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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I Just Found the “Perfect” Job Announcement: Now What?

Before you get too excited, take a careful look at the announcement:

  • Are you eligible to apply? Review the “who can apply” section of the announcement to make sure you’re eligible. If you do not meet the criteria outlined and apply anyway, you will be eliminated.
  • When does it close? Do you have time to tweak your resume (you have a resume, right??) to include the key words?
  • Do you meet the specialized experience requirement? Check under the How You Will be Evaluated section and review the specialized experience; this is a must have, not a nice to have.
  • Are there any Selective Placement Factors (SPF) listed? If so, do you have them? Are they clearly articulated in your resume? If you do not have the SPF, you should pick a different announcement; if you do, be sure to tweak your resume to clearly show your possession of the SPF.

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The Face of USAJOBS is Changing!

In late February, USAJOBS rolled out the first of many promised enhancements to improve the application process. The initial home page looks the same, but the application process has been reduced to 5 steps and the graphics and instructions are easier to follow. Additionally, you can save your progress on your application and return later without starting all over again.

You will still click the “apply online” button on the vacancy announcement to get started with your application; once you get to the application process you will see the five steps:

Step 1: Select Resume
Step 2: Select Documents
Step 3: Review Package
Step 4: Include Personal Info
Step 5: Review and Continue Application Process [Read more…]

10 Things that Will Improve Your USAJOBS Resume

I am often asked what the DIY person can do to their resume to make it better. Here are 10 easy-to-implement suggestions: 

  1. Create a Skills Summary or Professional Profile. This is great way to include keywords and summarize who you are and what you bring to the table in a couple of sentences.
  1. Add awards. Give yourself credit.
  1. Get rid of experience that is irrelevant and/or more than 10 years old. Hiring Managers [and Human Resources (HR) people] want to know what you have done lately. And, most likely your experience from 10+ years ago was not at the same level as you are targeting now—so it may not count as qualifying experience. Finally, if you haven’t done something in more than 10 years, even if you are considered qualified, you may not be best If you were the hiring manager, would YOU want to select someone who hasn’t done something in 10 years or someone who is doing it now?

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The Senior Executive Service (SES) is Changing!

You may have seen the recent Executive Order (EO), Strengthening the Senior Executive Service, issued by the White House on December 15, 2015. What does this mean to you as a potential SES candidate?

The EO orders a number of reform action items over the next six months, and I believe these are the ones that potential SES candidates should note:

The Qualifications Review Board (QRB) process will be evaluated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and new alternatives to the traditional 10-page Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) submission may be deemed acceptable.

The SES application process may change. Heads of agencies are encouraged to simplify and shorten the initial application process, including only Technical Qualifications (also known as Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Professional Technical Qualifications) that are truly necessary for success. Look for more five-page (or similar) resume-only applications.

By May 31 of this year, agencies with 20 or more SES are expected to submit a plan to OPM for rotating SES members to improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration. The goal is to rotate 15% of SES for at least 120 days.

If you are considering applying for the SES, what should you do? [Read more…]