Careers with the Federal Government The Federal Government must hire tens of thousands of new workers to fill mission-critical jobs based on a survey of 35 federal agencies representing 99% of the federal workforce (Where the Jobs are, 2009 / Partnership for Public Service September 2009.) Learn more by viewing the Finding and Applying for Jobs in the Federal Government video. The Federal Government is by far the largest employer in the United States. A large percentage of these government employees are members of the military, but there are also millions of civilian federal employees. Federal Employees are stationed in all parts of the United States and in many foreign countries. There are a number of federal jobs in the state of Colorado, predominately at the Federal Center in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, as well as other locations throughout the state. Over 500,000 people work for the Federal government in the Rocky Mountain Region. Regardless of your major, skills, or interests, there is a federal job that is a good fit for you. There are jobs in computer systems, accounting, health service, law enforcement and much more – but deciding which one matches your needs and abilities is the challenge. This workshop will provide information and resources to help you be successful in your Federal job search. The Federal Job Search How Federal Jobs Are Filled Federal Government Resumes KSA and questionnaire documents Federal Core Competencies Background Checks and Security Clearances Benefits Available to Federal Government Employees What Can I Do In Government With My Major? Information on e-Scholar! – (scholarships, internships, grants for students) Resources The Federal Job Search: Step 1 - Meet with a Career Counselor Meeting with a Career Counselor from the Center for Career and Professional Development can help you determine career goals to fit your major and interests. You can work with a counselor to plan a path to reach your goals, whether you seek employment in the government, the private sector or you are open to possibilities in both areas. The job search plan for government employment requires creating a different format resume and some extra steps you may not have used. Working with a Career Counselor provides support and added information for this process. Contact at 303-458-3508 or 800-388-2366 x3508 to set up an appointment. Career counseling appointment can be conducted either in-person (at the Northwest Denver Campus), or over the phone or via Skype. One resource where you can explore career options within federal employment and review easy to understand job descriptions is Making the Difference. There you'll find the 411 on branches of the government and federal agencies in order to learn what they do and the types of positions they fill. The site also has information on federal internships and student opportunities. For more detailed information about tiles, a job seeker can check OPM’s Classification Manual. Step 2 - Go to the USAJOBS Website: Now that you've met with a Career Counselor, created a federal format resume and know about some of the options that interest you, the first place to check for job openings in the Federal Government is the USAJOBS website. Most agencies advertise job openings in the USAJOBS system. This system allows you to sort openings by occupation, location, occupational group, keyword, grade level, salary, and Government agency. The search for a Federal position isn’t nearly as complex as it was a few years ago. USAJOBS provides current information, is convenient and user friendly, and is updated daily. It provides worldwide job vacancy information, employment information fact sheets, job applications, forms online, and the ability to help you create a Job Agent for updates on the latest listings. In many cases, you can simply apply for positions online. You will want to create an account in USAJOBS by clicking on "My USAJOBS" in the top menu bar. Having the account gives you an opportunity to create and upload resumes, apply for jobs within the system and access detailed information about open positions. Current undergraduate students may also want to look at StudentJobs.gov for internships and part-time positions. USAJOBS an online Resume Builder. Using the “Resume” link, you can create multiple online resumes specifically designed for Federal jobs based on the federal resume you created with a Career Counselor. You can also use the Resume Builder to print, save, edit for future use, or send by fax or email to employers. For many of the vacancies listed on the site, you can submit resumes created through USAJOBS directly to hiring agencies through an electronic submission process. You will also want to utilize the federal format resume you developed with your Career Counselor. That file can be sent directly to recruiters in federal agencies. Use the "Veterans" Link at the top of the page on USAJOBS to find more information on hiring programs for veterans, to calculate your Veterans Preference Status and to find the forms to report your veteran status. Step 3 – Contact Federal agencies: You can also contact agencies directly for assistance and information about special hiring programs. Because a number of agencies operate as "Excepted Service Agencies" they are not required to post all positions through USAJOBS. If submission via USAJOBS is required, you will be directed to that site. There are many benefits to contacting agencies directly. HR specialists can often direct you to appropriate openings quickly. They can also explain special hiring programs for Bilingual or Bi-cultural applicants, Veterans and workers with disabilities. Professionals in IT occupations and medical occupations currently qualify for direct hiring programs in many agencies. Senior-level management candidates may also be hired on a special program either through USAJOBS or within the agencies. Step 4 – Look for federal opportunities promoted through Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development Several federal government agencies post information about jobs, internships, and special programs for students and recent graduates on CareerLink. Some agencies also attend career fairs and other employer events at Regis to meet prospecitve candidates. See our events calendar, employer directory and job postings on Regis CareerLink. Step 5 – Study the Vacancy Announcement: Once you have found a position that interests you, you will need more information on the specific opportunity. Use USAJOBS and the agency web site to obtain a copy of the vacancy announcement. There is always information on each position and your questions be answered as you read through the announcement to find: Basic information on the opening Who may apply Education requirements Opening and closing dates Pay range Series and grade Promotional potential Job duties Basic qualifications How to apply Conditions for employment Location(s) Whether or not a test or other documentation such as Knowledge, Skills and Abilities sheets or questionnaires are required. Step 6 - Develop a Federal Resume and Carefully Follow all the Application Instructions: Although creating a federal format resume, both as a Word document on on the USAJOBS site is recommended, you can apply for most jobs with a resume or the Optional Application for Federal Employment (OF-612). For jobs that are unique or filled through automated procedures, you may be given a special form and/or instructions in the job announcement. When you apply using a resume, use the example of a federal format. How Federal Jobs Are Filled While the Federal job search process has become more like that of private industry, there are still significant differences due to laws, executive orders, and regulations that govern Federal employment. The application you submit will typically go through several levels of review. First, HR specialists will screen it to see if the application meets the basic requirements for the position, Then specialists or a panel of experts will rate the application according to the additional qualifications listed on the vacancy announcement. If the application rates among the top applications, it will be forwarded to the hiring manager who will choose the candidates who qualify for the next step in the process. This may include tests, addition documentation and, ultimately, interviews. Federal Hiring Process 1. Review resumes for federal program, veteran and citizen status and qualifications 2. Assess and rank candidates from KSAs, questionnaires and possibly other tests 3. List and certify eligable candidates in order and schedule interviews 4. Make job offers; conduct background and security screenings - may delay start date 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 skill levels or ask the applicant to fill out a questionnaire. Copies of academic transcripts or other materials may be requested. There are two classes of jobs in the Federal Government: 1) those that are in the Competitive Civil Service, and 2) those that are in the Excepted Service. Competitive service jobs are under OPM’s jurisdiction and subject to the civil service laws passed by Congress to ensure that applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. These laws give selecting officials broad authority to review more than one applicant source before determining the best-qualified candidate based on job-related criteria. "Excepted Service Agencies" have their own hiring systems which establish the evaluation criteria they use in filling their internal vacancies. If you are interested in employment with an excepted service agency, you should contact that agency directly. Federal Government Resumes A resume for a Federal position includes all of the information in a standard resume plus some additional details. Government resumes are often 2 - 4 pages which is longer than the 1 - 2 page resume typical in the private sector. Creating a resume involves gathering the required information and putting it into the correct format. If you have a standard resume, you already have most of the information you need. In addition, resumes and applications for Federal employment must include the following: Complete contact information: mailing address, phone, email. Social Security Number - this is the only type of resume where you will include this number. Job facts – You will need to copy the announcement number, position title and grade level from the vacancy announcement. If the announcement lists more than one grade level, state the lowest level you would accept. For example, if the announcement describes the job as ‘GS 5/7’, decide whether you would take the GS-5 or if you would only accept a GS-7 position. Be sure you qualify for the level you choose. Work experience – From each past job, give the standard information found in most resumes. State the job title, starting and ending dates (including month and year), employer’s name and address, and major duties and accomplishments. Include the average number of hours worked per week, salary or wage earned; supervisor’s name, address and telephone number, and whether they can be contacted. If you have had past jobs in the Federal Government, include the occupational series numbers with the starting and ending grades of those positions. It is essential to describe skills, duties, accomplishments and education in a way that proves how you meet the job qualifications. Study the vacancy announcement and emphasize the parts of your work history that are related to the qualifications listed there. Education and Training – Give the names and addresses of all colleges and universities that you attended - as well as the same information on your last high school. List degrees received, the month and year the degrees were conferred, and your major areas of study. Consider providing the number of credits you have earned in subjects related to the position. In the Federal Government, 24 credits in a subject is often considered equivalent to a major. If you are working toward a degree, show the total number of credits you have earned. If you are still in school, include the month and year you expect to graduate. (Use the word ‘expected’.) Whether you are a student or a graduate, include your GPA and the scale used (i.e. 3.57/4.0) Other qualifications – Be sure to mention relevant skills and achievements that are not immediately obvious from other parts of your resume. These could include computer skills, knowledge of a foreign language, or professional designations. Performance awards – List any performance awards or bonuses you might have received. Qualifications summary – You might want to summarize your qualifications in a separate section of your resume. These sections work best when they focus on the qualifications shown in the vacancy announcement. Hiring preferences – If you are a veteran or a former Federal employee who was laid off you might qualify for a hiring preference. Read the vacancy announcements or contact the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to learn more. Submit your information in the format as specified by the vacancy announcement. Some Federal agencies have developed their own automated resume builders that applicants must use. These agencies often use automated systems to check applicants’ qualifications and then sort resumes by looking for the keywords requested by the hiring manger. Be sure and use keywords from vacancy announcements exactly as they appear. Refer to the examples of the federal format for paper and electronic submission In Addition to your Resume: KSAs and Questionnaires for Federal Job Applications When applying for a federal position, you may be asked to provide more than a resume and letter of interest. You may be asked to write about your experience that demonstrates the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the particular position. You may also be asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire about attributes that apply to you. KSAs or assessments may also be delayed until later in the process, after your resume is reviewed and you are determined to be a top candidate. Here are terms you will want to know: Knowledge: organized body of information, usually of a factual or procedural nature, which, if applied, makes adequate performance on the job possible Skills: the proficient manual, verbal or mental manipulation of data, people, or things. Demonstrate observable, quantifiable, measurable. Abilities: the power to perform an activity at the present time. Implied is a lack of discernible barriers, either physical or mental, to performing the activity. KSA essay styles: convey “pictures”: Narrative CCAR KSA (long- one page)*- have a good beginning, a couple good examples and a closing that summarizes Example KSA- shorter style – (medium-half page) List KSA (shortest-1/2 page numbered or bulleted list) CCSR: *method to write about KSAs Context- specific situation Challenge- what needed to be addressed Action- what you actually did Results- what happened because of what you did Example of the introduction to a written KSA demonstrating ability to work with data on a computer (note use of CCAR method) As a summer intern with PPS, I acted as the network controller for the company’s operations center. The company was experiencing data communication problems including data isolation, equipment fault detection and circuit outages. In order to correct these problems, I attended professional training classes. The knowledge and experience I gained and applied from the classes enabled me to decrease data communications problems within. (The following paragraphs provide technical details.) You may find this KSA worksheet helpful in drafting your KSA statements. Refer also to an example of a Federal resume with the accompanying KSA essays. Standard Self-Assessment Questions: Likert Scored Qualification ratings: 1 Low-5 high (4 or 5 is desirable) Check all that apply (as many as possible!) Yes/No questions/statements Keep in mind some agencies, like the US Foreign Service, still administer some type of written test that is taken in a scheduled, proctored setting. Make note of test requirements for any job you apply for and seek clarification about that test from the hiring agency. Federal Core Competencies Within the documentation you submit for a federal position (resume, KSAs, cover letter, etc.) you may wonder what the hiring officials are looking for. The list of Federal Core Competencies can help you think about any applicable skills you possess that not only match the job, but also the general skill set the federal government seeks. Communicate these competencies, as appropriate, in your resume and KSAs. A Word about Background Checks and Security Clearances Most agencies will make a job offer and await your answer before they perform a background check or security clearance. A background check involves a check of criminal and bankruptcy court records, and verification of citizenship, residence, education and employment. References will most likely be called. Some positions require a most extensive security clearance. There are several levels of clearance in the federal government; the announcement will tell you the level of clearance required. Since a clearance can take 6 months or longer it can delay how soon you can actually start the job. To facilitate this process, make sure the contact information for former employers and other references on your resume are up to date and complete on the SF86 form. Your references will be contacted and interviewed, so let them know about the process. A 50-state criminal background check and/or credit check may be performed. Be advised: Your online social networking pages can be accessed during a Federal Government background check or security clearance, regardless of your privacy settings. Check the content on your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn,Twitter, and other sites for photos and content you do not want a potential employer to see. Benefits Available to Federal Government Employees Pay is only part of the compensation an employee will earn working for the Federal Government. A broad array of family-friendly benefits programs are offered to meet the needs of an employee and his/her family. Each Federal agency has a unique mission and requirements, and they each offer unique benefits packages. Listed below is a sampling of the benefits that may be available to permanent Federal employees: The Federal Government’s benefits program- is a nationally recognized model that offers choice and flexibility along with a substantial employer contribution to premiums. Employees can pay their share of premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs with pre-tax dollars. Leave policy provides ample time off to take care of personal, recreational and health care needs, in addition to 10 paid holidays every year. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) – Benefits based on amount of service and salary history - Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – Multiple investment options similar to a 401(k) plan. Social Security – Credit earned while working with the Government. Retirement benefits, disability protection, and survivor protection. –Medicare – Part A: available to you at no cost at age 65. Student Loan Repayment - Authorizes agencies to repay Federally insured student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for candidates or current employees. Tuition Assistance – Offered to Federal employees to help pay for their classes when it is part of their training and directly relates to their official duties. E-Scholar, an important and very valuable website for students, can be accessed by going to Student Jobs. It provides students, parents and career professionals information on educational opportunities offered by Federal Government departments and agencies. Information on scholarships, internships, fellowships, grants, and cooperative programs is available. Don’t miss this site! Resources In addition to USAJobs, the following websites and print resources are available to help you with your federal job search. Internet Resources: USA.gov - the only government web site that provides you with easy, one-stop access to all online U.S. Federal Government resources. It also gives you access to many federal government links – branches and departments, contacts, FAQs and articles. Student Jobs - On this site you can search for jobs and internships and create a profile and resume. This is a gateway to federal agency information and articles. E-Scholar, an important and very valuable website for students, can also be accessed by going into this site. It provides students, parents and career professionals information on educational opportunities offered by Federal Government departments and agencies – or partnering organizations. Information on scholarships, internships, fellowships, grants, and cooperative programs – domestic and foreign - is available. Don’t miss this site! America’s Job Bank – Contains listings of government and private sector job opportunities compiled by the State Employment Services offices throughout the nation. Partnership for Public Service – A non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to revitalizing federal government service. The Partnership works to make the government an employer of choice for talented, dedicated Americans through educational outreach, research, legislative advocacy, and hands-on partnerships with agencies on workforce management issues. Federal Employment for People with Disabilities. Office of Personnel Management, Veterans Employment Information. FedScope -- A database of federal employment to find agencies and numbers hired by state, job category and income level. GovLoop – State, local, international and federal networking - students are welcome (basic service is free; cost if upgrading search) Best Places to Work -- Rates employee satisfaction both in the government and private sector organizations. The new report from the Partners for Public Service and the National Academy of Public Administration,Where the Jobs Are: The Continuing Growth of Federal Job Opportunities, lists the professional fields and the numbers of positions likely to be filled in 24 major agencies representing 95 percent of the federal government. Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development has information on its website (www.regis.edu/ccpd) which will help you write effective resumes (including a resume for federal government applications) and cover letters. There are also other online workshops on the site on Networking, Interviewing, Negotiating and Researching Careers and Employment. Thank you for participating in the Federal Job Hunting Workshop, offered online by Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development. Your questions and comments about this online workshop are welcome. For an appointment to discuss your federal job search or to receive further assistance with your job search strategies, contact the Center for Career and Professional Development at 303.458.3508 or 800.388.2366 x3508.