How to Land a Federal Job: Part 1

IMG_8158There are many steps that one has to take to land a federal job, from figuring out how to navigate and utilize the not-so-user-friendly website, deciphering which jobs to apply to, putting the right information into your resume, and figuring out exactly how to present yourself when and if you reach the interview stage. It can be so difficult and overwhelming that it has scared off many potential applicants. But, you don’t need to be one of those people. Over the next few months I will present to you a walk through series that should help you figure out how to navigate the website, utilize the tools, figure out which jobs you should be applying to, and also show you how to tailor your resume to specific jobs. All of which should make landing a federal job that much simpler.

Using USAJobs Tools

When you first log on to USAJobs, you will see many buttons and many options. These tips should help you not only make sense of the website, but also to be able to use it to your advantage.

Advanced Search

A simple search of the word “forestry” brought me about 700 results. I think I can be pretty confident in saying that most people do not have the time to sort through 700 results. That is where the advanced search comes in. It can be used to narrow jobs down to location, agency, pay grade, job series, work schedule or any combination of the above. Don’t worry, we will go over what each of those means in the near future.

Saved Searches/Alerts

Once you have added in all the criteria you are looking for in a job, you can save the search. Now every time you visit the website you can just click on the saved search to see any new jobs that have opened instead of reentering the search criteria.

You can create up to ten saved searches. This can be extraordinarily helpful when searching for jobs. For example, I have saved search for winter jobs, jobs close to home, and permanent jobs.

Another feature that is helpful about saved searches is that you can set up email alerts that will let you know every time a job becomes available that fits your criteria.

Saved Jobs

While you are looking at your saved searches, you may see multiple jobs that you would like to apply for. Instead of applying for each one individually and pressing the back button multiple times, you can just go through the list and save all that seem interesting to you.

You can than revisit your list of saved jobs and apply to them from there. The list is sorted chronologically by the date that the job will stop taking applications. That makes it simple to apply to jobs in the order that need to be applied in. Also, you will receive an email alert reminding you on the day of if a job you have saved is closing. All postings will automatically delete themselves from the list after you have applied.

Saved documents

With this tool you can save all the required documentation needed (transcripts, cover letters, resumes, etc…) so you aren’t constantly scanning and uploading them. Every job application will begin with the option to attach the saved documents to the application package. Saving your documents will save you a lot of time and make applying to federal jobs that much simpler.

Application Status

With this tool you can see where your application sits in the process. One of the key words to look for here is “referred.” If you have been referred, now might be the time to shoot the hiring manager a quick email letting them know that you are still interested in the position. From my personal experience, sending the hiring manager an email has gotten me an interview 80% of the time, while only 10% of the time have I received an interview where no email was sent. It may seem simple, but this something that really helps when applying for federal jobs. If your application status says “not referred,” it means you are no longer being considered for the position and that you should continue your search.