One of the appreciable aspects of the federal government is that they employee people from virtually every profession. It is the nation’s largest employer with 4.3 million employees by the end of 2012, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Salaries are competitive with those in the private sector and job security is better. However, recruitment is strict and very structured. You, therefore, require an informed plan to get a job with the federal government.
Decide what You Want
Although the federal government is a huge entity, it comprises hundreds of departments and agencies. They each have their professional requirements, culture and mission. Take the time to identify your passion and understand the various positions available to employees. Shortlist those that match your expertise, interests and experience, and study their requirements. The federal jobs portal USAjobs.gov is a good place to learn about current openings and federal agencies. You can narrow your search by focusing on a particular location or type of profession.
Utilize Your Networks
Use your family, friend and colleagues to gain a competitive advantage in your search. They might be in a position to know when a position arises and notify you early enough before applications are closed. Networking channels such as LinkedIn can help you network with people who work in the department you desire to work for. Such people can give you more insights into a position, the interview process and what they expect from applicants. Be sure to talk to our college’s career department to find out if they have any arrangements with government recruiters.
Customize Your Resume
Government-speak can be very different from that in the rest of the labor market. The government uses different terminologies from those employed by the private sector. Learn phrases and keywords used in federal job postings and incorporate them into your portfolio and resume. Resources such as gogovernment.org explain in detail how to custom-write a resume for a government job.
Work with an Agency
Most positions require you to go through USAjobs to apply. However, some posts are exempt from this rule and allow for direct hiring. Work with an experienced agency to ensure they update you about available positions on time. An employment agency can also help you work out a plan to get into a federal position. Most agencies will also post federal opportunities on their job boards. Be sure to visit as many as you can.
Start with a short-term job and work your way up. There are often term appointments in government offices where you can be paid to do a particular short-term project. You can also apply for volunteering opportunities. The Peace Corps, for example, often recruit volunteers to work in agricultural, youth development, environmental or educational projects, among other assignments. People in the IT field can apply for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program for a yearlong voluntary shift.
Acquaint yourself with the federal jobs landscape before settling on which positions to pursue. While the government has new openings now and then, the recruitment process is long due to bureaucracy. You, therefore, will need patience and professional follow-up skills.