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How to Apply for Federal Government Jobs

Federal jobs are listed by Federal Government agencies in vacancy announcements published in various journals, web sites, directories, databases, mailing lists and hotlines.

Each Federal job vacancy should include;

  • the announcement number
  • the description of the position
  • the requirements
  • the deadline to apply
  • the series/grade
  • the salary range
  • the promotion potential
  • the basis for rating
  • application guidelines such as format (OF 612, resume, etc..), resume guidelines and KSA questions.
The Federal Government hiring process being pretty strict, not respecting the rules and deadlines listed in the vacancy will get you irremediably disqualified, even if you are the most qualified candidate.  Not only is a specially-tailored Federal Jobs resume important, but an appropriate cover letter as well. 

Some Federal Government Jobs, such as sensitive Department of Defense or FBI jobs require a candidate to pass a polygraph test prior to hiring - check out our strategies and tips on how to pass a polygraph test.

Check out our latest offer - 100+ Cover Letter Examples for less than $20.

Federal Job Sites

While it is recommended to check government agencies' websites for more information, here are a few sites that list vacancies for Federal jobs:

Federal Resume Writing

 

KSA Definition

A KSA (Knowledge, Skills &  Abilities) is a series of narrative statements that accompany Federal resumes when applying to Federal job openings. An important factor in the hiring process, a KSA is used to determine who are the best applicants, when several candidates qualifiy for the job.

Knowledge refers to an organized body of information usually of a factual or procedural nature
which, if applied, makes adequate performance on the job possible.
Skills refer to the — mental, manual or verbal — manipulation of data, things or people.
Abilities refer to the ability to perform a mental or physical activity at the present time.

Selective and Quality ranking factors

You must be above the job announcement's minimum educational and experience requirements — or selective factors — to be eligible for a Federal position. However, you can get a higher grade if you meet or exceed quality ranking factors, which will demonstrate that you are a good match for the job.

KSA Scoring

A KSA is usually rated with a scoring system, from 1 to 10

KSA Answers

KSA's feature the answers to 3 to 10 questions that must showcase in details how your profile fits the requirements of the job opening.

It should include any of the following elements, as long as they're relevant to show that you meet — exceed — the requirements and factors listed in the Federal job posting:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Experience
  • Awards
  • Volunteer work, activities, etc..

KSA questions — or ranking factors — can vary in themes, from demonstrating organizational skills, project management skills and supervisory skills to the ability to use certain software.

KSA Format

Unless stated otherwise, each KSA answer shouldn't be longer than one page and should include:

  • Job title
  • Annoucement number
  • Applicant's name
  • KSA number

KSA Writing

Written in the first narrative person, KSA answers must sound personal, from your own voice, while being grammatically correct.

KSA Help

Because KSA statements are so specific, writing them yourself will require several hours of fastidious homework, with the risk of not delivering a satisfactory document — content-wise or format-wise — being high.

With years of experience, we recommend instead using professional certified KSA writers who will make this complicated task easy.

[ Sample Cover Letters ]  [ Military Resume Example ]  [ Military Transition ]


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Federal Government Pay Scale

The federal government pay scale is laid out in the GS (General Schedule).

The GS was designed to keep Federal government salaries on a par for all federal jobs throughout the various Federal agencies.

The GS is divided into 15 grades and each grade has 10 levels. There used to be 3 GS "supergrades" GS-16, GS-17 and GS-18. These were replaced by the (SES) Senior Executive Service.

The following is a BASE Pay Scale For Positions (2006)

Note: U.S. locations also receive additional pay adjustment above the base pay ranging from 12.64% to 30.34%.

Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
1 16630 17185 17739 18289 18842 19167 19713 20264 20286 20798
2 18698 19142 19761 20286 20512 21115 21718 22321 22924 23527
3 20401 21081 21761 22441 23121 23801 24481 25161 25841 26521
4 22902 23665 24428 25191 25954 26717 27480 28243 29006 29769
5 25623 26477 27331 28185 29039 29893 30747 31601 32455 33309
6 28562 29514 30466 31418 32370 33322 34274 35226 36178 37130
7 31740 32798 33856 34914 35972 37030 38088 39146 40204 41262
8 35151 36323 37495 38667 39839 41011 42183 43355 44527 45699
9 38824 40118 41412 42706 44000 45294 46588 47882 49176 50470
10 42755 44180 45605 47030 48455 49880 51305 52730 54155 55580
11 46974 48540 50106 51672 53238 54804 56370 57936 59502 61068
12 56301 58178 60055 61932 63809 65686 67563 69440 71317 73194
13 66951 69183 71415 73647 75879 78111 80343 82575 84807 87039
14 79115 81752 84389 87026 89663 92300 94937 97574 100211 102848
15 93063 96165 99267 102369 105471 108573 111675 114777 117879 120981

The qualifications needed for each job are described in detail in the vacancy announcements that advertise job openings. Each job also has a code that corresponds to its minimum requirements. Understanding these codes will speed your search. Most federal positions require resumes in order to apply. They may require the OF 612, Resumix or the SES depending on the position and the job announcement.

Gaining work experience will often qualify you for higher GS levels. A rule of thumb is, 1 year of experience related to the job could raise your grade by one GS level in most clerical and technician positions.

In administrative, professional, and scientific positions, GS level increases in increments of two until you reach a GS-12. After that, GS level increases one level at a time.

GS levels by education

  • GS-1: No high school diploma
  • GS-2 (GS-3 for clerk-steno positions): High school diploma
  • GS-3: 1 year of full-time study after high school
  • GS-4: Associate degree or 2 years of full-time study after high school
  • GS-5 or GS-7: depending on agency policy and applicant's academic credentials Bachelor's degree or
4 years of full-time study after high school
  • GS-7: Bachelor's degree plus 1 year of full-time graduate study
  • GS-9(GS-11 for some research positions): Master's degree or 2 years of full-time graduate study
  • GS-9: Law degree (J.D. or LL.B.)
  • GS-11(GS-12 for some research positions): PhD. or equivalent doctorate or advanced law deg

When applying for a federal position, you must be totally aware of what GS level is being asked for, Know exactly what you qualify for and make sure that your resume is written in the exact format required by the agency you are applying for.


 

Resumix

An automated scanning software used to ease and improve the Federal recruitment process both for the recruiters and the applicants, Resumix is now the hiring tool of choice for agencies such as the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the Department of Commerce.

What it means for applicants is that they will have to use an online resume builder to submit their information, which will not only reduce the number of application forms but also eliminate the need for separate KSA answers, in some cases.

Whether they make the cut or not, the scanned resumes will be added to a database, giving to job seekers the option to use the same Resumix resume to apply to other openings within the agency, thanks to the easy self-nomination process.

However, applicants interested in applying to different government agencies will need to go through different online Resumix builders, as requirements slightly vary from one agency to the other: for example the Army Resumix is restricted to 3 pages while the Navy Resumix allows 5 pages.

Because Resumix matches the skills of the applicants against the skills listed in the announcement to identify the best candidates, your Federal Resumix resume must include all the relevant keywords, otherwise your application won't even be seen by the hiring manager.

Much faster than a manual ranking of candidates, Resumix only replaces human involvement in the first step of the hiring process, since resumes extracted from the database will be reviewed by supervisors before proceeding with interviews.

What are Behavior Based Interviews?  More Information.
More
Behavior-Based Interview Questions and Guidelines
Interview Tips for
Clear Communications

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Federal Government Jobs - Tips and advice on how to find a Federal Job

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Interview Questions - Prepare for the typical corporate job interview questions
Communications - Get some advice and tips from the pros on how to communicate better

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