Federal Government Jobs

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Using USAJobs to Your Advantage – Apply Early and Frequently

Jean Kapala Brown, Executive Director of the Chicago Federal Executive Board, advises that, “One way to hear about federal job openings FIRST is to have USA jobs send you email alerts.” She goes on to state, “this will be critical with the limited number of applications the system will now accept. As of December 2014, FEMA will limit the number of job applicants to 200 applicants per job announcement across all job categories, in order to expedite the hiring process.”

Previously most agencies accepted applications up to the closing date of the federal job announcement. To streamline and fast track the hiring process agencies are experimenting with closing the job announcement after receipt of a specific number of applications. A single job announcement can easily generate thousands of applications in today’s automated environment and the more applications you have the longer it takes to hire.

Agencies can achieve the same results by limiting the time the bid is open. Some announcements are only open, available, for a week or less. Whether or not they limit the number of applicants or choose to shorten the time a job announcement is advertised applicants must be prepared to reply immediately to any job announcement of interest. Sign up for www.USAJobs.gov email alerts as Jean suggests and visit the site frequently so you won’t miss out on a job opportunity in your area.

Some feel this is unfair and limits the application pool. My personal opinion is that it is generally a good thing because too often agency HR departments gets bogged down with the administrative burden of having to review, assess, and evaluate thousands of applications for a single opening. By limiting the number, the HR departments can thoroughly review and assess each application received so that the most qualified are properly identified. Without these limitations it can take months to fill a critical position.

I experienced this firsthand during my career. I was a certified rating official with the Federal Aviation Administration for technical specialties in the 2100 series. When announcements closed I would travel to the regional office in New York City to evaluate and rate applicant’s packages. It was tedious and very time consuming. Even with today’s advanced automation HR specialists still make the final determinations and with the new Category Rating System supervisors and staff must be more involved throughout the hiring process.

The old saying that the early bird catches the worm still applies and is true in most venues; you have to be prepared and with today’s automation it’s easy to do. I always recommend completing your federal resume/application off line on your desktop computer before you copy and paste it into the USAJobs’ resume builder. This gives you the opportunity to take your time and compose a thorough application that you can easily update as you gain new experiences, education, and complete new assignments. This applies to employees as well, not just to job seekers. I kept my application updated in real time on my desktop throughout my career so that I was prepared to apply for any job of interest that came my way.

When applying for a job, review the job announcement thoroughly. This document guides you through the application process, lists required experience and/or education, and provides an HR contact for you to call or email if you run into problems. You must tailor your application to each job announcement and many make the mistake of submitting the same application for all jobs they apply for. Even within the same job series qualification and required knowledge, skills and abilities can change and if you leave these out you more than likely will not make the best qualified list.

USAjobs allows you to store up to five resumes and ten candidate documents that you can use to submit for vacancies as they occur. You can easily revise any of them as needed before applying for your next job.

How to Get Started on USAJobs.gov

  • Visit www.USAJobs.gov
  • Click on “Create an Account” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen
  • Enter your email address (required)
  • Create a username
  • Agree to the USAJobs terms and conditions
  • Copy and paste your resume into their resume builder
  • Search, apply for jobs

Seek out all jobs that you qualify for in your area of consideration and apply. If you don’t find anything in your primary search look for related occupations that you can meet the qualifications for to get your foot in the door. One of the keys to success is finding viable openings to apply for and to do this today you have to be proactive and constantly searching available listings for opportunities. Sign up for job email alerts and visit USAJobs frequently to make a connection.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

About The Author

Dennis V. Damp is a retired federal manager, business owner, career counselor and veteran. Damp’s The Book of U.S. Government Jobs was awarded “Best Career” title by the Benjamin Franklin Awards Committee. Damp is the author of 28 books, a recognized employment expert, and a retired federal manager with 35 years of service. He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and held numerous supervisory and management positions and was responsible for recruiting, rating and interviewing applicants, outreach and hiring. His last government position was technical operations manager at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s air traffic control tower.