How to Get a U.S. Government Job
By Stephen Bucaro
The advantage of searching for a government job is that when the economy is slow and
the private sector is down-sizing, in order to stop the unemployment rate from increasing too
rapidly, the federal government starts hiring. In the past applying for a government job was
difficult because you had to deal with lots of bureaucracy. But today applying for a job at
a federal agency is similar to applying for a job in private industry. But today, you contact
a federal agency directly for job information and each agency does its own hiring.
Although each federal agency does their own hiring, you don't need to go searching for
each agency, the U.S. government still maintains a central job site,
USAJOBS, At any given time, there are
approximately 20,000 positions posted on the site. Here you can search for a job and you can
find loads of useful information.
A good place to start is at the site's
Site Map where you'll find
tutorials, including how to create and submit a resume. You'll need to create an account
where you can save your searches, your resume and other documents.
There are two types of U.S. government jobs, most positions are part of the competitive
civil service. To obtain a a job, you must compete with other applicants in open competition.
These are the types of jobs you find on the USAJOBS
website. The other type of jobs are excepted service agency jobs. These are jobs in agencies
that have their own hiring system and are not included in the competitive civil service listings.
Some agencies have some jobs in the competitive civil service listings, and some excepted
service positions. Some agencies, such as the FBI and the CIA have only excepted service positions.
To locate excepted service positions look at individual agency Web sites. This is a good place
to look if you are a veteran because they are subject to veterans preference. You'll find a
partial list of excepted service agencies
Who is Eligible for a U.S. Government Job
When a vacancy is listed as open to "all sources", it means any U.S. citizen may apply.
In rare cases when there are no qualified U.S. citizens available, agencies may hire non-citizens,
unless that is prohibited by statute. Individuals who are current or former Federal employees
have a higher status for consideration.
When hiring, agencies may give special consideration to people with disabilities. If you're
a veteran, you'll also receive special consideration, and a disabled veterans with a service-connected
disability usually goes to the top of the list. However, if you're not in a group that gets
special consideration, don't give up because qualifications and experience is still required.
How Long Until I Know if I'm Under Consideration?
Agencies have a 45-day goal for notifying applicants of either non-selection or to schedule
an interview. But the 45-day goal is not legally binding and the time to notification may vary.
You should try to maintain contact with the hiring department of the agency so you can obtain
information about the status of your application.
Advantages of a U.S. Government Job
As the U.S. population keeps growing, more federal workers will be needed to provide
government services. It's possible for layoffs to happen in Federal service, but they're very
rare. A Federal job is the secure job for these insecure times. And, by law, Federal salaries
are based on a comparison with jobs in the private sector.
The Federal Government offers a wide variety of options for health insurance. You can
choose from 15 fee for service plans or from over 300 HMOs. The Government pays a large percentage
of the cost and you pay the rest. And all Federal employees covered under the Federal Employees
Retirement System and Social Security and are eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan which is
similar to 401k.