Applying for Jobs in the Federal Government: Tips from a Military Spouse Expert

Dashika Bethune
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    Military spouses often question their ability to succeed when seeking their next career. I have heard the good, bad and ugly of moving through the federal application process. I’m here to share my experience and best practices for searching for federal jobs as both a military spouse and Federal Employment Specialist. 

    Understand the Process

    Let’s look at some of the challenges when it comes to seeking federal employment as a military spouse. First, you must understand that you have to be confident in yourself and not lose hope when you do not get the response you are looking for initially. Start with understanding the process of federal positions. This means looking through the information that is provided for military spouses. 

    Federal agencies can use the military spouse non-competitive hiring process to fill positions on either a temporary or permanent basis. Agencies are not obligated to pick a military spouse as a candidate. Always make sure that you are supplying the information that is needed based on the eligibility category you fall in. 

    That can mean you are eligible if you are:

    1. – A spouse of an active duty member of the armed forces
    2. – A spouse of a service member who is 100% disabled due to a service-connected injury at the time of separation from military service
    3. – A spouse of a service member killed while on active duty

    If a military spouse remarries, that eligibility is eliminated (unless that spouse marries another active duty member). You must still apply and meet qualification standards and additional requirements, such as a background investigation. 

    Target Your Resume & Application

    The biggest myth about writing a federal resume is to include your whole life story on your resume!  Most hiring managers don’t want to read a resume that is 10-12 pages.  You need to craft your resume to align with the required qualifications and experiences that the hiring organization is looking for.

    Here are some tips:

    1.) Read the entire job announcement. Make sure you focus on the following sections to help you understand whether or not you qualify for the position:

    • Duties and Qualifications
    • How to Apply (including a preview of the assessment questionnaire, if applicable)
    • How You Will be Evaluated

    2.) Make sure you have the required experience and/or education before you apply for the position. Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and the required qualifications that may include: 

    • – Level and amount of experience
    • – Education
    • – Training

    3.) Tailor your resume based on the required qualifications. When looking at federal jobs it is often required that you have the experience in a particular type of work for a certain period of time. That means you must show your skills and experiences and meet the qualifications and requirements that are listed in the job announcement to be considered for that particular job. You want to include important contact information:

    • – Address 
    • – Email 
    • – Phone Number

    4.) For the position, make sure you include dates, hours and level of experience: 

    • – Start and end dates (including the month and year)
    • – The number of hours you worked per week (HR wants to know if it was FT or PT)
    • – The level and amount of experience—for instance, whether you served as a project manager or a team member helps to illustrate your level of experience
    • – Examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments that prove you can perform the tasks at the level required for the job as stated in the job announcement. Your experience needs to address every required qualification.

    The federal application process can seem overwhelming and difficult. There are plenty of resources and valuable information to help military spouses navigate the federal process. Previously, I had applied for over 30 federal jobs and it wasn’t until I decided to fully engage in the process that I received a job offer. Make sure to follow the tips in this article, provide the necessary paperwork and do not give up. Your chance will come. Take it from an experienced military spouse in the federal career field, you can do this! 


    Dashika Bethune is a Federal Sector Program Specialist at Hire Heroes USA. Hire Heroes USA provides free job search assistance to U.S. military members, veterans and their spouses, and we help companies connect with opportunities to hire them. We have a proven track record of success in helping over 75,000 veterans and military spouses get hired since the company was founded. The services never expire. Sign up today at