federal position, a basic background check of your credit and criminal histories will be conducted. Additionally, if you will have access to sensitive information, a security clearance will be required to ensure your reliability and trustworthiness before granting you access to national security information. Your job offer may be contingent upon successfully obtaining a security clearance, so gather the information requested on forms SF-85 and SF-86 in order to speed up the process.
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