USAJobs.OPM.Gov – One of the best ways to really determine the right types of federal jobs for you is to search and research vacancy announcements. In the corporate world these are the same as job postings. They contain detailed job descriptions as well as the requirements as far as duties, skills, knowledge, abilities and accomplishments.
We’ll get into evaluating how the position fits you but first let’s crack the code when reading job/vacancy announcements.
Let’s look at the most critical elements of a job announcement:
AGENCY: You’ll see the agency name and office of the job at the top of the announcement. That gives you some hints about the job when you know the mission of the agency and their customers. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
JOB TITLE: It is the title of the job. Federal Job Titles don’t always mean the same thing as they do in corporate or private sector job titles. For example a technical writer is typically known as someone that writes documents for technical systems, and is related to technology.
However, in government, a technical writer will cover a number of topics, depending on the agency and mission. In many cases, the title will be familiar but because government has its own descriptions and titles some job titles may be deceiving. You’ll have to read further into the announcement to find out if it is what you were actually researching. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
GRADE: The grade info specifies the job series (what type of occupation class) and the level of the position as it relates to the government pay scales. For example, GS-1701-09 is a GS position, classified in the 1700 series, According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) GS-1700 is the EDUCATION GROUP which includes positions that involve administering, managing, supervising, performing, or supporting education or training work when the paramount requirement of the position is knowledge of, or skill in, education, training, or instruction processes. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
USAJobs.OPM.Gov – Series in this group are: GS-1701 – General Education and Training Series, GS-1702 – Education and Training Technician Series and so on. Salary Range: In the same example, GS-1709-09, the last two digits tell the position level which determines the salary range. For GS 9 level positions in that series (1700) the salary ranges from $$42,995-$55,846. These will vary from position to position. Some agencies use a different pay scale from the GS tables and some positions pay premiums for in demand roles.
ANNOUNCEMENT NUMBER: The tracking number the government uses to uniquely identify each position
CLOSING DATE: There will often be a firm date but some jobs are also listed as “open continuously” or you might even find a closing date that is out a year or two. That means they are building the candidate database and as they hire they will find you in their records. The hiring may or may not be immediate. The HR specialist for the position may know this information. I’ll talk more about that later. But know that you must meet your deadline for closing date. There is one exception, but that will not apply to most of you reading this. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
JOB LOCATION: Some jobs are specific to one location, and often there are a number of locations where positions are available. In either case, make sure you are willing to work in the geographic location specified and make sure you can apply if you are outside of the geographic location of the position. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES: The announcement will tell you if KSAs are required to be written separately or if they are to be included in your resume. In my experience it is best to express the KSAs in both your resume and separate KSA statement when required. When you read the KSAS, there may be one that seems like there is no way you can show that you have that kind of experience. As a KSA writer and federal process expert, I can tell you from experience that there are cases where we have overcome that hurdle with clients. However, if there’s more than one KSA that you feel you would have trouble demonstrating your experience, results and accomplishments, then you are likely to have trouble ranking high enough to get referred. I’ll explain that part too, when I get to the hiring process. For now, I just want you to get familiar with the announcements and start reading them. Writing KSAs is not fun for most people and they do have to be written in specific narrative form, to meet the requirements of the position. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
DUTIES: Now we’re getting to the real meat. The actual description of duties that will be required to do the job. You must demonstrate in your resume that you can and ideally have performed the required duties of the position. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
USAJobs.OPM.Gov – QUALIFICATIONS: This is a biggie. Read the qualifications very carefully to determine if you have the qualifications that are required. Sometimes, clients come to me wondering why they are not getting any results from after applying for a number of government jobs. Upon review, I notice that they are not the best qualified for the positions that they are applying for. Or, that they are qualified but those qualifications are not clearly stated in their resume in the way the HR specialists would easily understand.
This is not the time for a career change unless you clearly have demonstrated this experience elsewhere or earlier in your career. Be sure you select jobs you are qualified for.
HOW TO APPLY: Read the instructions. The usual application requires a federal resume, maybe KSAs, performance evaluation, DD214 (if former military), transcripts. If other documents are required they will be specified in the instructions to apply. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
Once you have an idea that some jobs may be right for you, dig a little deeper next time into ‘Core Competencies” and then The Federal Hiring Process before we look at writing the Federal Resume, KSAs and submitting your application. Here’s Some Homework to Get You Started: Find some announcements that appeal to you, that you think you may qualify. Study the announcements. Set up a job search agent on http://USAjobs.com to find similar jobs. USAJobs.OPM.Gov
By Dr. Daphne Houston
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