With a slew of holidays upon us that celebrate our nation, it only makes sense to pause and reflect upon the vast numbers of professionals it takes on any given day to keep our country operating.  There is a breadth and depth of career options that are available within the federal government simply are not found in any other employer.

If you are in your PRIME and have determined that you wish to pursue a career that aligns with your core values and provides a mission, you may just be surprised at all the options available within the federal government.  This stems from the fact that the goal of federal careers is to deliver on a mission, whether it’s providing emergency housing, protecting our environment, developing science and technology, or protecting the homeland.

In addition, there are many perks to federal jobs.  Federal jobs include more generous healthcare, vacation, holidays and sick time, life insurance, pensions, training, job security and work/life balance than many private sector jobs.

Also, according to the White House: Improving the Federal Workforce report, not only is the federal government the largest employer in the U.S., its workforce of more than 2 million is getting older. The percentage of federal workers age 55 or older has steadily grown in the last decade and the percentage of workers older than 55 in the federal government is higher than in the private sector.

Because applying for a federal job is a bit different that the private sector, we have put together the top 3 ways to apply for a federal job:

1. Understand the nuances of a federal job application

Once you know what to expect when filling out a federal job application, you’ll be better equipped to succeed. The key differences between a private sector job applications and a government applications include:

  • The amount of information required about job candidates.
  • The use of occupational questionnaires.
  • The benefit of veterans’ preference.
  • A federal resume is usually longer than a civilian resume — 4 to 6 pages is not uncommon or unexpected. 
  • A job posting is called a “job announcement” or “vacancy” in the federal government space.

Woman Applying Online2. Go to these niche websites to apply

  • gov is the granddaddy of federal job search applications as it is the is the Federal Government’s official one-stop source for Federal jobs and employment information.
  • The AARP best places to work if over 50 report cites several federal agencies as great places to target in your search.
  • The National Older Workers Center is a staffing firm that specializes in providing government agencies with skilled and experienced workers.

3. Apply immediately, but VERY carefully

Competition is stiff, so apply immediately when you find a position that you are qualified for.

We recommend that you carefully read the How to Apply section of the job announcement before starting your application so that you are fully prepared to respond completely. This section tells you what is required to apply, including any required documents. To have your application considered, be sure to meet each of the requirements specified.  It’s the government and they are sticklers!

After you begin the application (and your resume and documents are uploaded and complete), the system will take you from USAJOBS to the agency online application system.

Then, you may be required to complete other agency-specific required steps such as:

  • Providing more personal information.
  • Providing additional documentation.
  • Answering eligibility questions.
  • Completing an occupational questionnaire.

The time it takes to apply varies and depends on the job and the agency’s requirements. Allow yourself at least an hour, maybe a little longer if you are new to the process.

So, if you’re looking for a job that often offers a sense of purpose and numerous perks, the federal government is a huge employer and there are a ton of opportunities to pursue.  Where else can you find one employer that carries out a range of functions that effections millions of people?

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

― John F. Kennedy


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