How to Land a Government Job

government jobConsidering applying for a government job? The application process differs from the private sector and applicants need to study up before embarking on a federal job search. AOL recently spoke to Kathy Troutman -- author of 'Ten Steps to a Federal Job' and 'Federal Resume Guidebook,' and president of The Resume Place, a career consulting and federal resume writing service -- to learn more about conducting a federal job search.

Q. What are the top federal jobs?

A. The top mission critical jobs are doctors, engineers, law enforcement and immigration personnel, accountants and auditors, lawyers, information technology specialists, program managers, program analysts, and administrators including contract specialist positions.

Q. What are the predictions for growth in the federal sector?

A. The predictions for job growth are excellent. According to The Partnership for Public Services' report, "Where the Jobs Are, Mission Critical Skills, 2009," more than 600,000 jobs will be filled in the next two years. That represents one-third of the entire work force. The increase in hiring stems from predictions of the number of baby boomers retiring and increased hiring in certain mission critical areas. The greatest growth is predicted in Washington, D.C., New York, Colorado, California (primarily in San Diego), Florida, Alabama, and Texas.

Q. What is the best way to find a federal job?

A. The best way is to begin looking for vacancy announcements on the Office of Personnel Management's official job website, USA Jobs. You can search from the homepage by typing in a job title, college major or job subject and a city and state. Or you can click on the advanced/international search option and improve your criteria by searching for geographic region, salary, job title, or agency name. It's a good idea to spend time looking at the postings to get to know the positions, agencies, missions, duties, and salaries.

Q. How does the resume and application process for federal jobs differ from the application process in the private sector?

A. The federal resume is much longer; the typical length is four to five pages for the average federal job seeker with 15 years' experience. The federal resume must include more information to prove specialized experience and the federal vacancy announcement will include a lot of information about the skills, qualifications, competencies, knowledge, and abilities that are needed. Applicants should make every attempt to match their resume to the announcement. This can be very taxing for most federal job seekers. They are often shocked and amazed at the amount of detail needed in the resume.

You cannot write a good federal resume until you have studied the vacancy announcement. The federal resume has to match an announcement in terms of matching the keywords and accomplishments. Many people make the mistake of writing the resume first, then applying for positions. This does not work. The resume will be too general and will not match the announcement.

The federal resume, questionnaire, and documents are like an examination. The package is scored and only the scores of 90 and above are referred to a supervisor. Veterans have preference points added to their application. Veterans with 30 percent or more disability get placed at the top of the list and people without military service or disability cannot rise above them.

Q. What role does networking play in finding a federal job?

A. Networking can be very helpful when looking for a federal job. If you know someone who works in a federal agency, you can talk to them about the agency hiring plans and possible position announcements in the near future. Introduce yourself and let them know that you would like to work for the federal government. It helps if you know the type of position that you could be qualified for when talking to your contact.

You can also find an agency that would be of interest to you, or that is in your city. Look up the organization chart of that agency to learn about the various departments and offices. Look for the managers of those departments where your skills fit. Send an e-mail directly to that person with your resume and an introduction. A federal resume is preferable and should include a cover letter.

If you are a LinkedIn member, you can look for individuals who are federal employees and try to gain an introduction. Government agencies are using Facebook and Twitter to communicate mission and program activities for the agencies. If you follow your favorite agency on Facebook, you can stay on top of news events, programs, and legislation that can help you write a better federal resume and write better introductory letters.

Q. What's the future of the federal job posting process?

A. Federal hiring reform is progressing, but changes are coming about very slowly. Vacancy announcements and applications are supposed to get simpler; but for the moment, the application process for a federal position is still complicated and requires patience, diligence, and determination.

Next: In-Demand Jobs With the Federal Government

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cathy rohrscheib

ive have been reading . i know a vet inlisted to go to college ect . well he got the honer to go to iraq. got his hand hurt . the loss of hearing in his ear. but never finnished hes now still working on it disabled .only good thing about it is. he now has a family .he wanted to teach well no book just a gun nice hmmmmm

November 09 2010 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would like to hear from an Fed HR person or hiring official (anonymously), in the USAJobs network about the "ringer effect" as stated above. The problem is they are bound by the politically correct response. They can't admit it because it would be discriminatory. The fact is there are "ringers" at every job location. The every day appicant has little if any chance at being rated highly qualified.

November 09 2010 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So can civilians play this card? The answer is yes Veterans have an edge over civilians, that is not a NEGATIVE statement, that is FACT....dont be such a baby.

November 09 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, I have to set the record straight about vets and government jobs. The applicants are sorted first by qualified and unqualified. If the person is not qualified for a specific job that he or she applied for, veteran or not, they are not on anyone's list. Next, they are then broken down further into 3 categories: 1. qualified: meets the minimum qualifications and also demonstrates minimum experience based upon resume and questionaire, 2. highly qualified: meets the minimum qualification and demonstrates full performance level based upon resume and questionaire, 3. best qualified: meets minimum qualifications and demonstrates experience as an expert based upon resume and questionaire. Veterans are awarded preference points based upon having a service connected disability and (must submit documentation) which will put them in the Best Qualified category. Only persons in the best qualified category are submitted to the selection official. Also, members recently released from active duty are usually hired under a different hiring authority. Also, if the veteran decline a job offer, they are off of the list. The problem is, with so many people out of work, there may be several thousand people applying for 1 job. Also, from what I see on USA Jobs, the only agencies doing any hiring is the VA Medical Centers, Department of Defense, and the IRS. You may see one or two vacancy announcements from Homeland Security or another agency once in a while. Most of those vacancies are for status candidates- meaning someone already working for the federal government or that particular agency.

About the illegals. Although, their numbers are about 12 million, they don't have all of our jobs and they are not all hispanic. I agree that there are rich people who can afford nannies, gardners, and the like, don't care who they hire as long as they do the job. But we should not confuse the legal immigrants with the illegal ones. A few months before I lost my job, (just when my 401k dwindled down to almost nothing), the company that I worked for, let go a whole section of computer programmers that were earning 50- $ 60,000 a year salary. The company, a month later, hired new programmers from India, paid their relocation to the US and paid them a $30,000 salary. What's wrong with this picture? I am long winded, but I am just as frustrated as anyone else. I am a 56 year old black woman with 2 degrees. I have not worked in 2 years. Lost count of how many applications and resumes I submitted and not one interview.It seems that the retail establishments are only hiring infants.

November 09 2010 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

first of all - who care about goverment jobs - What about full-time jobs in the regular business world for people who had professional jobs before and are now have been unemployed for over two years.

Like the goverment - gobverment jobs are politically control - there's no such guarantee in any goverment jobs - during my unemployment I went three interviews on goverment jobs - what I waist - All I heard from all three was - " YOU GOT GOOD POTENTIALS - WE'LL GET BACK TO YOU SOON AS WE KNOW WHERE WE STAND" fROM all 3 GOVERMENT JOBS - not one GOT BACK TO ME OR EVEN TOLD ME IF I HAD THE JOB OR JOB. MY COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE - ITS ALL BS. If believe this article your a FOOL!@

November 09 2010 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My first and second attempt at responding went "poof" in the wind. So here goes again. Most if not all government jobs on USAJobs have imbedded in the announcement or the supplemental questionare the "ringer" factor. This is where the local ace who knows how to operate the "wiget 207446 software" cleans your clock on the qualification points. If your over 40, all the hiring manager has to do is look at one of the many dates required for the application OR supplemental material. You are then TOAST because who wants to hire an old fart when they can get a younger guy cheaper and keep longer. OH MY, this is age discrimination. Hey, forget trying to prove that. It is simply done with a wing and a nod. If you seriously want a job with the FEDS you better be prepared to search for years. The article is a "Feel Good" article though. It provides some hope. The best thing the government could do is open up the software to private companies for free posting, however, that would be discriminatory.

November 09 2010 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where did all the jobs go and who sent them away? Can you please find out and blame (if you need to blame someone) the right person (s), group (s) entity or etc. There are jobs out there for the highly skill, educated, aggressive individual. What kind of work are you looking for? Your manufacturing jobs are all gone to China, India, Mexico, Vietnam (just imagine that) and any other place that corporate America could find that would take their business. This has been going on since the 1980's....the jobs are gone and they are not coming back (who said that?) I think it was a politician....hummmmmm

November 09 2010 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just wrote a few lines on walk aday in the vets shoes,they earned that preferential points,also most goverment jobs require collage.they did not print my comment about moron and their over populating the country with more uneducated morons. the tax payers have to support these losers,and illegals.I say give them a job in pakistan,iraq,instead of filling our jails and rehab centers make them earn their don't get somthing for nothing...

November 09 2010 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you are white and male, Forget about it!!!!! Affirmative action has been the rule for many years now. White males are scum to the federal government.

November 09 2010 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For those of you who read these comments, pay no attention to the negative ones. All of you veterans your entitled to go to the place of employment such as a supply depot like the ones in California at Tracy, or Rock Island or the countless other ones around the U.S and take your DD-214 and demand they open a job field you are qualified for and the are required by law to open it and if they do not have a job create one for you. My wife worked in Personnel at a Federal Installation for 30 years and did just as I am advising you to do for other Vets. But keep on filing the jobs are there and others are coming on line all the time. There is an old saying, If at first you don't succeed,. What the hell have you got to lose. If you find other employment in the mean time that suits you, then you haven't lost anything and the process kept you occupied. I retired from the military, went to a Defense Depot and asked about a job. I was told they had none that employment was frozen. I already knew about the federal lawso I mentioned it to the clerk who got her supervisor who called a depot Chief. I was invited back the next day to take an employment test that took about 6 hours and I was hired that day and put to work. I worked there till I retired and advanced to other jobs as I went along, and NO I am Not a Disabled Vet. So as I said do not pay any attention to the negative people on here who have no idea what they are talking about. Do some research at the Library on the law and go have it applied. If I could remmember the exact section I would quote it for you.

November 09 2010 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment

If you're military and you're not disabled and you're worried about a job, stay in the military. If you get out, the fed. gov. doesn't OWE YOU A JOB. So you GAVE UP SO MANY YEARS to the military, most of you got a good education and a pay while you were in. Saying they OWE you a job is like the welfare people saying that the gov. owes them a house and food. It's that same entitlement mentality. Over the years, I've paid the gov. more than a million dollars in taxes and I haven't gotten squat from them except bigger and more complicated tax forms. At least I can say that the gov. doesn't OWE me anything.

November 09 2010 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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