TO GETTING A JOB IN THE FEDERAL
A 9-step process simplified
How do I know the secret?
Because, it’s not a secret at all.
In fact, all of the information you need is included on the job announcement…the
“secret” is finding it within the massive amount of information that federal agencies
are required to include on the job announcements.
The on-line process for applying for a government job is
complex, confusing, and cumbersome. It
could be made simpler, but there are an abundance of federal rules and
regulations pertaining to federal hiring, and federal agencies are required to
include a lot of information that is unrelated to the job itself.
This paper will decipher the job announcement for you in
simple, easy-to-follow directions, written in plain English and will show you
where you need to focus to simplify the federal application process.
So let’s get started…
Click on this link www.usajobs.gov
but keep this document open (or print it first, whichever is easiest for you).
You will see boxes for “Keyword” and “Location”. Type in the job title of the job you want in
the Keyword box and type in the area where you wish to work in the Location box
and click on SEARCH. All jobs in that
area with the words you typed into the Keyword box will be listed. There could be hundreds.
REFINE YOUR SEARCH
You can refine your search using the blue tabs on the left
side of the page. You should refine by Salary or Pay Grade and Work Schedule. I would not suggest limiting a search to a
particular Department or Agency.
NOTE: There are some jobs that are only open to Individuals with
Disabilities, Veterans, Students and Recent Graduates and Senior
Executives. You can click on those links
on the USAJobs Home page (under the Keyword and Location boxes).
Once you find a job that looks interesting, click on the
title and then follow along with my instructions below.
Towards the top of the announcement you will see “OPEN
PERIOD” – that end date is the date that they will stop accepting
applications. You have until 11:59pm on
that date to get your application submitted in the system. But don’t wait until the last minute…it takes
TIME to apply (especially if this is your first time). Give yourself 2-3 hours, to be safe.
WHO MAY APPLY
Below that you will see “WHO MAY APPLY”. If it says “U.S. citizens”, it’s open to
anyone. If it says, “agency employees” –
then it’s only open to individuals
who already work at that agency – don’t bother applying (unless you already
work for that agency).
STEP 3: DUTIES
Peruse the job DUTIES section (on the first page of the job
announcement) to be sure this is a job that interests you. IF NOT, go back to the search results and
find another job and go back to STEP 1.
If the job duties appeal to you and you believe you have the skill and
experience to carry out those duties, keep going.
STEP 4: QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED
One of the MOST important parts of the job announcement is
the QUALIFICATION REQUIRED section. Read
through these very carefully. IF you
possess ALL of these requirements, keep going.
If there’s even ONE of the qualification requirements that you do NOT
have, then do NOT apply. You MUST have
experience or skill in every area
indicated. If you don’t, your
application will be tossed aside, so don’t waste your time.
HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED
Sometimes referred to as Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
(KSAs), or Rating Factors, or Other Qualifications. These are also critical because these are the
areas by which you will be rated. (Ratings
are usually in 3 categories. Different Departments and Agencies use different
terms, but generally they are: Qualified, Well Qualified and BEST
Qualified). You need to get into the
BEST Qualified group in order for your resume to be referred to the Hiring
Manager. More about how to do that that
under STEPS 6-8.
That’s it! Your focus
only needs to be on those sections to start developing your resume for that
WRITING YOUR RESUME:
Considering the fact that most agencies receive a few
hundred resumes for every job, it’s critical that yours stands out. Although a few agencies use an online system
to determine eligibility, most agency’s Human Resources staff review every
resume to determine eligibility AND to determine your overall rating. So, the more technical jobs should be written
in terms that can be understood by the layman (or woman). Remember, only those resumes rated BEST
QUALIFIED will be referred to the Hiring Manager for consideration.
Include your name obviously, but also your email address and
your daytime phone number on your resume.
You also must include the beginning and end dates of every job (month
Listen carefully now…Steps 7-9 will explain exactly HOW you
need to write your resume…
ADDRESS QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
You MUST address ALL of the Qualification Requirements
within the body of your resume. Address
them clearly, specifically, and thoroughly. There should be NO question that
you possess the required experience or skill.
Be honest. Be clear. But be
concise. You want to make it easy for
the HR staff to determine that you are qualified.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE A 30% (or more) DISABLED VETERAN – you must only meet
the MINIMUM qualification requirements to get hired. More specifically, if you DO meet the minimum
qualification requirements, you (or any other veteran who also meets those
requirements) get the job. That’s the
law. That’s your right as a veteran.
ADDRESS THE RATING FACTORS
Same advice as in Step 7.
You MUST also address all of the Rating Factors within the body of your
resume. Address them clearly, specifically
and thoroughly, but be concise. In order
for your application to be referred to the Hiring Manager your resume needs to
reflect your skill level and your ability to carry out these requirements.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE A VETERAN – your resume must rate high enough to be on the BEST
Qualified list. However, if you can get
on that list, your name will be listed FIRST, and the hiring official cannot
legally hire anyone other than you (or any other veteran on the list). This is called “veterans preference”.
Many thanks to ALL veterans for your service.
ADDRESS THE QUESTIONNAIRE
And, finally, the Questionnaire. There will be a link within the job
announcement that will take you to the questions. These questions are the agency’s attempt to
ensure that you possess the qualifications they need. And, your responses to these questions MUST
be supported by the information in your resume.
If you indicate that you are EXPERT in any area, it needs to
be proven within the body your resume.
And in order to get referred to the Hiring Manager, you will need to
prove expertise all areas.
Your RESUME is the ONLY way the agency has to determine your
level of experience and expertise. It’s
the most critical piece of the puzzle.
That’s the secret - to address the minimum qualification
requirements, the rating factors, AND the questionnaire responses within the
body of your resume, showing your expertise and high skill level through
experience. It can’t be vague.
Remember, agencies often get hundreds of applications for every
job posting. There is a massive amount
of good competition out there so your resume really needs to stand out! And, the
only way to increase your odds of getting hired is to apply to multiple jobs.
The most frequently asked question I get from my clients is
“Do I need to change my resume every time I apply for a different job?”
My answer is “Yes! Absolutely!”
So, my final piece of
advice is this: Your resume will
probably need to change somewhat (possibly a lot) each time you apply to a
different job because it needs to be customize to whatever job for which you
are applying. Even if all of the jobs
you apply to have the exact same job title, the qualification requirements
and/or questionnaire may be slightly different – depending on what skills and
experience the agency is looking for.
I know this can be overwhelming, and it requires focused time
and good writing skills. Most of my
clients have said that they just can’t devote that much time to their job
search. That’s why they hired a professional
to do it.
I’ve had several clients who had been applying to federal
jobs for many months and never got an interview. After I developed a resume for them, they
were referred to the Hiring Manager and interviewed. That’s what you want. You need to get your foot in the door.
There are specific
words and certain techniques to ensure your resume doesn’t get thrown out. Those types of tips are only reliable from
someone who has worked in or overseen a federal Human Resources staffing
division. I’ve done both.
I have 32 years of experience in the federal
government. I retired a few years ago as
a federal HR executive. I reviewed
thousands of resumes and grew the agency I worked for from 60 to about 500
employees. And what I noticed along the
way was very frustrating.
I noticed that there were outstanding applicants that we
were unable to hire because they just didn’t understand what was required. It appeared that they most likely possessed
the experience or skill, but we could not legally “assume” they had it. It HAD to be on the resume. And it wasn’t. So, I started this company the day after I
retired in order to assist applicants in applying for federal jobs. I also write resumes for private sector
positions – using the exact same blueprint.
I have insider
knowledge. I know what it takes for a
resume to move forward. There are
certain things that can immediately disqualify you that outside applicants just
If you just have a few
questions, I’m happy to answer them at no cost.
You can contact me via email at JMAdvisorySvcs@gmail.com.
I work alone, no staff.
I answer my own calls, and I do all the writing myself. All of my clients get personalized
I can develop a resume for you that really stands out and
Here’s your safety net.
If you send me your resume and the job announcement and I
determine that you are not eligible or will not rate highly, I won’t take you
on as a client.
I’m not going to charge you a fee to develop your resume if
you don’t have a good chance at getting on the BEST Qualified list. I won’t waste your money or my time. I will, however, help you find a federal job for which you do qualify (at no cost).
My fees are on a sliding scale depending on the level of job
for which you are applying.
Contact me first via email at JMAdvisorySvcs@gmail.com. Let’s chat.
Then send me the job announcement and your current resume and I will
match the two as closely as possible. My goal is to get you hired and that
requires making your resume a real eye-opener for anyone who is reviewing
The federal government is a great place to work. You get health insurance, life insurance,
vacation leave, sick leave, retirement, a savings plan with government matching
up to 5% and job security. Can’t beat
I’ve seen resume writing services that range from $99 to
$3,000. Yet I have not come across any
other company who specializes in writing resumes for federal jobs – written by
a former HR executive. My fees are very
reasonable, especially considering the expertise and insider information that I
have to offer.
J M Advisory Services,
LLC - Fee Schedule can be found on the HOME page of this website.
NOTE: If you
decide to Google me, type in “Janet Murphy HR executive”. I got married after I retired and changed my
name to Janet Christ. :D