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If you are looking for a job, nobody offers a wider variety of opportunities than the Federal government. As the nation's largest employer with almost two million civilian employees, Uncle Sam is always hiring. The jobs offered through Federal agencies include something for almost everyone with a wide variety of skills and interests, so if you're an accountant or a zoologist or something in between, there's likely a job waiting for you in our nation's Federal government.
Now is a particularly exciting time to pursue a Federal job. Our government is changing the way it does business and is promoting more dynamic work environments. To reward high performers, many Federal employees will soon have their pay tied more closely to their performance. In order to attract new employees, agencies also offer student loan repayments, signing bonuses and flexible work schedules.
Where the Jobs Are: Mission Critical Opportunities for America, a report released by the Partnership for Public Service (http://www.ourpublicservice.org/OPS/publications/viewcontentdetails.php?id=118), outlines government-wide projected hiring needs through 2009 and is based on a survey of 34 federal agencies representing nearly 99% of the federal workforce. The survey finds nearly 193,000 mission critical jobs need to be filled in the next two years.
Federal job opportunities aren't solely limited to Capital Hill. In fact, 85% of Federal employees work outside the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, and more than 50,000 work overseas.
The following map shows a percentage of Federal jobs by region, which may help you grasp just how far-reaching working for the government really is:
Source: The Best Places to Work
There are many reasons to work for the Federal government, but perhaps one of the largest benefits is the chance to make a difference in the lives of others, and work for the well-being of the nation.
So, if you're jobseeker, remember the United States' largest employer. They're hiring. Now! Here's how you can become one of the tens of thousands new government employees hired this year.
Good luck, Matthew Lesko
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The Federal government not only offers opportunities for people of every skill level to make a difference in helping their country and the world, it also encourages a healthy work-life balance and offers some good benefits. Here is a closer look at what the Federal government has to offer:
The Best Places to Work ranks the top agencies in the Federal government and analyzes which agency is the best job to have. The Best Places to Work rankings are the most comprehensive and authoritative rating and analysis of employee engagement in the federal government. The 2007 rankings are the third edition of this ongoing series, following the 2003 and 2005 versions. To view the complete list of rankings for 2007, go to: http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/
The Best Places to Work also shows you where the top 10 largest government agencies are located, by state: http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/jobseekers/
As you can see, the Federal government is a good place to work, no matter where you live!
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management maintains a central database, called USAJOBS (http://www.usajobs.gov/) that lists nearly every Federal job opening available to the public. This is the official job site of the United States Federal Government and it is provided at no cost to you. Searching this database online or by telephone is the first step to finding a job. Jobseekers can also contact agencies directly for assistance and for information about special hiring programs. However, jobseekers shouldn't leave out traditional methods, such as reading classified ads and attending job fairs. Many agencies use ads and fairs to supplement their recruiting efforts.
Website SearchesThe USAJOBS website, http://www.usajobs.gov/, allows jobseekers to sort job openings by occupation, location, occupational group, keyword, grade level, salary, and government agency. The advanced option allows visitors to search by any or all of these factors simultaneously. You can even program the USAJOBS site to repeat your searches automatically and they will email the results every day or every week.
Automated Telephone SystemIf you don't have regular access to the Internet, the USAJOBS automated telephone system is available by calling 1-703-724-1850 or TDD 1-978-461-8404. By telephone, jobseekers can access worldwide current job vacancies, employment information fact sheets, and applications and forms, and in some instances, apply for jobs by phone. The telephone system gives a few details about each job opening, including job title and location, and then offers to mail the full announcement.
Contacting Agency Offices In addition to using the USAJOBS database, applicants can contact Federal government agencies directly. This method is especially important when searching for jobs that are not required to be posted on USAJOBS.
There are many benefits to calling agencies directly. Human resources specialists can often direct jobseekers to appropriate openings quickly, helping them to match their skills to jobs. They can also explain special hiring programs (for a more detailed list of these programs, see below), including the Outstanding Scholar Program for people who are college graduates, who have grade point averages of at least 3.45 or who have academic honors, and who are applying to designated occupations; the Bilingual or Bicultural Program for people who speak Spanish or have cultural knowledge important to the job; and the direct-hire authorities for occupations identified as having a shortage of qualified workers. Workers in information technology occupations and some medical occupations currently qualify for direct hiring programs in many agencies. Jobseekers who are minorities or veterans or who have disabilities also can ask to speak to a specialist who focuses on helping workers in these populations. Most agencies have such specialists.
Check online or in the telephone book for an agency's contact information. You can also find a list of agencies online at: http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml
Other Places to Look for OpeningsFederal employers often supplement USAJOBS postings with advertisements in newspapers and journals and on private job boards. Many Government agencies also provide school career centers with information about jobs, internships, co-ops, and special programs for students and recent graduates.
Many agencies also rely on job fairs to recruit new workers. In fact, if you arrive at a fair with a resume, there's a chance you could leave with a job offer. Under direct-hire regulations, some agencies can hire applicants on the spot for a few designated occupations.
Though many agencies have special hiring and training programs for specific high-need areas (such as cyber-security), there are a few key programs that cut across agencies and offer expedited entry into the Federal government, including:
Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP)This program brings talented people into the government at the entry level for a two-year appointment. Eligibility depends on the needs of each individual agency, but these positions must include a training period. Interns enter the program at the GS-5, - 7 or -9 pay levels, with starting annual salaries of approximately $26,000, $32,000 or $39,000, respectively. After two years, successful Federal career interns can become regular civil service employees. For information about openings, contact the agencies in which you are interested directly or visit their Web sites.
Presidential Management Fellow (PMF)Designed to prepare talented people for upper-level management positions in the Federal government, this prestigious two-year program is open to any graduate student in his/her final year of study. An applicant must first be nominated by his/her school and then make it through the program's rigorous evaluation process. PMF positions are structured by each individual agency and differ widely. All include some training opportunities and a rotational assignment, either within the agency or to another agency or branch of government. In 2004, 412 PMFs were selected to work in the Federal government. The Department of Justice was the largest employer of PMFs, selecting 41. To learn more about the program visit: www.pmf.opm.gov.
Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP)The STEP, another name for a temporary internship with a Federal agency, is a great way for students to be exposed to the government. These paid positions can range in length from a summer to as long as the student is in school. It is not necessary for the work to be related to the student's academic major, which allows the student to gain experience in a variety of fields. Those enrolled in high school, a two-year or four-year college or university, a technical or vocational school or a graduate program are eligible to apply. The program requires that the student be a U.S. citizen. In 2004, 46,307 students participated in the STEP program. For more information, go to: www.opm.gov/employ/students/intro.asp.
Student Career Experience Program (SCEP)SCEP positions, for undergraduate and graduate students, are substantive internships in Federal agencies. The work must be related to the student's area of study and requires the agency to have a formal agreement with the student's institution. Most positions are paid, and students may also receive academic credit. If the student successfully completes 640 hours of work, he or she can be appointed to a permanent position without going through the traditional hiring process. This program requires its students to be U.S. citizens. In 2004, 16,746 students participated in the SCEP program. For more information, see: www.opm.gov/employ/students/intro.asp.
There are five basic steps that will help you find the Federal job that is right for you:
Once you have decided to pursue a Federal job, you should familiarize yourself with the different ways to apply and equip yourself with the tools you'll need to succeed. You should also explore the range of jobs available. Agencies are required to post the vast majority of job openings on the Federal government's central job portal, http://www.usajobs.gov/. Another key site, http://www.studentjobs.gov/, was specifically designed as a place for students to search for jobs, create a job seeker's profile and build an electronic rĂ©sumĂ©.
USAJOBS offers first-time government jobseekers a special registration area (http://www.usajobs.gov/firsttimers.asp) and it is as easy as three simple steps:
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR ACCOUNTSet-up your My USAJOBS account to:* Create & post resumes* Attract employers* Have jobs emailed to you
STEP 2: SEARCH FOR JOBSJust enter your desired job information and search the database of thousands of jobs. Use your resume to apply online instantly.
STEP 3: MANAGE YOUR CAREERGet all the information and advice you need on obtaining a job in the Government (http://www.usajobs.gov/infocenter/)
The Application Process
The application that you submit will go through many levels of review. First, human resources specialists will screen it to see if you meet the basic requirements for the position. Then, the specialists or a panel of experts will rate your application according to the additional qualifications listed on the vacancy announcement. If your application rates among the best, it will be forwarded to the hiring manager, who will choose the winning candidate.
Every agency follows its own procedures when requesting applications. Some agencies ask only for a resume tailored to the Government's requirements. Others also ask for written statements about your skills or for completed questionnaires. You might need to submit copies of academic transcripts or other materials, too.
Resumes with a Federal twist
A resume for a Federal job includes all of the information in a standard resume, plus some additional details. These resumes are often two to four pages, which is longer than the one- to two-page resumes typical in the private sector.
There are many ways to create a resume when applying for a government position. Here are some examples:
One aspect of the Federal job application process that will likely be new to you is writing the KSAs. What are KSAs (Knowledge, Skill, Ability statements)? They are the answers to a set of questions that help determine if you are a good fit for a job, based on your combined set of job-related experience.
Basically, these are the things a person should know, and be able to do, to get a particular job done. For example, an announcement for a management analyst might ask you to describe your communication skills. An announcement for an accounting technician might ask about mathematics ability or knowledge of accounting procedures.
Most, but most certainly not all, Federal job postings require applicants to deal with KSAs in one form or another.
The USAJOBS website doesn't just offer you a database of government positions. It also provides information on resumes, KSAs, interviewing tips, a glossary of Federal terms and more. See the Info Center: http://www.usajobs.gov/infocenter/
In addition, the Career One-Stop can help you. They have information about Federal job training programs, Workforce Investment Act training, apprenticeships and more. Career One-Stops can help you do a career and skills assessment to see where you are and where you need to go. They will even help direct you to money sources to pay for the training you need and they will sit down with you to help you compose the perfect resume, or you can complete the online tutorial to get it done. After that is done, they have a database of over 12 million employers to help you find the perfect job. Look for them at http://www.careeronestop.org/ or call toll-free 877-US-2JOBS.
For more information about the application process, contact the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. This office has created several publications for jobseekers. It also publishes employment regulations, job descriptions, qualifications manuals, and statistics about Federal employment. U. S. Office of Personnel Management1900 E St. NW.Washington, DC 20415-0001202-606-1800TTY: 202-606-2532http://www.opm.gov/(Employment information site: http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/)
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management also maintains websites for specific types of jobseekers:* http://www.studentjobs.gov/ - provides information about jobs for students.* http://www.opm.gov/disability/ - provides information tailored to applicants who are disabled.* http://www.opm.gov/veterans/ - provides information about how military skills relate to civilian jobs in the Federal Government and about applying for hiring preferences.
The Partnership for Public Service is another source of information. This nonprofit organization encourages college graduates to work for the Federal Government. It publishes advice for students on how to get internships and permanent jobs. Many of its resources are customized for people with specific majors. The Partnership also conducts research on Federal employment and assists career counselors and Federal recruiters. Partnership for Public Service1725 Eye St. NW., Suite 900Washington DC 20006202-775-9111http://www.ourpublicservice.org/OPS/
For current research on employment practices in the Federal Government, see the reports and newsletters of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board1615 M St. NW.Washington, DC 20419800-209-8960http://www.mspb.gov
Libraries and career centers also provide information on the Federal Government, including books about how to get Government jobs. When choosing books, look for those with recent publication dates because employment regulations can change regularly.
At the library, you also might find two publications from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Career Guide to Industries. The Handbook describes the job duties, earnings, employment prospects, and training requirements for hundreds of occupations, most of which are found in the Federal Government. The Career Guideto Industries includes information about employment in the Federal Government as a whole. It describes Federal agencies and the industry's earnings, occupations, and employment prospects. These guides are available online at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ and http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/, respectively.
Lastly, below is contact information for major exempted agencies-they are not required to list all of their openings on the USAJOBS database.
U.S. Agency for International DevelopmentRecruitment DivisionM/HR/POD/SP, 2.08, RRBWashington, DC 20523202-712-0000http://www.usaid.gov/
Central Intelligence AgencyOffice of Human Resource ManagementWashington, DC 20505Main number: (703) 482-0623Student employment programs and recruitment:800-368-3886https://www.cia.gov/
Defense Intelligence AgencyCivilian Personnel Division100 MacDill Blvd.Washington, DC 20340-5100800-526-4629http://www.dia.mil/
Federal Reserve System, Board of Governors20th St. and Constitution Ave. NW.Washington, DC 20551202-452-3038800-448-4894http://www.federalreserve.gov/
Federal Bureau of InvestigationJ. Edgar Hoover Bldg.935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.Washington, DC 20535202-324-3000http://www.fbi.gov/
Government Accountability Office441 G St. NW.Washington, DC 20548202-512-6092http://www.gao.gov/
National Security AgencyCollege Relations BranchFort Meade, MD 20755866-672-4473http://www.nsa.gov/
Tennessee Valley AuthorityKnoxville Office Complex400 West Summit Hill DriveKnoxville, TN 37902865-632-2101http://www.tva.gov/
U.S. Department of StateHuman Resources2401 E St. NW, Suite 518 HWashington, DC 20522202-261-8888http://www.state.gov/
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory CommissionDivision of Human Resources and EmploymentProgram BranchWashington, DC 20555301-415-7400http://www.nrc.gov/
U.S. Postal ServiceContact local branch.http://www.usps.com/employment/
U.S. Federal CourtsAdministrative Office of the U.S. CourtsWashington, DC 20544202-502-3800http://www.uscourts.gov/
Legislative branchLibrary of Congress Employment Office101 Independence Ave. SE.Washington, DC 20540202-707-5627http://www.loc.gov
U.S. House of RepresentativesChief Administrative OfficerHuman Resources DivisionB72 Ford House Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20515U.S. House of Representatives (all other offices)B227 Longworth House Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20515202-226-4504http://www.house.gov/
U.S. SenateSenate Placement OfficeSenate Hart Bldg., Room 142Washington, DC 20510202-224-9167http://www.senate.gov/
Local addresses and telephone numbers are listed in the blue pages of the telephone book.