1. IDENTIFY A GOVERNMENT JOB
FEDERAL CAREER RESOURCE: If you are not sure what federal job titles or series you should apply for, visit ONET, an online federal career description resource. Here you will find various paths to identify government job titles accompanied by descriptions of the work involved and the required knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the position. You can also research general education and experience requirements.
SEARCH PARAMETERS: You may search via skill sets, occupational titles and codes, job families and military positions. Navigating through the various search channels, you may then identify the titles and series of various federal government jobs you are qualified for. After identifying the government job titles or series, you are ready to proceed to the next step.
SEARCH FOCUS: One of the best ways to increase your chances of landing a federal position is to focus your job search on one series or job title. Also, you want to be sure that you either have viable experience or accredited education in your search field of choice. As a rule, our government hires achievement over desire and you will greatly increase your chances for success with concrete accomplishments
COMPREHENSIVE FEDERAL JOB SITE: All current Federal job openings are listed in the USA Jobs website. Here you are able to search by announcement number, job title, series, agency and/or geographic location. Be sure to answer the qualifying question found at the bottom of the search page. You may complete one or several fields to broaden or narrow your search. Note that some positions list geographic locations in broad terms such as throughout the U.S. or throughout Virginia. If you do not know a particular announcement number, a good strategy is to select a job category and begin with a broad geographic search, including the entire states as well as all cities you are willing to work in.You can then weed out undesirable locations.
ALTERNATIVE RESOURCES: Individual agencies sometimes list their employment openings on their websites as well. If you are interested in working for a particular agency, try their web sites. You may however be referred back to USA Jobs.
2. Review Job Announcement Details
Area of Consideration or Who May Apply : This lets you know whether or not you are eligible to apply. "Open to all U.S. Citizens" indicates an open announcement. Other positions are open only to status candidates, that is Federal Government employees, former re-instatement eligible employees, agency employees and/or veterans eligible under VEOA or VRA. A clarification of eligibility determinations can be found here.
CLOSE DATE : Specific details are usually available in the "How to Apply" section. Determine whether the application materials must be postmarked, faxed or submitted online by this date.
This section will also provide the exact deadline of the close date as shown by three different examples below:
"Application materials must be POSTMARKED by JANUARY 26, 2005 "
"Submit your application package directly to the Human Resources Office by close of business on the closing date. Late applications will result in your application not being considered. There will be no exceptions. "
"Announcements close at 12:00am (midnight) Eastern Time."
QUALIFICATIONS OR MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS : Carefully read the duties and responsibilities. The level of details will vary among postings. Review the Specialized Experience, Qualifying Factors, Selection Criteria and/or Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs).
The announcement will specify whether the KSAs should be addressed separately as narratives or within your resume. If there is a "view vacancy questions" link, follow it to find any KSAs that may be included in the online application process. Determine whether you can provide concrete examples of equivalent scope from your own experience to demonstrate proficiency in each area. Even if you cannot fully meet each factor you may still be qualified. You will want to have any narrative responses prepared and ready to copy and paste into the builder prior to the close date.
FORMAT OR HOW TO APPLY : This section describes the details required within the resume and preferred submission method. Determine whether you will need a presentation resume, an OF-612 or an electronic resume. If given the option of applying with form OF-612 or a resume, choose a resume but "federalize" it by adding the requested information and providing more detail of job descriptions than would be presented in a private sector resume. This format allows a more attractive presentation as well as more flexibility in space.
Start gathering the information requested such as past supervisor names and phone numbers. Go through any resume builders you will be using to identify space limitations. Various versions of Resumix including Quickhire, DISA, Avue Digital, COOL and OARS have different parameters. (Air Force and Army can be particularly tight.) Make a list of the required inclusions for the announcement which may include resume, narrative responses to KSAs, transcripts, cover letter, DD-214 and/or most recent performance evaluation (if available).
3. Prepare Application
THE GOLDEN RULE: Always follow all guidelines exactly as presented in the federal job announcement. If you fail to include any necessary information or supplemental form, you will not be considered for the position. If you are applying as a status candidate, you must include your SF-50. If you are claiming Veteran's Preference, you must either include your DD214 for 5 point preference or your SF-15 for 10 point preference.
THE SILVER RULE: Each resume, whether mailed or submitted electronically, should include as many keywords specific to the position as possible. Your resume will be scanned and/or read for these keywords and points will be assigned for criteria matched. Scour the announcement, agency web sites and publications to mine those keywords. Include any technology, principles or practices relevant to the job series or specific position.
THE BRONZE RULE: Write in assumed first person and define the scope of each work experience clearly. Include your realm of responsibility, the number of employees supervised and the annual revenue or output of the company. Most of all, include professional accomplishments, quantifying your success whenever possible. In example, "Train and direct 5 Event Directors, 12 Maintenance Staff and 75 Servers with responsibility for administration and all daily activities of 65,000 square foot conference and meeting facility. Forecast and manage $1M supply budget; negotiate contracts to ensure profitability. Grew year on year revenue by 20% annually to generate over $4.5M in 2004."
A Federal Presentation Resume should be attractive just like a private sector resume but must also include all the details requested in the announcement such as social security number, mailing address of employers, supervisors' names and phone numbers, salary and hours worked per week. The objective should include the announcement number and series/grade of position to which you are applying. A federal style resume is often much longer than would be accepted in private sector. You must demonstrate the skills you use in order to get points from the rating system.
When using federal resume builders such as USAJobs, Quickhire, or Avue Digital, prepare your resume in a word processing program so you will be able to copy and paste sections into the builder. Do not include any formatting. You should still write in assumed first person, but in paragraph style, separating functional areas with a blank line. Check character count to stay within space limitations.
Writing KSAs (aka Selection Criteria, Qualifying Factors, ECQs, PTQs, Technical Competencies) : Use 1 or 2 concrete examples from your own experience to demonstrate each knowledge, skill or ability. If possible, choose examples that are close in context, scope and function to the position you are applying for. More recent examples are stronger than earlier ones. Include principles and best practices you have applied that are relevant to the position. Incorporate plenty of details and clearly define your actions and the scope of responsibility involved. Do not assume the person rating your responses will infer anything not written.
Write the answers in the form of well-polished narrative essays using the CCAR approach, that is, Context, Challenge, Action, Result. Quantify the results in terms of process improvement, problems eliminated, time saved, money saved, revenue gained or increased performance. If we write the KSAs for you we will interview you to find strong examples from your experience demonstrating your knowledge, skills or abilities in the given areas.
If a KSA requests knowledge of propriety systems or procedures such as agency regulations, operating processes and technology, research the agency to gather as much information as possible. This question indicates preference may be given to an insider, but if this is the only obstacle you may still be qualified. Simply state in the KSA the information you have learned. If you have used similar technology, include the name of the system and the functions you performed with it.
Cover Letters: If a cover letter is not prohibited from being included in the application package, it should be included. Make sure you list all attachments on your cover letter.
FINAL RULE: Label all pages and forms with your name, social security number and announcement number.
4. Submit Materials
WHERE TO LOOK: The application method will always be located in the "How to Apply" section of the job announcement. generally, this will be near the end of the announcement and will often require extensive scrolling.
SUBMITTING VIA MAIL: Presentation federal resumes should be be printed on good quality 8 1/2" x 11" paper in conservative colors with a watermark, a weight between 20 lbs. and 25 lbs., and at least 25% cotton fiber. Do not bend, fold, or staple documents! All documents should be mailed in a large 8 1/2" x 11" envelope. Remember, for jobs requiring receiving of application by close date, you may need to overnight application through reputable carrier to ensure on-time delivery.
SUBMITTING VIA FAX: Documents should first be printed on white 8 1/2" x 11" paper and organized in resume/ksa/supplemental documentation order. A cover sheet is required and should include applicant name,Social Security number, job announcement title, job announcement number, and total number of pages. depending on agency, it is sometimes advisable to both FAX and mail application to ensure submission.
SUBMITTING ELECTRONICALLY: If you are required to use an online application system to include Resumix, Quickhire, Avue, or agency-specific systems, you should first register with system and review all parts of application process. If we complete your application, we go through the entire online process to identify any specific questions, keywords, or supplemental data required but not found in the job announcement. Some online systems require you to copy/paste entire resume while others go through step-by-step process. Be advised, very few agencies currently accept the USAJOBS online resume.
5. Monitor Progress
APPLICATION RECEIVED?: If you mailed or faxed your resume, you should call the contact person found at the bottom of the job announcement to ensure your application has been received. You might be told that this information is not available but, then again, you might actually reach someone who can confirm receipt of your application. Nevertheless, you will not be penalized for the effort.
FOLLOW-UP ON PAPER FEDERAL JOB SUBMISSIONS: If you mailed or faxed your application, please call the contact number again after two weeks to re-confirm submission. at this point, you can ask if they have any further questions or if candidates have already been chosen. Keep in mind that some federal government jobs take 3 to 6 months to fill, so please do not get impatient if you have not heard back from the agency you've applied with.
FOLLOW UP ON ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS: Generally, you will be contacted automatically via email if you apply for a government position online. Certain flavors of Resumix also track your application status for you. If you do not receive any confirmation of nomination, you should contact the appropriate hiring authority either via email or telephone to investigate your application status.
TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS: Increasingly, the federal government is conducting first interviews over the telephone. you will be contacted by a hiring representative who will then ask you a few questions and then set a time for a more comprehensive interview. You should always have your complete application on hand for telephone interviews and make sure you are prepared to answer any questions regarding employment gaps, specialized experience, education, and professional development.
Links to Federal Agencies here.