The Federal government application process is confusing. Once an applicant finds a job on www.usajobs.gov (which lists most of the jobs available for Federal jobs), it is confusing for the applicant to determine if they are qualified for a job. This article highlights the steps required to read these announcements.
Once a job announcement is found, a potential applicant needs to determine the application requirements to be sure they meet the job requirements PRIOR to applying for a job. If an applicant does not meet the requirements, they will not be hired. A companion checklist can be used for an applicant to use to ensure they have followed the 8 steps.
First, the announcement will indicate who may apply. If it is the Public, generally all US Citizens can apply for the job. If it is Status Candidates Only, one must read the announcement carefully to determine who is eligible. Generally, in this case, federal government employees, military spouses or veterans who have separated in the past 3 years or who are eligible for veteran preference points may be considered a Status Candidate. If it says Agency Employees Only and the applicant is not currently employed as a civil servant in that agency; the applicant is not eligible to apply. If it is federal government employees only, and the applicant does not work for the federal government, you are not eligible to apply.
Second, the announcement will indicate the date the announcement closes. Application materials must be submitted according the instructions in the announcement by the closing date (and sometimes closing time). The announcement will detail how to submit materials – it is announcement specific. Depending on the announcement, an applicant may be required to file online, by fax, by email, by hand delivery or by mail. An applicant must have enough time to meet the application deadlines.
Third, the position will indicate salary and grade level. Grade levels for jobs indicate the management level within the government – and the level of responsibility.
Based on experience, veterans retiring at the E-7 level generally qualify for positions at the GS-9 level. O-3 professionals generally qualify at the GS-11 or 12 level, depending on area of their expertise. O-5/6 professionals can qualify for GS-14/15 or SES positions. SES corresponds to General/Admiral in the Military.
For non-military professionals – GS-7/9 is entry level with a BS degree. GS-11, 12 and 13 indicate various levels of expertise in an area, with GS-13 corresponding to a very senior non-managerial level or junior manager level. GS-14/15 corresponds to Senior Manager/Director level in large companies. SES positions correspond to Sr. Director/VP level positions – or even CIO positions in large companies. A BS Degree for jobs (other than security) generally qualifies one for a GS-7, MS Degree – GS-9, PhD – GS-11. For some security jobs, a BS Degree only qualifies one as a GS-5.
An applicant needs to be sure they are applying for the right level. Too high or too low will result in rejection.
Fourth, the announcement will list the job duties – in most cases. A potential applicant should read the duties carefully – they contain the keywords required for the job. In general, the resumes selected for further consideration contain these keywords, with dynamic statements showing how the applicant has experience doing the duties required for the job. When an applicant reads an announcement, they should ask themselves whether they have done that particular function previously AND if they have any demonstrated success in doing the function. If an applicant has not done most of the duties (especially the first ones listed), they are not a good candidate for the position. If the announcement lists specific TECHNICAL items, the applicant should have experience in those technical areas.
Fifth, the announcement will list the background requirements. For Federal jobs, unlike Civilian jobs, an applicant’s background MUST match the stated requirements for the job. For example, if a degree is stated as required, it is required. If certification, including DAWAI contracting certification, is stated as a requirement, it is required. If no candidates apply that meet the requirements, the agency will cancel the announcement and rewrite and repost the position again. By law, the Federal government cannot fill the position with an applicant who does not specifically meet all the background requirements listed.
Sixth, the announcement may indicate if KSAs or other essays, including Selective Preference Factors, Technical Qualifications or Professional Qualifications are required. In addition, the announcement may indicate that multiple choice questions also will need to be answered. Generally, but not always, the Resumix formats do not require separate KSAs.
Note, if the announcement is for some online formats, including QuickHire or USAJOBS, the KSAs or other questions will not be in the actual announcement. Instead, they are found during the application process. In order to find the vacancy questions, an applicant may need to start the application just to find the KSA or other questions. For AVUE announcements, not all KSAs are asked at all levels, and again, an application needs to be started just to find out the required KSAs. An applicant needs to check the announcement PRIOR to deciding to apply, since the questions are screen out questions. If you cannot answer most of the questions (and all of the KSAs or other essay questions) in the affirmative, it does not make sense to apply for the announcement.
If an announcement has KSAs, they must be written. A potential applicant should read each KSA and ask themselves if they have any experience or background in the question being asked. If not, the announcement may not be the right one to apply for.
Seventh, the announcement will indicate how to apply. If the announcement indicates a resume or OF-612 is acceptable for application, a paper resume will need to be developed. Lately, even paper resume formats have changed in requirements (such as page length and information required). An applicant must follow all directions or risk having their application denied.
If an online format is required, generally a link or an “Apply Online” button is shown on the announcement. Clicking on the link or button will bring the user to the agency’s website with further instructions on how to apply for the job. There are many different online formats, including Army Resumix, Navy Resumix, AVUE, QuickHire, USAJobs and others. It is complicated, and the requirements for these formats change regularly.
Eighth, the announcement may indicate other documentation is required. Carefully read each announcement and send the information required in the method it is asked to be sent in (online upload, fax, email or mail). If it