Looking to expand your career opportunities and serve your country in a unique way? Consider applying for jobs with the federal government.
Working in government isn?t limited to political or military careers. The federal government provides many positions in a variety of fields — you can find listings for nearly any administrative, professional, or technical job from administrative assistant to archaeologist, doctor to intelligence specialist, even zoologist to astronaut.
You can find listings for almost any administrative, professional, or technical job. Think positions that range from administrative assistant to archaeologist, doctor to intelligence specialist — or even zoologist to astronaut.
Jobs within the federal government can set you up for a stable and long career in one organization with solid benefits. But it?s not always easy to secure one of those positions.
Some programs, like Pathways help college students and recent graduates get work with the federal government. Professionals already out of college and seeking jobs may find the process more challenging.
Use this guide to learn more about what to consider when searching for federal government jobs — and make the process a little easier.
Getting Started with USAJobs
The best place to search for federal government jobs is on their official website, USAJobs.gov. According to their website:
?USAJOBS.gov is a free web-based job board enabling federal job seekers access to thousands of job opportunities across hundreds of federal agencies and organizations, allowing agencies to meet their legal obligation (5 USC 3327 and 5 USC 3330) of providing public notice for federal employment opportunities.?
USAJobs.gov is the government?s official source for federal job listings. The site claims to have attracted over 17 million job seekers to date.
Anyone can search the easy-to-use interface for open positions by either keyword or location. But if something catches your eye and you want to apply for a position, you need to create an account.
Create Your Account and Apply for Federal Jobs
You just need a valid email address to sign up. Once registered, you can build or upload a resume and start submitting your information to job listings.
It?s easy to create an account, but the applications themselves are quite time-intensive. Prepare to take several hours to complete the full application. Or plan to complete the required fields in segments. (You can save your work and come back at a later time to submit your information.)
In the application, you?ll need to provide your resume, references, experience, GPA, and relevant coursework. That’s at a minimum: depending on the position, you may need to submit more materials and information.
How to Address KSAs
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (commonly called KSAs). Many open positions will include a list of KSAs an ideal candidate possesses. In your resume and application, you need to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job.
Be clear on what you bring to the table for the position — and don?t be afraid to use keywords found in the application and KSA section when you do so. This is similar to the way you choose keywords for your LinkedIn profile.
You increase the chance of someone reading and considering your resume by making it searchable. This is simple and easy to do: after building or uploading your resume, select the link that says ?Make Searchable.?
This allows prospective employers to find your resume when they search for candidates. It extends your reach beyond the individual applications you submit.
Federal Jobs vs. Private Sector Positions
As you may guess, applying for a job with federal government is a bit different than applying for a regular job in the private sector. There?s a lot more red tape and the entire process (not just filling out the application) can take up a lot of time.
While there are plenty of benefits to federal jobs, there are drawbacks, too. One of the big issues revolves around capped earning potential for those with professional or doctoral degrees. (Those with formal education up to a Master?s degree, however, usually find better pay and benefits in federal jobs.)
When it comes to salaries and raises, those numbers are often out of individual control. Cost-of-living raises tend to lag behind the rate of inflation and merit-based pay bumps are rare.
Resumes are also different when applying for a federal job. A resume written as part of an application to a federal job can be several pages outlining your specific skills. It’s like the first part of an interview. This is unlike resumes written for private sector jobs that need to be limited to one page and only help get an interview with a hiring manager.
Tips for Searching for a Federal Job
It can seem hard to crack the code and get a job with the federal government.
You?ll have more hoops to jump through, but you can take action to increase your chance of landing an interview and securing a job.
Start with these tips:
- Make sure your resume is impeccable — no errors, current, and specific
- Tailor your cover letter to each job and use the language they used in the job description (in other words, use keywords!)
- Follow the directions provided
- Don?t leave any blank fields
- Remember that applications without additional documentation will be rejected; prepare and gather your materials ahead of time
- State any awards, experience, or recognition you have received
- Describe complex duties you have performed that relate to the position
- Address KSAs in every application for each position
- Print a copy of the vacancy announcement, so you can follow-up regarding the application
Applying for a job with the federal government requires diligence and patience. But for those with high school education, some college experience, or Bachelor?s or Master?s degrees, the return can come in the form of a higher-paying job with better benefits than the private sector.
Best of luck finding your next job with the US federal government!