The Top Three Things to Do When Applying for Federal Jobs in the United States

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The federal recruiting process received a lot of attention in 2010 and 2011 with the Obama administration’s efforts to make the process simpler and more convenient for applicants. Many agencies have risen to the challenge and implemented improvements. However, job applicants indicated that while their overall experience has improved, more could be done.

Last year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released an employment promotion in the United States – the official clearinghouse for federal government jobs used by millions of people to identify and apply to government jobs. Although the Promotion has received a number of complaints, it remains the official central government portal for job vacancies and the processing of applications.

At the centre of it all are citizens interested in finding federal employment. According to OPM, more than 22 million requests are processed each year. While this is an astonishing number of applications, it is surprising how many of these applications do not go through the initial selection process.

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While working as the Human Resources Manager at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), we conducted an in-depth analysis of applications for vacancies. I was surprised, like many of my colleagues at the agency, to learn that for most of our entry-level jobs, more than half of all applications submitted were screened before applicants’ qualifications. be reviewed by a member of my team. From talking to my employees who have worked for other agencies, I learned that this is a common occurrence.

Some employees attributed the high selection rate to applicants who did not read the job advertisements. However, it was easy enough to see that this phenomenon was at least in part due to the complexity of the process – including the terms. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that many applicants simply did not understand the requirements – whether it was the job itself, the application process, or the qualifications. For example, a large number of applicants did not provide all the documents required to support responses to the online questionnaire before the application deadline.

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The three most important things a federal job seeker can do to increase the likelihood that their resume will be seen by a hiring manager are:


Review “Who May Be Considered” in the job advertisement to ensure eligibility. Admittedly, finding out this can be difficult – especially when the language is unusual. The broadest category of eligibility is for all citizens of the United States. If the position is only open to registered candidates, in general, you must have completed three years of competitive federal service to be considered. The language here will be very specific. If you do not meet the criteria or if you fail to provide the supporting documents, your application will be rejected.

Education and experience

Review the duties of the position to determine if your previous education and experience can be described in a way that demonstrates that you have the knowledge and experience to do the job. This is not the time for imaginative desire. People who skip the selection process will clearly demonstrate that they have the right knowledge and experience. So, target jobs that match your education and experience.

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How to Apply

Follow all of the steps mentioned in the “How to Apply” section of the listing – especially the instructions for submitting the required documents – and do it before the closing date. Application documents are rarely accepted after the deadline, as no candidate can receive a “perk” (such as additional time to apply) that is not extended for all candidates. Individual computer or network problems are not acceptable reasons for requesting an exception.
Federal employment can be both rewarding and exciting. But to serve, you must be chosen. The key to selection is to identify suitable opportunities and submit a full and competitive application by the deadline or closing date.

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