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Searching for Federal Employment

Employment with the federal government can be a great flexible and portable option for you. Learn how to get started with your federal job search.

Working for the federal government may be a great choice for your next career move. The federal government provides a broad variety of career opportunities across several fields. Federal jobs also offer portability. You'll have an opportunity to work for an employer who may understand your needs as a military spouse. You may even qualify for hiring preference for some vacancies.

Where to search

You can search online for federal openings by visiting USAJOBS. The homepage will allow you to run a basic search. However, if you ultimately want to apply for positions, you will need to create an account. Setting up your own account allows you to:

  • Save your favorite jobs and searches.
  • Upload your resumes and documents.
  • Make your resume searchable.
  • Apply for jobs in the federal government.

Search functionality

The basic search feature on USAJOBS allows you to search by keyword and location. If you're just starting the process, you might want to run a basic search to see what kinds of jobs are available in your area.

If you have a better idea of what you're looking for, try running an advanced search. This function allows you to look for jobs by keyword, job title, series number and pay grade or salary range. Searching by series number is a great option if you are looking for jobs in a specific occupational field. Note that not all listings have a designated pay grade or salary range, so you may want to leave this area blank to yield the greatest results.

An even more extensive advanced search includes:

  • Location
  • Agency
  • Occupational series
  • Type of work
  • Work schedule
  • Travel percentage

You can also limit your search results to exclude jobs open for more than 30 days and sort the results by keyword relevance or date.

Position classification

When searching for federal positions, you may find acronyms in the position title, such as GS. All federal positions are classified by occupational series, grade or pay level and pay plan.

The most common pay plans in the Federal government are:

  • General Schedule, or GS, is the system under which most white-collar employees are paid. These GS positions are paid annual salaries.
  • Federal Wage System, or FWS, is the system under which blue-collar employees, who work in craft, trade or laboring positions, are paid. This system includes several different pay plans, but all FWS employees are paid an hourly wage.

You may find positions that do not fall under the GS or FWS pay plans. Some federal agencies administer their own pay systems. If you'd like information about plans other than GS or FWS, contact the hiring agency directly. You should find contact information within the job posting.

Priority Placement Positions

As you search for federal positions, don't forget about the Priority Placement Program for military spouse preference. The program gives preferences to military spouses applying for certain Department of Defense positions. You can apply for the program through your local Civilian Personnel or Human Resources Office.

Make sure to read Be Informed About Federal Employment for additional information that will help in your search for federal employment.

For information on federal resumes, visit the Applications and Resumes article in the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO. If you need help drafting a federal resume, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to search for spouse education, training and career services at your local installation. Select 'Program or service' from the drop-down menu and select 'Spouse Education, Training and Careers' from the list of programs and services. Enter your installation or ZIP code, choose the radius you would like to search within and click 'Search' to find a point of contact near you. 

You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website for additional guidance.

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