3 Keys to Applying for a Federal Job
With more than 2 million jobs, the Federal government is the largest US employer with many thousands of vacancies at any time. The average annual Federal workers compensation, including pay plus benefits, exceeds $124,000, but the competition for those jobs is considerable, and finding the right Federal government job for you can be a daunting journey. It is not for the faint of heart and can be somewhat frustrating. The biggest turn-off for many would-be applicants is the hiring process, which requires patience and persistence. But if you lay the foundation by completing the following three simple tasks, prior to applying, you can significantly improve your chances for success.
1st Key: Dust Off Your Resume
This is not the time to use the old cookie-cutter resume. Remember, the competition for Federal jobs is high. You have to be a standout, and it starts with the resume. The typical two page resume will not cut it. Federal resumes require more detail and are therefore a bit longer than traditional resumes. A Federal resume uses the same information from a typical resume, but goes into more depth about your skills, past duties, and accomplishments. Entry level positions often require resumes between three and five pages in length.
While conducting a review of your resume, here are a few things to focus on:
- When did you last update your resume?
- Does your resume highlight your skills and abilities?
- Does it reflect where you are now and where you want to go in the future?
- Can you see your passion in it?
Your resume should set a clear vision of what type of job you want to get, and what you bring to the table if you are hired. Identifying the most suitable jobs for you will only help you better navigate through the complicated job search process. As an applicant, you need to be able to articulate what you want most in an employer so that you find an agency and a position that you are excited about.
Key help for federal resume building:
- The Book of U.S. Government Jobs: Where They Are, What’s Available, & How to Complete a Federal Resume (available in your public library or for purchase online)
2nd Key: Take an Agency Tour
You have dressed up your resume, assessed your skill sets, and have a clear idea of what types of jobs you are interested in and suited for. However, the Federal government is large and may have opportunities that you have not considered. It is time for the agency tour.
Searching for employment in the Federal government is not just about the job. It is also about the agency where the job resides. Not all agencies may have a need for your demonstrated skill sets. And even if they do, they may only have a few positions in that area. Your goal is to research and find those agencies that not only have a need for your skills, based on their organizational mission and direction, but also can offer you the opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Think about it! 232,812 individuals were hired in the Federal sector (nationwide and overseas) in 2015. This means that here are always thousands of vacancies to choose from, making it even more critical for you to narrow your search to specific positions, organizations, or offices that fit you.
Key help for your agency tours:
3rd Key: USAJOBS is the Place to Apply
Most jobs in Federal government are posted on the USAJOBS website. USAJOBS helps job seekers find Federal employment opportunities across the United States and around the world. Federal agencies use USAJOBS to facilitate their hiring processes and match qualified applicants to job openings.
So in order to be successful in the application process, you will need to become familiar with USAJOBS. This site hosts a wide range of features specifically designed for those seeking work in the Federal government:
- It allows you to create a profile
- It provides information about Federal application process
- It allows you to explore Federal job opportunities
Now it’s time to turn the key!
About the Author: LaVerne Rayford
LaVerne Rayford is a Subject Matter Expert in human resources and human capital, and has an extensive background in program and project management, strategic planning, leadership training and development, succession planning, change management, policy development, goal alignment, human resource management, and performance improvement. She is proficient in the evaluation of operational performance and the focused identification of recommendations to streamline processes to achieve positive impact results. Ms. Rayford’s experience as a Federal human resources leader with FAA and the USPS also allows her to leverage her perspective on providing high-quality customer service and technical support as a strategic business partner.