You may be excited about the opportunity to use your talents working for the federal government. Having realistic expectations of what is involved in the process can keep you motivated as you seek federal employment.
It may take six months or longer to complete the federal government hiring process and receive a job offer. Consider taking a temporary or long-term private sector job during your federal employment search, particularly if you need ready income.
Federal managers can predetermine the candidates they want to fill vacancies or decide to accept only inside applicants by using special exceptions and avoiding advertising positions externally. If possible, build your network within your agency of interest and try to get an introduction to federal managers who hire for the positions you’re looking for.
The following pointers may help when you apply for a federal position.
The hiring process
- Learn more about the federal hiring process.
- Monitor the USAJOBS website and agency sites daily to keep from missing great positions, which may have short open and close periods to limit the number of potential applicants.
- Set up keyword searches in your areas of interest.
- Study how agencies advertise for the types of positions you’re looking for, so you can be ready to submit your application and resume promptly when you find an opportunity.
- Make sure you meet all qualifications for the position.
- Illustrate your contributions to an organization using percentages, numbers and dollars, when possible. Consider the following examples:
- Hired, trained and mentored 10 to 12 new team members per quarter
- Added 250 customers and increased sales by $5 million in 2015
- Increased revenue by 15 percent in a 90-day period by redesigning sales process
- Completely fill out the 'Resume Builder' on USAJOBS, even if you have a resume to upload.
- Make your resume searchable by clicking on the 'Make Searchable' box when you are filling out your USAJOBS profile. This can help prospective employers find you.
- Upload both Word and PDF versions of your resume and other documents to make it easy for the recruiter to retrieve and share your information.
- Organize your resume in a format that best highlights your qualifications. Federal employers now allow applicants to upload resume formats of their choice.
Applications and follow-up
- Submit a complete package with all required documentation. Read the entire job announcement to make sure you understand and follow all requirements.
- Use the additional information field as a space to market yourself and gain a competitive edge over applicants who leave it blank.
- Apply early and have all necessary documents ready to upload.
- Provide five references to validate your work ethic and character.
- Save copies of your responses to online questions and essays. Consider writing your responses in Word, and then copy and paste the text into the application to save time and avoid mistakes.
- Keep copies of your entire resume package, remembering that it may take six months or more to receive a response. This will help you be prepared when you do get a call.
- Wait two to three weeks after the job submission has closed, and then email or call the contact person listed on the job announcement to follow up. Do not call if the announcement states that no follow-up calls are accepted.
Get your foot in the door
- Consider paid or unpaid internships and show what you can offer the organization.
- When you are searching for jobs on USAJOBS, you may want to consider temporary positions marked 'NTE/TEMP/TERM' to gain federal experience, let you show your worth and help you build your network.
Once you are a federal government employee, Hiring Information: Details and Transfers provides information about transferring to a new federal position when you relocate. If you have additional questions, speak with your manager or the Office of Personnel Management.
Other resources to consider include the following:
- Searching for Federal Employment
- Using Keywords to Boost Your Resume
- Understanding the Federal Hiring Process
For assistance with any aspect of federal employment or your job search, contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for additional guidance.