The Federal Government is Still Running . . . and Hiring
After a hiring freeze and amidst all of the rhetoric about shrinking government, the gears of the federal bureaucracy still turn and jobs are still being filled. We’ve written a lot over the past month or two about options for federal employees who are considering a move to the private sector. This week’s article looks at continued career opportunities within the government.
To be clear, the President’s proposed budget clearly envisions a smaller federal workforce. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s memo of April 11 issued a specific directive for government agencies to look for immediate workforce cuts and to submit plans for longer term reduction goals to the White House by June 30 (see our post Government Jobs in Limbo).
At the same time, top level positions in the administration are open. In a June 7 article, CNN Money reported that 1100 top-tier positions remained open in the administration, with nominees submitted for only 111 of them.1 Some of these presidential appointments may ultimately go unfilled, presumably as a component of the campaign to eliminate government waste, but it many of the high level Plum Book positions will eventually get filled. And there are additional executive level positions – a search of the USAJOBS database at the time this article was written identified an additional 173 Senior Executive Service postings.
Strong demand for Defense and VA jobs
USAJOBS currently lists over 10,000 open positions. The Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Administration are the two leading agencies, with plenty of opportunities for applicants in healthcare and technical fields. The Department of Defense currently has over 5,000 open positions posted on USAJOBS, including medical positions, program managers, scientists, accountants, logistics specialists, and engineers. 234 GS-14 and GS-15 pay grade positions are posted, with pay ranges beginning over $100,000/year.
The Veterans Administration (VA) still has over 4,000 positions posted on USAJOBS, but there are some hiring restrictions still in place at the agency. At the end of the hiring freeze in April, the VA elected to leave a version of the freeze in place for some senior positions, requiring approvals for high level positions in the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration.2
Current VA listings include physicians, neurologists, psychiatrists, geriatric nurses, occupational health professionals, and many other job descriptions. The pay isn’t bad, either. One posting for a part-time staff physician in Albequerque, NM lists the pay range between $101,967 and $348,000 per year. Not bad for 8 hours a week, huh?
Listings are more sparse from other agencies, but we did discover a few interesting openings. For instance, there’s a fascinating slot available on the development team that raises money for the National Gallery of Art. There are also a couple of openings for IT Specialists in Information Security working in the Executive Office How would you like to be tasked with monitoring the security of the President’s smart phone?
How do you land a federal government job?
USAJOBS is the place to start. The federal government’s automated job board lists most federal openings and facilitates applications from both current federal employees and those who are considering a government career. USAJOBS can seem complex. It functions both as a search engine for federal jobs and as the government’s applicant tracking system, allowing decision makers to filter applications according to keywords and other criteria.
Because job criteria are specific, it’s important to target the positions where you’re likely to receive a “best qualified” ranking. USAJOBS provides filters that allow you to search by agency, department, salary range, hiring path, and general schedule (GS) pay grade. Special consideration for hiring may also be given to veterans, military personnel who are retiring or transitioning, and to those already employed with the federal government.
Understanding the application process can be a little tricky. Terms may change from agency to agency and the process can also be different. Pay attention to the details and to the instructions. Slight changes in procedures between agencies and departments can affect how you submit your resume and application.
Crafting Your Federal Resume and Application
Your USAJOBS resume is quite different from a corporate resume. Federal agencies require a format that is precise, even though the content may differ from application to application. Regardless of your competence and suitability for the position, you can be immediately disqualified if you screw up the format.
In addition to the resume, you will usually be required to answer a series of job-specific questions. It’s important that the content of your resume and your questionnaire responses reinforce each other and provide a consistent presentation of your experience and capabilities.
Here are three additional considerations that will help you prepare your application:
- Prepare a summary of skills – A skills summary provides a high level overview of your capabilities. It should include keywords that can be indexed by USAJOBS and also be “human-readable” to provide a good first impression for the decision makers who scan the search results.
- Tailor the keywords to the position – Identify the most important keywords used in the federal job description and make sure that they are used appropriately in your resume and in your responses. Pay attention to context – use the keywords to describe your core competencies.
- Use real-life examples – Illustrate your achievements with anecdotes about your accomplishments. Describe problems and the solutions and how you accomplished a goal. Hiring decision makers understand that past experiences are a good predictor of future performance. Your stories can make the difference in the rating your application receives.
You’ll find additional tips and more valuable information about USAJOBS resumes and applications on this website. We hope you find them helpful.
Getting a Competitive Edge for your Federal Career
It’s obvious that good employees are required to keep the federal government running. Even if the new administration is successful in significantly reducing the size of the federal workforce, the US government will remain a major employer and government agencies will provide promising career paths for talented people like you. But, fewer employees can also mean more competition for the positions that advance your career. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could find a competitive edge?
For over 30 years, the Master Resume Writers at CareerPro Global have focused on the complexities of the federal hiring system. For many career employees, we’ve become the experts they trust to help them navigate the system and to write job-winning federal resumes, from entry level to the Senior Executive Services. CareerPro Global can work with you to craft a compelling resume and application package that can give you a competitive edge, earning “best qualified” rankings and interviews for your first or your next federal job. We hope you’ll get in touch for a free career consultation.
1 Borak, Donna, Trump is crippling his agenda by leaving top jobs unfilled, money.cnn.com, 6/7/17.
2 Serbu, Jared, VA says hiring freeze is over – except for thousands of headquarters jobs, Federal News Radio, April 27, 2017.
Photo Credits: U.S. Army (masthead), Pixabay (bike race)