Federal Government Job Articles and News

Articles and News

Check here for updates and information affecting federal and other employment issues.

Six Tips For Getting Into the Senior Executive Service

There is one question that federal managers consistently ask me: "How do I become an SES?"

Created by Congress in 1978, the Senior Executive Service (SES) is a 7,000-member elite cadre of federal leaders who are performing cutting-edge work and delivering vital services, from protecting the homeland to revitalizing our economy.

If you are striving to become a member of this elite corps, start by examining the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). The five ECQs—leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions—are designed to assess your executive experience and potential.

The ECQs are a great roadmap for your leadership development; however, to enhance your qualifications, it's important that you also gain broad experience and training. The SES federal employees with whom I interact all have had very diverse leadership experiences and training, which have enabled them to develop into the leaders that they are today.

To help you on your path to the SES, I consulted with agency colleagues who have served in the SES for some insider advice. Here are their tips on how federal leaders can become senior government executives:

1. Do your homework. Take time to understand the ECQs and to honestly evaluate yourself relative to them. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the agencies' Executive Resources Boards (ERBs) and Qualifications Review Boards (QRBs), which are keys to the SES recruitment and selection process. Yes, it's an alphabet soup, but they're the rules of the game.
2. Let your agency know you're interested. Don't assume that your senior executives can read your mind. Express your interest in the SES and have a conversation around what it will take for you to become an executive.
3. Get moving. Leaders chart their own course. To demonstrate the ECQs, you'll need a broad base of experience and a strong network. Leadership development programs can help you, too. If your supervisor wants to reward you for a job well done, instead of a small bonus, consider asking for an opportunity to attend a management development program. Become active in a professional association, volunteer for an interagency taskforce, and continually read leadership books and articles to help develop your strengths and identify your weaknesses.
4. Set personal-growth stretch goals, and meet them. For example, write and submit an article or an op-ed for a professional journal, volunteer to speak at a conference, or suggest a new agency project—then volunteer to lead or implement the effort
5. Find mentors. Seek out successful agency leaders that you respect to find out what has helped them become successful and, especially, how they overcame adversity.
6. Know when it's time to move on. While you might be able to stay in one organization for most of your career and rise to the top, senior leaders are increasingly seeking people with experience in multiple organizations and work environments when filling their senior positions. To advance, you may need to move out of your comfort zone.

Finally, this last piece of advice is perhaps the best:: Become the best at what you do and then don't stop there.

Senior executives, how did you make it into the SES? What advice and tips do you have for federal managers interested in the process? Please let me know by either posting your comments online or sending an e-mail to fedcoach@ourpublicservice.org.

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How Federal Jobs are Filled

By Barbara Adams, CPRW, CEIP, CMRC, CFRW

The federal government is the nation's single largest employer, with more than 35,000 vacancies listed on its official website, www.USAJobs.gov, per day. However, many people who attempt to gain employment with the federal government often find the process to not only be intimidating, but also frustrating.

While many agencies within the government fill their vacancies much in the same way as private companies, there are some very notable differences. One of the biggest sources of confusion to the job seeker exploring federal employment for the first time is understanding the types of vacancies and the eligibility criteria for each.

Unlike the private sector, where a candidate submits a resume and cover letter for a vacancy for which a candidate believes he/she possesses the qualifications, the federal government operates a little differently.

To begin with, there are three categories of federal jobs within the executive branch. Each category has its own unique set of criteria for eligibility, including, but not limited to, specific education levels, security clearances, professional certifications and licenses, and, in some limited cases (such as FBI special agent positions), age and physical condition mandates.

The Three Categories of Federal Jobs

Competitive Service - This covers jobs that fall solely under the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) jurisdiction and that are subject to the Civil Service laws passed by Congress to ensure applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. Candidates are chosen from an applicant pool based on their qualifications and how closely they meet the desired competencies stated in the vacancy announcement. Competitive Service jobs cover the majority of federal employment opportunities. The objective is to identify the best-qualified candidates for the vacancy. Applicants typically consist of persons from the private sector, the federal employment ranks, and former military service personnel who are attempting to transition to post-military employment.

Excepted Service - Excepted Service positions are excepted by law because the agencies offering these types of positions have direct ties to national security and/or intelligence functions. Examples of positions that fall under Excepted Service include attorneys, chaplains, and medical doctors, because for these types of jobs, it is difficult to use standard qualification requirements such as what's used in competitive jobs to rate applicants. Examples of agencies that fill the bulk of their vacancies via Excepted Service include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of State, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While civilian, transitioning military, and existing government professionals are invited to apply for these positions, they need to be aware that these jobs are usually filled under a special circumstance, such as part-time or temporary positions in remote locations or when there is a critical hiring need. Also, since these jobs are directly tied to national security, candidates will typically need to pass a government security screening, a physical fitness test, and other special criteria depending on the position. Excepted Service positions are not required by law to be posted on USAJobs.gov. Candidates who are interested in these types of position should consult the official websites of the agencies that offer this type of employment opportunity.

Senior Executive Service (SES) - The SES was established by Title IV of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and focuses on top management positions within the federal government (those at a GS-15 or higher). These professionals are the equivalent of Directors, Vice Presidents, and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of medium- to large-scale companies in the private sector. They are the people who are given the challenges associated with leading the continuing transformation of the federal government. Unlike the Competitive and Excepted Service jobs, SES positions are not graded; instead, salary is linked to individual performance. Members of the SES are not eligible for locality pay. There are two ways in which a candidate may apply for SES positions. The first is to apply directly to a federal agency offering an SES vacancy. The second is to apply to the federal agency's SES Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) to gain the eligibility necessary for a career appointment to an SES position without further competition.

Competitive Service Jobs: Who's Eligible for Employment

The basic criterion for Competitive Service jobs is United States (U.S.) citizenship. A candidate will submit an application packet consisting of a federal resume (which varies from a civilian resume), and other documentation such as a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) statements, formal education transcripts, DD-214s, and others. Eligible candidates are then grouped into three categories:

1. Candidates who have applied and met the qualification requirements for a specific vacancy announcement. This is the most common method of entry for candidates who are new to the federal hiring process.

2. Candidates who have Civil Service status. These candidates, already employed by the federal government, are eligible for non-competitive movement within the Competitive Service. When these candidates are chosen for positions, it's usually the result of a merit promotion, reassignment, transfer, or reinstatement.

3. Candidates that qualify for a special non-competitive appointing authority established by law or executive order. This category includes military veterans who are eligible for Veterans’ Preference points, or members of the Peace Corps.

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The Cost of Being Unemployed

If you are unemployed, it is critical for you to understand how much salary you are actually losing by being unemployed.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS), the unemployment rate is currently above 10%. This represents more than 15 million people, the highest national rate since April 1983. Of those who are unemployed, more than 35% have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The BLS states the average duration for a job search is 28.1+ weeks.

This means if you were earning $70,000 and it took you 28 weeks (140 business days) to find a new job, you lost $37,660 by being unemployed!

Professional career assistance can help to reduce the averages above. Trimming just a week or two off your job search can save you a significant amount of money, whether in savings or in lost income. In most cases, the cost of professional services can be less than one week's lost salary.

Please refer to the chart to see how you are affected.

Salary/Loss of Gross Pay Calculations

SalaryWeekly Pay Loss


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Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Positions - Great Opportunity

By Barbara A. Adams, CPRW, CEIP, CFRW, MMRW

Among Federal jobs, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) position is one of the most highly sought after jobs by attorneys in the private sector and Federal service alike.  The reason is that ALJs are paid on a scale comparable to Senior Executive Service (SES) but they are allowed to work with complete decisional independence.  An ALJ has no supervisor and is not required to supervise any employees. The only judges seated by a merit-based selection process, ALJ appointments are made from scores achieved in a comprehensive testing procedure that includes submission of a lengthy Accomplishment Record, a four-hour Written Demonstration and an oral Structured Interview before a three-person panel. 

The federal government is growing the cadre of ALJs because of the increasing needs of agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  A strong candidate is one that has experience as a trial attorney or litigator, in private practice, military service or the Federal sector, and significant knowledge of Administrative Law.  Applicants are not required to have prior judiciary experience or any political connections.  Veterans are awarded their preference points. See the ALJ pay scale here: http://www.opm.gov/oca/11tables/html/alj_loc.asp

How to Apply for ALJ positions
A Federal ALJ application includes the Accomplishment Record (six narratives based on ALJ competencies), a Federal resume (usually about 5-7 pages long) and two additional narratives detailing the candidate’s Administrative Law and Litigation experience.  The Administrative Law Judge application process is managed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for all of the 30 agencies that employ them.  Candidates can only apply during the brief and infrequent open period which typically occurs about once every 12-14 months.  The application is completed online and must be submitted by midnight of the date when a designated number (this has varied from 600 to 1200) of applications is received.  During the 2009 exam, the open period lasted less than 40 hours, and more than 1200 attorneys applied.  Advance planning for the Accomplishment Record is critical.

To be competitive, your application materials must be completed before the exam opens. Your Accomplishment Record must rate high in order to be invited to the Written Demonstration and the Structured Interview, making it a vital component of the examination—of greater magnitude than the resume itself.  One potential pitfall with the application writing is that many candidates do not know which key words to use, or how to best showcase their relevant accomplishments.   The Accomplishment Record is rated by Human Resources professionals, not fellow attorneys or sitting ALJs.  The use of legal jargon and complicated language can hurt your application.  Plain language that can be understood by a lay person or professional alike is proven to yield good results. The six competencies assessed in the Accomplishment Record have not changed over the past three examination periods and they remain a good point of preparation for potential candidates. If the proper key words for the ALJ position are used in the writing, even if the rated competencies vary in the future, the narratives will be relevant and can easily fit into new categories.  

Our team has some of the most experienced ALJ application writers in the country, who understand the complex selection process as well as the writing requirements.  We have the expertise to develop your comprehensive Federal ALJ application package so that you can be ready for the next ALJ examination.

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Federal Hiring Frenzy

The federal government continues to hire at a torrid pace according to a recent study by Aon Consulting and Monster Government Solutions. Why? To replace the baby boomers that are beginning to retire en masse, to fill the ever-increasing need for qualified national security workers and professionals, and for employment consideration for our veterans.

Of the 600,000 new hires anticipated between now and the end of 2012, nearly half will be considered mission-critical. The total figure to be hired represents about one-third of the overall federal workforce; in other words, there is a huge turnover of talent in progress right now and you could be part of it. It sounds like a lot of hiring and possibly smacks of wasteful government spending, but in historical terms, even with all the new hiring, the federal workforce at the end of 2012 will actually be smaller than what it was in 1967, according to Max Stier, Executive Director of the Partnership for Public Service, from the article in govcentral.monster.com.

Among the biggest growth agencies is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where more than 65,000 openings are forecasted. Another large opportunity will be found with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where more than 48,000 jobs will be filled to support a huge increase in the administration of benefits. Anyone having recently dealt with the VA for benefit services can attest to this need. The study shows other large growth areas, including more than 54,000 positions in medical and public health agencies, 52,000 jobs in security and protective services, 31,000 openings in compliance and enforcement, 23,000 opportunities in legal areas, and 17,000 positions in administration and program management.

Hot Jobs

The hottest professions are for attorneys, paralegals, Human Resources (HR) professionals (many mission-critical roles), biological and science experts, border patrol agents, customs officers, food inspectors, compliance staff, tax examiners, accountants, auditors, and engineers. In fact, there are about 2,000 total job types open at any given time. A quick search on www.USAJobs.gov will reveal some 30,000 current openings, and it's a simple process to locate job types or locations with the robust search tools provided. Lucrative opportunities are found in the Senior Executive Service (SES), the highest career level of government, where savvy leaders bring talent and vision to positions reporting to cabinet-level organizations. In addition, retiring or separating military members often search out second careers in the federal government to take advantage of their excellent training and, in almost all cases, their Veterans’ Preference in the hiring process.

Hot Locations

More than 85% of federal jobs are located outside of Washington, D.C. The states with the highest number of federal employees are: California, Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, and Ohio. Many jobs also feature overseas locations for those seeking a change of scenery or perhaps a bit more excitement in their career.

Huge Interest

With the repressed economy, competition for federal jobs is at an all-time high, meaning that the federal government has a unique chance to hire some of the best talent available at a time when the country needs supremely qualified workers and professionals to steer agencies through tough times. That should not discourage anyone from applying, however. It does take time and patience to properly apply for federal jobs, and most agencies are very methodical about their hiring process; translation: It could take months to hear back on an application and the overall hiring process may seem maddeningly slow, but to their credit, most agencies are exceedingly thorough and overtly fair in their evaluations and hiring. If you are a worthy candidate and you properly apply for a vacancy, you stand an excellent chance of being considered for the position.

Hidden Value

Some federal government jobs offer recruitment bonuses to attract the best of the best, with figures of $10,000 to $60,000 not unheard of, as well as repayment of student loans. In most cases, a commitment of several years' service will be required to secure the bonus or repayment.

Not Rocket Science

Although NASA may actually need rocket scientists, you don't have to be one in order to get the attention of hiring managers. Above all—and not surprisingly—the ability to speak and write clearly and effectively is consistently in demand. The "new" federal government is looking for visionary leadership, strength of character, and initiative. When applying for a position, these traits must be baked into your application.

Yes, But.

There's always a “but,” isn't there? The "but" in this case is that applying for a federal job, even for entry-level positions, can seem overly complicated. There are several different application formats and methods depending on the hiring agency, and they all have different requirements for content, text character size, and composition. Many require extensive narrative responses to experience and skill questions. All are screened by computer software that searches for keywords and skills, and your application must be geared to both pass the computer screening and be supremely readable and compelling for the hiring or HR manager. Failing to meet the basic requirements for size, structure, and extras (DD-214, college transcripts, etc.) automatically gives your application “the boot.” No bending of the rules; no give and take. It's strict, but as we said before, the process is eminently and ultimately fair.

Where to turn

Many potential applicants choose to employ the professional services of seasoned resume writers with significant experience creating successful federal government resumes and applications. For a modest investment—in many cases, less than the amount of one paycheck over a long and fruitful government career—a truly qualified resume service pays for itself many times over. Many try on their own, and have ultimately sought the resources and insight offered by companies such as CareerPro Global and its team of certified writers. With an ISO 9000:2008 design process, in business since 1986, CareerPro stands alone among the nation's best resume-writing companies, and is ready to help with your federal government resume or military transition resume project.

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The big lifestyle adjustment

By, Barbara Adams, CPRW, CEIP, MMRW, CFRW

www.militaryresumewriters.com and www.careerproplus.com

Finally I Get to Go Home…Maybe

After 20 or more years of service life—including numerous duty stations at different locations around the country and around the world—you may be eager to settle back in your hometown and start a new career. Even if you’ve done just one tour, you’ve been gone a while. The problem is that things have changed back home, and so have you. Even if you’ve returned from time to time or have even been stationed nearby, it’s not going to be the same place you left. Chances are the job you seek or area of work you are most suited for may not align with what’s currently available. You may be able to find something suitable, but more than likely you won’t. Try not to force the issue of insisting on relocating to your hometown only to face difficulty in your career path.

Home Is Where the Job Is


In other words, be prepared to relocate wherever your next career leads you. Many military members have excellent logistics experience, and land lucrative careers with large companies in which employers view discipline, leadership, and troubleshooting as prized attributes. Large distribution facilities, warehouse operations, and logistics companies are located around the country. There may even be one near your hometown. Other career paths offer similar situations. Technology is a very robust job area for military folks, and many superior companies are looking for your expertise. They may be located in parts of the country that you hadn’t even considered. Many military members elect to pursue federal employment, taking advantage of their credit for years of service, military preference in applying, and security clearance status, which can be a real door-opener. Many of these jobs are located near Washington, D.C., but there are thousands of opportunities nationwide and worldwide.

Focus on the job you want, find the ideal company or agency, and then decide if it’s a place you’d care to live for a while. You are now in control for a change. Make the most of this opportunity for career, lifestyle, and location options.

Lighten Up, Francis

While adjusting to civilian life, you need to adjust your attitude toward rank and position. It’s no longer necessary (and it can be awkward) to address everyone as “Sir” and “Ma’am.” At the same time, if you are accustomed to people saluting you, standing at attention in your presence, and all the associated etiquette, you need to put that aside, as well. Keep the respectful attitude, but ditch the military protocol, being sensitive to the prevailing corporate culture. Also, be prepared to have to justify your decisions as never before. Not only your superiors but also your subordinates will want to understand your decisions, and know your justification for them. While there will still be situations in which “an order is an order,” especially in emergency or life-threatening situations, be prepared to accommodate need-to-know and like-to-know situations, and react to each appropriately.

You Are What You Wear


Prepare for your new wardrobe, as well. Don’t overdress for your job (and make everyone else look bad). You want to consider the phrase, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” That may mean a long-sleeve, button-down shirt when your peers are in short sleeves. It may mean a more business-like tie if shirt and tie is the dress code. For women, it can be more meaningful to observe the culture and attire of the peer group and the promotion-level group, and act accordingly in dress and demeanor. Dress well, but don’t go overboard. In the military, it’s easy: Put on the uniform of the day, and keep an eye out for stripes, bars, and stars. In civilian life, it’s more subtle. You can hardly ever go wrong dressing up a bit more than the group, but you can definitely go wrong by outdoing your boss on one hand or being too casual on the other. Keep your eyes open; look and act like you belong. Continue to be the reliable, respectful leader you’ve always been, and you’ll do just fine.


Barbara Adams, President and CEO of CareerPro Global (CPG), the parent company of www.careerproplus.com and www.militaryresumewriters.com, has been a member of the careers community for the past 20 years. Ms. Adams holds four prestigious industry certifications. CareerPro Global is the only ISO 9001:2008 Certified Career Service in the industry, as well as one of the fastest-growing Military, Federal, and Civilian Resume-Writing and Careers-Coaching companies. The team of Certified Professional Federal and Military Resume Writers at CPG assist thousands of clients in applying for and gaining employment each year. We can help you land your military to civilian job.


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big hiring in the federal government

Right now is an excellent time to consider applying for a federal job position. Why? The government is going on a serious hiring binge, planning to add more than 270,000 workers in mission-critical roles over the next three years. Hiring in these fields will jump 40% in 2010 through 2012 compared to the three previous years. The majority of the hiring in these federal positions will be in professional categories, including physicians and medical staff, security and protective services, compliance and legal services, and program management. Of the 35 agencies involved, a concentration of hiring will be found in Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Defense Department.

Leading the way in numbers of projected positions is the medical and public health occupations followed by security and protection and compliance and enforcement. These three categories alone account for half of the projected 270,000 positions up for grabs. Much of the demand is being caused by large numbers of retiring baby boomers along with Obama administration initiatives. If you are thinking of a career in Federal Service, remember that you will be well compensated and given the opportunity to grow in your field. Opportunities abound for careers in the federal government. The time to act is now.

For more information, go to data.wherethejobsare.org/wtja/home.

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how to find and apply for federal jobs

With the advent of the Internet, it is now easy to find job openings within the federal government. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a website, USAJobs, which allows potential applicants to search most positions being posted for civilian employees. Go to www.USAJobs.opm.gov. The search is very detailed in criteria, and is much easier to use than in the past. Positions from most federal agencies may be found using this system.
If you decide to apply for a federal job, there are several steps that must follow to achieve success. These steps include:

  1. Find the positions to apply for
  2. Identify the requirements for applying for each job. Match background and skills to the job requirements
  3. Develop the application materials
  4. Submit the application

Finding Positions to Apply For:

With the advent of the Internet, it is now easy to find job openings in the federal government. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a website, www.USAJobs.gov, which allows potential applicants to search most positions being posted for civilian employees. If a user selects and enters in the appropriate search criteria—including job titles, job series, grade levels, agencies, special appointment status, and position locations—one can find all the positions open that can be applied for. The search is very detailed in criteria, and is much easier to use then in the past. Positions from most federal agencies are available using this system.

Identifying Job and Application Requirements (How to Read Job Announcements):

Once a job announcement is found you can than read the job announcement to determine the application requirements.

  1. The announcement will indicate who may apply. If it is the Public, generally all U.S. citizens can apply for the job. If it is Status Candidates Only, one must read the announcement carefully to determine who is eligible. Generally, in this case, federal government employees, military spouses, or veterans who have separated in the past three years or who are eligible for Veterans’ Preference points may be considered a Status Candidate. If it says Agency Employees Only and the applicant is not currently employed as a civil servant in that agency, the applicant is not eligible to apply.
  1. The announcement will indicate the date the announcement closes. Application materials must be submitted according the instructions in the announcement by the closing date (and sometimes closing time). The announcement will detail how to submit materials; it is announcement specific. Depending on the announcement, an applicant may be required to file online, by fax, by e-mail, by hand delivery, or by mail.
  1. The position will indicate salary and grade level. Grade levels for jobs indicate the management level within the government, and the level of responsibility. Based on experience, veterans retiring at the E-7 level generally qualify for positions at the GS-9 level. O-3 professionals generally qualify at the GS-11 or 12 levels, depending on area of expertise.
  1. The announcement will list the job duties in most cases. A potential applicant should read the duties carefully; they contain the keywords required for the job. In general, the resumes selected for further consideration contain these keywords, with dynamic statements showing how the applicant has experience doing the duties required for the job. When one reads an announcement, they should ask themselves whether they have done that particular function previously AND if they have any demonstrated success in doing the function.
  1. The announcement will list the background requirements. For Federal jobs, unlike Civilian jobs, an applicant's background MUST match the stated requirements for the job. For example, if a degree is stated as required, it is required. If certification, including Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) contracting certification, is stated as a requirement, it is required. If no candidates apply that meet the requirements, the agency will cancel the announcement and rewrite and repost the position.
  1. The announcement may indicate if KSAs or other essays, including Selective Preference Factors, Technical Qualifications, or Professional Qualifications are required. In addition, the announcement may indicate that multiple-choice questions also will need to be answered. Please note if the announcement is for some online formats, including QuickHire or USAJobs, the KSAs or other questions will not be in the actual announcement. Instead, they are found during the application process. In order to find the vacancy questions, an applicant may need to start the application just to find the KSA or other questions. For AVUE announcements, not all KSAs are asked at all levels, and again, an application needs to be started just to find out the required KSAs. Generally, but not always, the resumix formats do not require separate KSAs.
  1. The announcement will indicate how to apply. If the announcement indicates a resume or OF-612 is acceptable for application, a paper resume will need to be developed. If an online format is required, generally a link or an "Apply Online" button is shown on the announcement. Clicking on the link or button will bring the user to the agency's website with further instructions on how to apply for the job. There are many different online formats, including USAJobs (used by more than 100 federal agencies); others use a paper resume), Army Resumix, Navy Resumix, AVUE, QuickHire, and others. It is complicated, and the requirements for these formats change regularly. Each online resume version has specific length and informational requirements.
  1. The announcement may indicate other documentation is required. Carefully read each announcement and send the information required. If it is not asked for, do not send it.

Develop Application Materials:

Once an applicant determines the application requirements, the application materials must be developed. Federal resumes must conform to specific informational requirements. They must include ALL the information required, or the application may be discarded. Based on the announcement and application format, a federal resume generally includes the following information.

Job Information:

  • Announcement number, title, and grade(s) of position being applied for
  • Personal Information: name, mailing address (with zip code)
  • Home, cell, and work phone numbers (with area code)
  • E-mail address
  • Social Security Number
  • Country of citizenship (most federal jobs require U.S. citizenship)
  • Veterans’ Preference
  • Highest federal civilian grade held (give job series and dates held)
  • Professional summary, written in third person
  • Job title (include series and grade if federal job; level in military if a veteran)
  • Employer's name and full address, including street address, city, state, and zip code
  • Supervisor's name and phone number
  • Starting and ending dates (month and year) [note: some formats require month, date, and year]
  • Hours per week
  • Salary
  • Indicate if current supervisor may be contacted
  • Job duties: include quantification and keywords in the announcement, written in third person
  • Job accomplishments—include quantification—in the Challenge-Context-Action-Result (CCAR) format, written in third person


For colleges and universities:

  • Name, city, state, and zip code
  • Major(s), type and year of any degrees received
  • GPA
  • Total credits and types of credits earned (quarter, credit, or semester hours)
  • Honors
  • Course list
  • Note: only list accredited colleges listed at www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.asp. If an applicant lists degrees from schools not on the accreditation list, they may be subject for disqualification from federal employment and in some states also subject to criminal prosecution.

For high school:

  • Date of diploma or GED, high school name, city, state, and zip code

Other Qualifications:

  • Job-related training courses, including course title, date (may be year or month and year), course duration (hours, days, or months)
  • Certifications and licenses (include Secret or Top Secret clearance here)
  • Job-related skills; for example, other languages, computer software/hardware, tools, machinery, typing speed
  • Job-related honors, awards, and special accomplishments; for example, publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards

The exact format of the resume, as noted above, will differ, depending on the application requirements. However, much, if not all, of the information above is required for developing a federal resume.

For some applications, including written applications, a cover letter can help summarize an applicant's background and experience for the hiring authority.

The federal government has thousands of jobs posted on its www.USAJobs.opm.gov website every day. If you find a position that you wish to apply for and you want to earn a "Best Qualified" ranking on your application, there are Certified Professional Resume Writers who can assist you and have an abundance of expertise to assist in the development and posting of your application.

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top occupations in demand

Reported by USAJobs Website

One of the keys to landing your perfect job is staying up-to-date on the latest federal hiring trends and we're here to help. Updated weekly, this page lists the top 50 federal occupations with the most openings in the last calendar month.

Simply click on an occupation title to see a list of current job announcements.

Administration & Program
Office Clerk / Assistant
Information Technology
Contract Specialist
Management and Program Analyst
Human Resources Specialis
Engineer, General
Business and Industry Specialist
Training and Education
Health Aid / Technician
Human Resources Assistant
Health System Specialist
Training Instructor
Security Administrator
Maintenance Mechanic
Educational and Training
Engineer, Environmental
Fire Protection and Prevention
Medical Technician
Social Science Specialist
Medical Records Technician
Physical Scientist, Generalist
Engineering Technician
Engineer, Civil
Police Officer / Federal
Financial Administrator
Inspector, Investigation
Recreation Aid / Assistantant
Telecommunications Specialist
Recreation Specialist
Budget Analyst
Logistics Management Specialist
Office Automation Clerk
Medical Support Assistant
Security Clerk / Assistanant
Payroll Clerk, Military
Engineer, Mechanical
Biological and Natural Resources
Purchasing Agent
Safety & Occupational Health
Medical Officer
Public Affairs Specialist
Compliance Inspection
Operations Research Analyst
Pharmacy Technician
Air Traffic Controller
Management and Program Clerk

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top locations hiring

One of the keys to landing your perfect job is staying up-to-date on the latest federal hiring trends and we're here to help. Updated weekly, this page lists the top 50 USAJobs locations with the most job openings in the last calendar month.

Simply click on the location name to see a full list of current open job announcements.

DC - Washington DC
GA - Atlanta
TX - San Antonio
VA - Alexandria, Arlington & Falls Church
VA - Northern Virginia
NY - New York City
TX - Dallas-Ft Worth Metro area
MD - Montgomery County
PA - Philadelphia Metro area
IL - Chicago Metro area
MD - Prince George County
MD - Baltimore Metro area
VA - Fairfax, Ft Belvoir, Manassas
TX - Dallas
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FL - Tampa
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CA - San Diego County
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TX - Houston
GA - Decatur

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valuable security clearance

When you were issued a security clearance for your military job specialty, you were given a passport to future job positions. Both civilian and federal employers are currently in great need of people with various levels of security clearances for a wide variety of jobs. As you seek to make the transition from military to civilian, you certainly want to consider this rich field of hot jobs.

The type of federal jobs that are available are indeed many and varied. These openings start from government jobs in Homeland Security and extend to the CIA, DIA, NSA, DoD, and other agencies. The types of jobs that these agencies are looking for includes linguists, network administrators, intelligence analysts, intrusion analysts, and many more. This certainly means that there is probably room for someone with your clearance in a federal job.

In addition to the line of federal jobs, there is also a whole world of civilian jobs that could use your expertise along with your security clearance. This would include defense contractors, companies, and agencies that need facilities protection and security, medical records, software engineering firms, and many more. Jobs include needs for engineers, biometrics, security, records, IT, intelligence analysts, network administrators, and more.

Your security clearance is valuable to you. One good reason is that with it, you can get a job with an automatic increase of a minimum of $5,000 per year. This amount may go all the way up to about $15,000, just for having the clearance. Of course, clearances do quickly expire, but the employer requiring them will take steps to see that they stay effective, if you apply within about 24 months.

Corporations and government agencies know that in order to give a Top Secret clearance to someone who does not have one, it takes a long time, and it is costly. In fact, it could take up to a year to go through the whole background investigation process. This is partly because of a backlog of about half a million people who are waiting in line for their approval. If someone already had one, however, he/she could move swiftly into the position. The amount of money that the company would save would also be tremendously appreciated if the company did not need to go through the long and tedious process of investigating someone's background.

Clearances that have already expired can also be renewed. If the process begins within 24 months, then only a part of the process is needed to reestablish a security clearance, depending on the level. This means that if you have already made a military transition back into civilian life, then your clearance can still make you a sought-after candidate for a classified federal job or a civilian job.

One thing that you will need to do as you look for a job requiring a security clearance is to prepare a military resume. This needs to be professionally done by a resume writer in order to highlight your training, experience, and qualifications. Keywords related to the job position will also be built in giving you a resume that will stand out among other candidates. A professional military resume writer knows what your prospective employer is looking for and can make you look good right away.

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applying to the senior executive service

When you see that opening in the Senior Executive Service (SES), and you see a door that might be open for you, you will need to have your SES resume package ready. A special federal resume, called an SES resume, could be your ticket to become one of the leaders in this elite group at the top of the government agencies, right below the Presidential appointees. Here is what you need to do to get your SES resume package ready so you will not miss your chance.
You first will need to have at least 10 years of government service. After that, you need to have at least a rank of GS-13. These things, however, are only just the beginning. The rest will need to be on your SES resume.

The standard parts of your federal resume for the SES position are pretty much the same for a regular government job. After that, though, there is quite a difference. Instead of having KSAs, you will need to fill out five ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications). ECQs are longer than KSAs; you will need to provide one to one-and-a-half pages of material covering each of five issues.

Each of the ECQs cover a slightly different area seeking to have you demonstrate your abilities as a manager/leader. The five areas, which are dictated by the government, are:

  1. Leading Change;
  2. Leading People;
  3. Results Driven;
  4. Business Acumen; and
  5. Building Coalitions/Communications

Under each section, you will provide not only your philosophy, but also examples that demonstrate your leadership abilities and how you handled various situations that presented themselves to you during your experiences as a leader. These will need to clearly show what you did, and why you did it, and the results obtained during a particular need or problem you faced.

In addition to the ECQs, though, you will most likely need to fill out some Managerial and Technical Qualification Statements. These are the same length as the ECQs, and will need to follow the same model as them, too. The four areas are the challenge, the context, the action taken, and the result(s) of your actions.

Like any other resume, you also need a cover sheet. This little piece of paper is what makes those who have the final decision to want to read all those other pages. It all has to be equally good—from the first statement to the last—and make you look like the only one who is really qualified.

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other resources

Federal Jobs Career Center - www.federaljobs.net A popular site for exploring careers and finding job vacancies.

The Book of U.S. Government Jobs - Understand what it takes to go from job hunter to hired employee, and everything in between to improve your chances of landing a high-paying government job.

Post Office Jobs Career Center - www.postofficejobs.info This site will assist you with your job search and help you locate and study for exams.

Post Office Jobs - Explore and find jobs, prepare for the 473 Postal Exam, and local ALL job opportunities.

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