7 Steps to Prepare Yourself for New Administration

Nancy Segal is now the weekly career columnist for FEDWeek. This article was originally posted in the FEDWeek Career Forum.

January always brings new beginnings—a new year, resolutions, and promises to ourselves and others. This January brings a Presidential transition; if nothing else, 2017 promises change for the federal employee. There will be new agency heads, new policies, and new thinking.

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A Thank You Gift From Nancy

Those of you who follow me through this column know that I am a big fan of LinkedIn; its importance in the career world (even in the federal government) cannot be overstated. LinkedIn is always changing to keep its content fresh and it approach relevant.

In September 2016, LinkedIn announced that it was changing its desktop design and user interface. Of course, we do not know what features will be retained or eliminated in the redesign. To ensure you have access to all of your information, regardless of what changes LinkedIn makes, it is a good idea to back up your information.

As a free gift in recognition of your loyalty and ongoing support (and of course, the holiday season!), I am providing you with a short eBook on how to back up your LinkedIn Profile—a good habit to get into, regardless of what changes LinkedIn makes!

All the best to you, your family, and loved ones for a healthy and prosperous 2017!


I’m Still Active Duty; Can I Use Veterans’ Preference?

Most military members begin their job search prior to leaving service. If a military member is seeking a federal position, using veterans’ preference is important but if you’re still active duty, you do not have your final DD-214 or a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). [Read more…]

Thank You Notes; They Matter

You just left the interview. You think it went great. Now what? It is not the time to let up. Everything that you’ve done up to this point is moving you forward in your job search. Keep the momentum going.

Send a Thank You

You can send a thank you via email (quick, but not as personal as a handwritten card). You can mail it (takes a few days, so it doesn’t have the immediacy of an email, but has a bigger impact due to the perceived time and care it took to handwrite a note). Or, you can drop off a handwritten note the next day (a good strategy for big companies when you can hand the envelope to the receptionist). NOTE: If you are applying for a federal job, email is essential. Most federal agency “snail mail” goes to a third party first to ensure that its safe so it may take weeks for a mailed thank you to get to a federal agency; bringing a note to the agency won’t work either as most federal agencies have difficult access requirements. [Read more…]

Specialized Hiring Authorities

As we have discussed in earlier articles, getting a federal job can be difficult. Most people are somewhat familiar with veteran’s preference but there are other special hiring authorities that may help you get the job you are targeting. Here are a few:

  • Digital Services Experts: In mid-2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) authorized excepted service appointments at the GS 11 to 15 level for individuals with expertise in “modern digital product design, software engineering, product management, creating and maintaining flexible infrastructure, and designing and implementing agile governance structures” according to the former OPM Director. If you fall into this category, you may be eligible for this specialized hiring authority. Twenty-five agencies and a number of programs may use this authority. As you network, be sure to mention your eligibility for this appointment; not all Human Resources personnel and hiring managers may know about this. As currently structured, appointments under this authority may not be extended beyond September 30, 2017.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Be on LinkedIn

What? You’re not on LinkedIn yet? What are you waiting for? Join the 350 million people already there. These seven reasons outline why you should be on the social networking site.

  1. Because That’s Where The People Are. LinkedIn is the number one social network for professionals — and, arguably, the most important website for jobseekers — with more than 347 million members worldwide. Not only are people you know already on the site, but so are people you should get to know — recruiters, hiring managers, and your future co-workers.

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Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Programs: A Great Way to Prepare

Many agencies use Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) as one tool to identify and prepare aspiring senior executive leaders. SESCDPs are highly competitive programs designed to further develop SES candidates’ competencies in each of the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). Most agencies receive 500-1,000 applications in response to their SESCDP postings.

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Quantifying Accomplishments

Accomplishments demonstrate your skills and experience. It’s one thing to claim you can do something — it’s another to prove you’ve done it.

When collecting accomplishments for a job search, consider the key areas of competency required for success in the position you are seeking. What are the key components of your job? You should be able to identify accomplishments directly related to this expertise.

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What is the Senior Executive Service (SES) Qualifications Review Board (QRB) and How Does it Work?

Qualifications Review Boards (QRBs) are Office of Personnel Management (OPM)-administered independent boards consisting of senior executive service members who assess the executive core qualifications (ECQs) of SES candidates. All SES candidates must have their executive qualifications certified by an independent QRB before being appointed as career members of the SES. The QRB review and certification is the last critical step in the SES selection process. QRBs certify that an SES candidate possesses broad leadership skills and demonstrated experience in Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions. The experience must be relatively recent and at the executive level (typically the grade 15 in federal service or equivalent private sector experience).

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Having Trouble Getting a Federal Job?

Getting a federal job is a lengthy and difficult process. Many postings receive hundreds, or even a thousand or more applications. I tell most clients that 9-12 months is the time that it can take to get a federal position; while it can happen sooner, this is a realistic timeframe. Even if you are transitioning from the military, you should not expect to get a federal job immediately.

In my view, getting a federal job takes three things:

  1. Applying for jobs for which you are truly qualified. By this, I mean that you already possess the specialized experience required in the job announcement AND you can provide the highest and best answer to every question on the occupational questionnaire. If, when you review the questionnaire (and I always recommend reviewing the questionnaire before applying), you cannot provide the highest and best answer to each question (or at least 90%), you should pick another announcement.

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