5 Tips for Federal Employment Success
This month, we’re sharing five tips to support our federal job seekers. Whether you are at the beginning stages or a current federal employee, we hope you’ll incorporate some of these strategies into your plan.
The federal employment process isn’t intuitive and can vary quite a bit from the steps you’d take in the private sector or contracting space. There are different resume requirements, hiring programs and other regulations that impact job seekers. These tips are not presented in order of importance; depending on where you are in your search, some may hold more value than others.
Now, this tip may seem obvious, but it bears reinforcing. Read job announcements, read hiring regulations (more on that in Tip 3), and then read some more announcements. A well-written job announcement can be incredibly helpful when preparing and/or tailoring a federal resume so it’s well worth your time to review those aligned with your background at different levels and in different agencies. Even if you aren’t ready to apply or if the location isn’t quite right, a well-written announcement will guide you in the right direction with your content.
One of the biggest hurdles in resume writing is including accomplishments – some of us don’t like to talk about ourselves. But, if we don’t, who will? If you did these things in a previous position, you shouldn’t hesitate sharing (unless it’s classified). In the federal employment process, HR isn’t allowed to make assumptions about our experience or connect the dots – they award credit based on what they see in the resume. This is why it’s critical to start listing those outcomes and preparing those stories so you can incorporate them into your federal resume. Chances are, you’ve started to prepare for upcoming interviews and begun to make a shortlist of the stories you’ll tell. Capitalize on those efforts – this guide will help you brainstorm.
One of the areas that can frustrate job seekers with the federal employment process (aside from the resume) is eligibility and other regulations. We established the value of reading thoroughly in Tip 1, but reading beyond the announcement is critical. You may have visited FedsHireVets before but have you expanded all the sections for job seekers? Everything you need to know about what programs you’re eligible for and what documents are required can be found on this site. Once you’ve reviewed the different hiring programs and authorities, you’ll have a better idea of the documents you need for your applications. Acquire them, upload them, and then check to make sure they are clearly legible – if HR can’t read an older document that’s been scanned too many times, they can mark it incomplete. Don’t let your efforts applying to positions be negated due to not understanding your eligibility.
Tip 4: Learn the quirks.
Chances are, you’ve narrowed the list of your target agencies to something more manageable. You aren’t really open to anything – there are things you won’t or can’t do. Take a look at your shortlist of agencies or run a search with your target position titles and draft a list of the agencies that appeal to you who are looking to hire your specialty. Now, go to each of those agencies’ career pages (on LinkedIn, too) and poke around. You might be surprised what you find there! Sometimes, they’ll post about events, share contacts for veteran or military spouse job seekers and other positions not posted on USAJobs. There are some agencies that only post a public notice on USAJobs and host their own job database. If you’re using USAJobs exclusively, you’re likely missing out on information.
Job searching and researching can be a lonely task. We can spend hours of screen time (and should spend time) updating documents and responding to postings, but there are opportunities when expanding your network can be critical. Remember, quality over quantity here: you can have 500 surface-level connections on LinkedIn who’ve you never engaged with or you can have 200 connections composed of a smaller circle of individuals who you engage with routinely. Beyond LinkedIn, consider attending (and participating) in information sessions hosted by your target agencies. At these events, you’ll be able to follow up with more substantive questions after learning the basics. You also have a ton of warm connections here at Hire Heroes USA – our volunteer network is vast. Consider requesting a mentoring or mock interview session to learn more about an agency or industry or to sharpen your interviewing skills.
Learning a new process can be difficult, but we hope these tips will help you prioritize your time and efforts. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do it all at once. Develop a strategy and some focus areas to keep yourself accountable. You know your experience best – let us help once you’ve determined your best plan of action. You can be successful, just understand the harder you work, the luckier you get. Engage with the Federal Program Team here.
If you would like more information about our Federal Program or need assistance getting in contact with your Transition Specialist, log into your MyTrak page.