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USAJOBS.com Federal Government Jobs – How to Get a Federal Job

Updated on May 9, 2013

Going to USAJOBS.gov would give you a chance to produce your profile that recruiters can search for. It would also give you the opportunity to search and apply for government jobs that you are interested in. Each posting shows its requirements, and there is no negotiation on having these. You must have them to qualify. Browsing through the job postings gives you the chance to look at these requirements, and see if you match up. If you find a posting you are qualified for and that you want to have, you can apply. However, before you apply for jobs, or before recruiters seek you out, you want to have a next to perfect profile set up on USAJOBS.gov. This Hubpage will go over how to set up your profile, and it will go over other things that are crucial in order to gain a government job.

There are two ways to create government resumes. The best way to put your resume on USAJOBS.gov is to “build your resume,” an option they give you. This is ideal for those who are searching for someone of your caliber. It is also ideal for the jobs you find and want to apply for. You can just give them the resume you built. The resume builder is easier, and the government prefers it. However, there are some government jobs that require a regular resume (with specific qualifications) to be mailed to them. There are other reasons a regular-type resume may be needed, so this Hubpage will go over both types of resume.

Build Your Resume on USAJOBS.gov

Federal Resume

THE FEDERAL RESUME

The regular-type resume, the federal resume, will illustrate to the government how qualified you are for the specific position. Hiring officials judge applicants to make sure they meet certain eligibility criteria. If they do not, they are absolutely not considered for that position, and possibly not for any government position. Therefore, it is important to know what is conditional and what is not according to the government. Government resumes should use the chronological resume format. The hiring official reviews the resume for initial qualifications such as where, when, and how long you were at the positions you mentioned, along with a lot of other information. Do not use the functional resume format. The following list is what is required in a federal resume. If this information is missing, you may be automatically rejected.

Information about the Job Posting:

The Announcement number

The Job Title

The Series

The Grade of the Job

Personal Information

Full Name

Full Mailing Address

Daytime and Evening Phone Numbers including the Area Codes

A Valid E-Mail Address

Your Social Security Number

The Country of Your Citizenship

Veteran’s Preference

Retirement Eligibility

The Highest Federal Civilian Grade Held

Education

High Schools, including their City, State, and Date of Your Diploma or GED

All Colleges and Universities, including their City, State, Majors, Type and Year of All Degrees Received

Work Experience

What Your Job Title Was

Duties and Accomplishments

Employer’s Name and Address

Supervisor’s Name and Telephone Number

Starting and Ending Dates

How Many Hours Per Week You Worked

Your Salary

Whether You will Allow Them to Contact Your Supervisors

Other Qualifications

Job-related Training Courses

Skills

Certificates and Licenses

Honors, Awards, and Special Accomplishments

Publications

Memberships in Professional or Honor Societies

Leadership Activities

Public Speaking

Performance Awards

Your federal resume should be approximately 4 to 8 pages long. However, if you do not have enough information to fill up 8 pages, it is better to have 4 pages of good quality than to have 8 pages of poor quality just to have quantity. The resume should be plain with no special formatting. Do not use thick or colored paper. Do not ever put “see attached” or “will explain.” You can attach college documents or anything that will make you look more impressive. If you would like to show them more information, but do not want to be disqualified for sending the wrong information, you can contact the “Point of Contact” listed on the job posting. Ask them any questions you may have. If you do not understand something in the posting, ask them about it. This portion also holds true for the “build your resume” section. Anything you can claim and upload, include it, but again, do not be afraid to call the Point of Contact to ensure you are sending the right amount of information. Calling them would be a smart idea, because you don’t want to provide them with information that might make you look bad. It may be best to only put your transcripts, references, test scores, and a cover letter if they ask for them.

When you are mailing your resume or other documents for a particular position, be sure to mail all information separately for each job. Do not combine applications or resumes for more than one position in one envelope. Usually, these documents go to different people. Separating them ensures that the correct documents go to the correct person. Do not staple your papers. Sign the documents to be professional. The BIGGEST things the federal government is looking for is a solid work history and a strong sense of work ethics. Make certain you mention those items in your resume! The other important phrase they are looking for is “ability to learn quickly.” Put that on your resume!

It is professional and often necessary to include a cover letter with your application and resume when you mail them in. With the cover letter, you need to make it short and to the point. The first paragraph should specifically list out the job details (The Announcement number, The Job Title, The Series, and The Grade of the Job). Also include where you found the job posting and when you found it. The second paragraph should mention, “…as you will see…my skills and abilities match perfectly with…” and reiterate your ability to learn quickly. In the third paragraph, indicate that you appreciate their time and consideration and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. The rest of this Hubpage will go over how to create a resume with the “build your resume” tool. Follow these same guidelines for what you put in your federal resume to mail. You want to include the same information.

AN EXPEDITED RESUME

If you are accepted in an expedited position, you are just “hired” with no questions. These are quick hired with no interviews. You enter a classroom full of about ten people, who are your classmates that got expedited jobs too, not your competition. Be sure to hit the key words and include the saying “ability to learn quickly” on the resume. To find an expedited job, in the search screen, in the first box, write “expedited.” Leave the second block (the location) blank.

THE “BUILD A RESUME” RESUME

Start with your civilian resume to give you ideas of your previous job duties. Key words are mentioned below. Hit 80% of the key words in the job posting. Show you are the candidate they are looking for.

THE MAIN THING THE GOVERNMENT LOOKS FOR

They are concerned with your work history, your work ethic, whether you are a fast learner, and whether you are a hard worker. Their goal is to build you from the ground up. The other key to making your resume stand out amongst the others is to provide RELEVANT information only. Tell them what they want to hear based off of the job description you are applying for. When they see your resume, make sure it is compelling, and it makes them want to keep reading. When you discuss your job duties, list your strongest ones first.

THE SECOND PORTION OF THE APPLICATION

The second part of the application takes you to another program which asks you questions. All questions goes from “not at all” to “expert.” This determines if you are qualified for this position. The hiring professionals not only rate you on your awesome resume, but also if you are qualified based on the second section of the application. The second section of the application is the Application Manager. It asks whether you can do specific duties related to the position or not. Everything should be a “D” or an “E” showing you can do it. If you cannot hit a “D” or and “E,” and are hitting “A’s” and “B’s,” quit. You are not qualified for this position, so don’t waste anymore time.

REFERENCES

Tell the government that they are allowed to contact your references and provide their company’s phone number. Talk to them to let them know you will be using them. Let them know what you are doing and where you are applying. Prepare and coach them on what to say. Help them with character statements that they will need to say about you. You will need 3 professional references and 2 personal references. The only questions they should be asked is whether you are re-hirable, whether you are employable, whether you show up to work on time, and what your dates of employment were. Do not give them someone who thinks bad of you and will give you a bad reference. Only include people who will help you out.

EXPERIENCE

You can add, “Prior to…., I had experience….(you don’t have to say when)….with <what they are looking for>. Put your relevant information there. Use the spell check here. Include your best supervisor’s name and telephone number. Call them in advance to let them know what you are doing. On the resume, show the big bucks you have made in the past, but only put the numbers down if they help you. Consider the benefits you got at that company. Add the value of those benefits to your pay to make your salary higher. If instead, you put your base pay or net pay, you may be low-balled when they come up with how much they will pay you for the position. If you worked for Toys-R-Us as a stocker in the back in 2000, a cashier in 2002, and a manager in 2003, you need to combine the dates, but separate the jobs into paragraphs. Briefly, here is an example:

TOYS-R-US -- 2000 TO 2003
I succeeded as a stocker in the back of the store unloading trucks.
Then, I was able to advance to the status of a cashier and had excellent customer service skills.
These customer service skills were so impressive that my supervisor promoted me to be the store manager.

EDUCATION

Do not include your high school. Show that you have learned much since high school. If you never went to another school or got another degree, include in-house training or even on the job training. Any type of relevant training can help you get the job. Show any extra skills, such as CPR. Put any and all coursework. If you feel like you are putting more than you should, it will not hurt you.

For your JRT (Job Related Training), list your titles, and the completion dates of the training courses relevant to the position you are seeking. You have 5,000 characters to fill up this section. You also have 5,000 characters to fill up your Professional Publications. Enter job related honors, awards, leadership activities, such as computer software proficiency or typing speed, or any other information requested by the job announcement. You have 2,000 characters to fill up this section.

KEY WORDS

You must hit the key words. That is what they are looking for. To get a job description for the job posting’s title and the key words that go along with it, go to ONET online. For your resume, this is how you get your 4 to 6 pages. Key words are considered “flowers.” They need to know you consider yourself 100% accountable for your mistakes or results. They need to know you are a good worker. Also, specify numbers. For example, “at ABC Company, solved a $20 Million dollar variance.” Pick several key words from that particular job position, pull those key words, and include them in them in your resume. ONET tells you everything about every job position. Do not say things like “I have knowledge,” instead use ACTION/ACTIVE words. TAILOR your resume to the job posting you are applying for.

Don’t use bold words or special formatting. For your work history, do not use bullets, but instead, tell a story. Use paragraphs. Show groups you are involved in. Make it sound like you are an honorable person. Include Big Brother/Big Sister, coaching your friends’ soccer group, but don’t say anything about church, being single, having kids, being married, or any other personal information.

COMMENTS

It does not hurt at all to put more than required here. Focus on your soft skills, such as, motivation, energy, team player, fast learner, and strong ethics. Federal resumes require that you have full disclosure, but you do not need to tell them EVERYTHING. They will do a credit check and a background check. If you want to check those things out yourself before hand, contact your local DMV and retrieve your report for $15.00. You can obtain your criminal background check for $13.00. If you have a shady past, tell them the reason for the skeleton in your past.

AFTER YOUR RESUME IS BUILT

When you search for jobs on the front page, leave the first box blank, and in the second box, enter “Oklahoma City, Oklahoma” or whatever city and state you want a job in. Don’t have tunnel vision, and stick to your career only. For example, you may not have medical experience, but check out the job listing. You may be able to do it without knowing medical technological terms. You may not have the career experience, but you probably have the practical experience. Put it on your resume! Think about it. You have done it all! If you are looking in culinary arts careers, you can add to your skills that you are an experienced cook with ten years of experience (You’ve cooked at home!).

When you are searching for a federal job, aim lower. They want to be able to promote you. Most people start at a grade 5 or a grade 7. If the posting says 5/13, it means GS5 to 13, meaning you have a wide range to grow in that position. Even in a GS5 position alone, you have steps 1 through 10 (each number meaning an annual raise). This means you can get promoted 10 years in the same job title. If you chose grade level 1 to 15, keep in mind grades 12 to 15 are for upper management (experienced military personnel only). Grade 7 is a good starting point. If you are a grade 5 (almost the lowest salary), in one year, you will move up to a grade 7 if you do a decent job.

HOW FAST TO APPLY

Apply at least within 80 days. You must apply fast. If you need to apply super fast, apply within 50 days. The “Closing Date” they list includes the time it takes to do a background check and all that, so hurry! The latest you should apply is four days before the closing date. Watch your email, because they will email you if you are qualified or not. They will also email you to set up an interview. If you are not qualified, call them to ask them what you missed or why you did not get an interview.

HOW TO GET HIRED

You have to have an awesome resume and a star interview. Make sure on your resume that your personal information is professional. Don’t put your email as sexystar44@email.com or your phone number as 1-404-555-SEXY. When the hiring officials have 300 resumes for one position and want to weed it down to 100, they can easily do this by just glancing at your contact information.

The Benefits of “Build Your Own Resume”

You can create one awesome resume. Then, you can just duplicate it four times to have 5 different resumes. After that, you can grab which one is applicable for the position you are applying for. Rename each of the 5 resumes the job titles. With the 4 copied resumes, personalize and tailor them for different positions that you may apply for. Look up the qualities of those positions, and put those key words in there. You could name them: Joe Blow – Manager, Joe Blow – Accountant, Joe Blow – Cashier, Joe Blow – Administrator, and Joe Blow – Clerk.

AFTER BEING HIRED

Once hired, you have six months to one year of a probationary period. During this time, you would really have to do something illegal in order to lose the job. After you are permanently internal, there are usually approximately 400 openings. If you can tolerate your probationary period, you can move around. Often, workers want to stay in their probationary jobs, because there is less stress, and you can get a number of raises.

EXAMPLE

We will go through one example. Searching through USAJOBS.gov in Oklahoma City, I found a Social Services Aid and Assistant.

Here’s a brief description:

Conducts interviews with programs

Provides training

Explains programs

Evaluate relevance of information collected to the clients’ problems

Develops conclusions and send to referrals

Prepares folders

Provide information and services

Data collection from child and family programs

Participates with staff in programs, problems, and issues.

Markets a wide range of prevention programs and support activities.

To create your resume for this job opening, go to www.onetonline.org, and look at the Occupation Quick Search. Enter “Social Services Aid and Assistant.” The closest one I found was Social and Human Services Assistant. I only printed the first page (because there are many) and circled the key words to show you how to do it [figure 1]. You pick the words from the federal posting. Do this for all sections of ONET. Since you are matching them up with the federal posting, circle those words too [figure 2]. Now, based on all the pages of ONET and sentences you have circled, you can swap them around to make a very relevant resume.

Figure I

Figure II

The Benefits of Federal Employment

Federal employment has “mirror protection” after your probationary period. They must actually FIND a reason to fire you. When you start, you have 4 months of a training school and then 3 months of on the job training (again, starting at a 5 usually, and ending at a 7). At this point, they have invested so much into you; the cost of letting you go is too high, so they will keep you. It is a very secure position at this point.

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Really useful information! I work with a large group of job-seekers, and I will share this on our Google Group. It's often confusing to apply for government jobs - especially Federal positions. So this is hugely helpful!

    Voted up and shared!

  • misslong123 profile image
    Author

    Michele Kelsey 3 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

    Thanks! I really hoped it would be.

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