Creating a Job Search Plan

I often hear comments along the lines of, “I’ve never had to look for a job, they have always just fallen into my lap!” While that may have been true in the past, for most of us, a successful job search requires organization and effort. You will need to develop a routine to be successful in your job search. It is important to do something to move your job search forward every day.   You will need to create a new set of priorities and schedules—and write it down so you can hold yourself accountable. [Read more…]

I know I could do the job…if only they’d give me a chance!

I wish I had a dollar for every time a client made the above comment. While I have no doubt that the comment is true, we are currently in a buyer’s market—where hiring managers have lots of choices to make among candidates. While it is certainly possible for a hiring manager to pick someone based on their potential (especially for jobs above the entry level), in my view, it is unrealistic to expect hiring managers to do this. Let’s think about this for a moment…

Most job postings specify the criteria the hiring organization is looking for—whether through specialized experience and the occupational questionnaires in the federal government, or in a section in a private section posting that says something along the lines of, “The ideal candidate will have…” All applicants should carefully review the qualifications required. If the posting asks for 10 years of experience and you have 6, you are not likely well qualified. Or, if your experience is in a different area all together, while again, you may the basic qualifications (like a degree), you are not likely to have the specialized experience required. [Read more…]

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…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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?

[Read more…]

Do I Really Need a LinkedIn Profile?

As many of you know, LinkedIn is a social networking site targeted toward professionals. In just over 10 years, LinkedIn has grown to more than 300 million members in 200 countries; LinkedIn is available in 20 languages!

If you are searching for a position in the private sector, you definitely need a strong LinkedIn Profile. Recruiters use LinkedIn to search for potential applicants—thousands of recruiters from thousands of companies use LinkedIn as their ONLY source for candidates so as a job seeker, you are missing potential opportunities if you do not have a good profile. Even if you are targeting organizations who do not use LinkedIn to recruit, many hiring managers are looking at your LinkedIn Profile before deciding whether to interview you. [Read more…]

Reading a Federal Job Announcement

When most of us look at a federal job announcement, we tend to focus on the grade of job and not much else. However, if we want to be successful applicants, we need to spend a lot more time focusing on job announcements. Anyone considering applying for a federal job should pay special attention to each of these parts of the job announcement:

  • Who can Apply
  • Qualifications Required / How You Will be Evaluated
  • The Occupational Questionnaire
  • How to Apply

We’ll look at each of these in turn: [Read more…]

Time to Look for a New Federal Job?

If it has been a while since you’ve looked for a new government job, it may be helpful to review the two basics before you get started.

1. Make sure your USAJOBS account is up-to-date.

Test your USAJOBS user name and password to make sure that they work. If you cannot remember your user name or password, recover/reset them before you start applying. You do not want to find yourself unable to get into your USAJOBS account at 11:58 PM on the night the job is closing! Contact the USAJOBS Help Desk for assistance.

2. Review your USAJOBS Profile.

[Read more…]