Federal Job Search

Federal Job Search Process

So you’ve decided to work for the federal government, but you’re not sure what jobs match your skills, experience, and education. Our federal career coaches will teach you to navigate the federal hiring system or find jobs for you.

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How to Apply for a Federal Job

As with most job applications, the federal government requires a resume, but a federal resume is much different from what is expected in the private sector. First, a federal resume can be anywhere from four to up to 10 pages in length. There are six job blocks provided on a USAJOBS resume builder that allow up to 5,000 characters per block. A federal resume must also include special keywords and phrases found throughout the vacancy announcement to pass the initial screening process. Although there are similarities, each agency (and often, each job announcement) will have specific information required, as specified in the vacancy announcement. The information below will describe each category on a federal vacancy announcement. You’ll need to understand what each category means in order to be successful in your federal job search.

How to Read Federal Vacancy Announcements

Each announcement will include important information, such as who is eligible to apply and qualifications that must be demonstrated in your work history, and may identify mini-KSAs, mandatory supplemental statements or questions.

  • Eligibility

    Many federal job announcements are open to the general public, which means anyone may apply for the job; however, most announcements require American citizenship for basic eligibility. If the vacancy is for Status Candidates only, it is most likely open only to federal government employees and military veterans or who are eligible for Veterans’ Preference points. Some are restricted to current agency employees only. Read the vacancy announcement carefully to determine eligibility.

  • Qualifications

    Federal job announcements usually list a job summary and qualifications for the position that must be demonstrated in your work experience. Your resume will be scored according to how the experience you list matches these requirements. The key to a successful submission is to highlight skills the announcement is asking for in your work history, where appropriate, avoiding unnecessary details that might be interesting but do not add value and can distract from more important experience.

  • Grade Levels

    The federal government uses grade- and pay-level structures such as the General Schedule (GS) system to identify positions, pay, and seniority. Entry-level positions are designated as GS-4 and below. GS-5 through GS-6 positions are lower-level positions with greater authority, equivalent to a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in the military services. GS-7 through GS-11 positions are middle management positions equivalent to company grade officers, while GS-12 through GS-15 positions are upper-level management jobs equivalent to field grade officers or department managers in the civilian world. Senior Executive Service (SES) positions are top-level management positions in the government. Within each grade level are 10 steps that indicate seniority and rate of pay within that level. Occasionally, government workers can actually receive a promotion by taking a lower grade with a higher step level. Most announcements require at least one year of experience at the next lowest level, although education can sometimes substitute for this requirement.

  • Federal Job Application

    Each announcement has specific application instructions, including a closing date, resume format, and possibly additional documentation. Some require copies of your transcripts (these do not usually need to be official transcripts during the initial application phase), copies of military records such as a DD-214, or other government documents related to prior service as a federal employee. You will be told whether you need to apply through an online system, to email or fax a resume and assorted documents, or to mail in your application with a specified number of copies of each document submitted. Complete applications are usually due to be received by midnight (EST) on the evening of the announcement closing date. Specific instructions on KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities), ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications), or other supplemental statements and questions are also explained.

  • Supplemental Statements and Questionnaires

    Specific instructions on KSAs, ECQs, or other supplemental statements and questions will be listed in the announcement, but these can be confusing, especially in some of the online application systems. Read this information carefully, as some requirements can be very specific, limiting the size of margins, character counts, font size, and other factors. Some statements are entered into an online field, while others must be uploaded as a separate document. Any deviation in required format can result in a rejection of the entire application. When creating a separate document for submission, it’s a wise idea to use a header with your name, Social Security Number (if required), phone number, and the vacancy announcement number, job title, and grade. Oftentimes, responses to questions will be separated for more than one reviewer to evaluate, and this simplifies matters if your statements are printed and the pages become separated for review.

Federal Job Resume Writing

Our federal resume-writing process is easy, straightforward, and interactive. You send us your career information and targeted federal application (vacancy announcement), and our Federal Resume Writers and Federal Career Coaches abide by our Quality Guided Process and ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the careers industry.

Applying for a federal job can be a daunting process and our team of professional Career Advisors can match your qualifications to federal job vacancies consisting of specific general series and grades, as well as providing guidance on vacancy requirements and we’ll even develop your USAJOBS resume and take all the guesswork out of the process.

Get started: Call us at 800-471-9201 or submit a copy of your current resume and federal application of interest, and our federal career coaches will do the rest.

NEED HELP? It’s easier than ever to apply for a government job because 89% of federal agencies now use the USAJOBS online federal application system. We’ll worry about the character counts, the content, the keywords, and matching your experience to specific federal job series and grades. We’ll hit the mark and develop the most successful federal application that will produce the best results for your Return on Investment (ROI).