The federal hiring process has changed -- for the better! The written Knowledge, Skills and Abilities narratives are 95 percent gone, so applying means posting a USAJOBS resume and completing a multiple-choice questionnaire. The application process is still complicated, but if you can play poker, golf, bridge, monopoly or another game with complex instructions and a little strategic thinking, you can compete for a federal job. Here are a few of my favorite tips and insights about what's new and important in federal hiring after the reforms of last year:
1. The written narratives as part of the government job application – KSAs – are mostly gone.
This is the best news about the hiring reform that was implemented in November 2010. Before then, government job applications required half-to-one-page written narratives for about four or five required skills for the position, such as: how you can "communicate orally," "plan or coordinate," or provide technical expertise in your field.
2. Time for applying for federal jobs is cut in half.
Many more job seekers are applying for federal positions now that the narrative KSAs are eliminated. This change means that the total time investment required to apply for each position is roughly half of what it would have been under the old system.
3. Now is the time to apply.
The government agencies finally got their budget for 2011. But the budget year will be over at the end of September 2011. So this is a great time to look at announcements and apply for positions. They'll still be hiring after the budget year ends, but right now there are more positions posted.
4. The government job application process is totally online, with a resume builder and upload system.
I recommend that you copy and paste your resume into the builder, even though it will take you 30 to 45 minutes to set up your first resume. The resume builder will prompt you to give certain resume details that are critical for your qualifications, such as: month and year of employers for at least 10 years; hours per week, supervisor's name, employer's phones, salaries for positions going back 10 years.
5. Federal positions are the best in the country.
The entire application process -- from finding the best announcement through using the resume builder, completing the questionnaire and uploading both the cover letter and transcript -- will take time, determination and patience. But the end result could be an outstanding career for you, security for your family and an opportunity to provide service to America.
Tips for Applying
Set up your accounts to apply for government jobs. There are usually two parts to each application: 1. The Resume Builder in USAJOBS.gov; and 2. The Questionnaire in ApplicationManager.gov. Both systems require a user name and password. The Questionnaire can have between 10 and 80 questions, but they are multiple choice, so they don't take too long.
Give yourself as much credit as you can. Read the multiple-choice questions and determine your answers carefully. You will be self-scoring your skills for the human resources reviewer. You will usually have 5 choices for each question, and can often choose one of the following:
- I have no experience or education in this skill area.
- I have education in this field, but have never done this work.
- I perform this work closely supervised.
- I perform this work independently, with little or no supervision.
- I am an expert in this work. I supervise others or I am the person who is consulted in this area because of my expertise.
Your resume must match the answers to your questionnaire. If you select the "5", or the highest score, your resume must demonstrate this expertise. Edit your resume slightly for each application, so that the resume shows that you have the skills that are listed in the announcement and the questionnaire.
Order your college transcripts right away. You do not have to upload originals. You can scan all of your transcripts into one file and upload them into USAJOBS.gov. Later the agency you are applying to might ask for an original, but they are not needed for the applications.
Write a cover letter now with your application. You can upload this into USAJOBS or ApplicationManager.com. This is another step that you can take with your federal application according to recent federal Hiring Reform regulations. The letter is optional, but could help you stand out.
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