The Boston College Career Center Presents GOVERNMENT CAREERS: Top Ten Tips for Finding and Applying to your Federal Dream Job or Internship
INTRODUCTION • The federal government is an excellent employer • The process is different from other job searches • Here are tips to help you
AREAS COVERED • Best Resources • Find the Agency • Find the Job • Find the Internship • The Application: Resume, KSAs, Contact • Clearance
BEST RESOURCES • Making the Difference – comprehensive user-friendly site on federal work: http://makingthedifference.org/index.shtml • Gateway to the U.S. government: http://www.usa.gov/ (see Agency A to Z index) • Federal job listing site: http://www.usajobs.gov/ • Federal jobs for students: http://www.studentjobs.gov/
FIND THE JOB TIP #1: There are more than 160 federal agencies under the Executive Branch. USAjobs.gov and Studentjobs.gov are large databases. Navigate with search/sort functions tailored to your skills and interests. Here’s how: Resources: • www.usa.gov • http://www.usajobs.gov/EI23.asp • http://www.makingthedifference.org/federalinternships/ • http://www.studentjobs.gov/e-scholar.asp
FIND THE INTERNSHIP TIP #2: There are several different kinds of internships. • STEP (Student Training and Employment Program): Any student, especially 1st years and sophomores, any field; short term paid internship. • SCEP (Student Career Experience Program): Primarily juniors, seniors, and graduate students; must be related to academic studies; most are paid; after completing 640 hours of successful work, you may be appointed to a permanent position without going through the traditional hiring process. • FCIP(Federal Career Intern Program): Not really an internship: 2-year, entry level full time professional development position. • PMF (Presidential Management Fellows Program): For students in final year of graduate study - apply in early fall with your school’s nomination; highly prestigious 2-year position with rotational assignments.
THE APPLICATION RESUME Federal resumes do not have the same structure as resumes used in other marketplaces. TIP #3: Understand the resume template prior to applying. TIP #4: The first application screening step is often electronic. USE KEYWORDS adapted from the job/internship description. No one will see that great resume if it gets stopped at the first screen! Resources: http://www.makingthedifference.org/federaljobs/usajobsresume.shtml http://www.usajobs.gov/infocenter/
THE APPLICATION KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) • Most postings list a set of position-relevant KSAs. Applicants create essays describing how they meet these job requirements. TIP #5: KSAs are critical. Use the recommended CCAR (Context, Challenges, Action, Result) format to compose them. TIP #6: Be specific, use relevant examples, write in clear language, include KEYWORDS in your text. • Resources: • http://www.makingthedifference.org/federaljobs/ksa.shtml • http://www.makingthedifference.org/federaljobs/ksawriting.shtml • http://www.usajobs.gov/infocenter/
THE APPLICATION CONTACT You actually can follow up! Wait 10-15 working days, then call or write. Show patience, enthusiasm, professionalism; do not “stalk” the contact. TIP #7: Contact information – a person’s name and phone number – is often found at the bottom of the job listing. A “processing center” makes follow-up more difficult but not impossible. Tip #8: By law all federal jobs must be publicly posted. Short posting periods could (but not always) indicate a strong internal candidate. Longer postings could mean budgetary continuance or a call for a large cadre of new hires over time.
CLEARANCE • Most government job offers are not final until the candidate has passed a thorough clearance – or background check – process. Tip #9: The clearance process can last a few weeks or several months, depending on the position. Have patience, be truthful. Tip #10: Many federal positions have strict clearance requirements; drug use, criminal activity, or other infractions can be grounds for automatic disqualification. THIS IS A SERIOUS MATTER. Failing a clearance once makes it extremely unlikely to pass at a later date.