Federal Job Application


One of the largest potential employers to consider in your job search is the Federal Government. In fact, the United States Government is the largest U.S. employer. According to the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Government’s Human Resources office, 1,777,176 people worked in Federal service as of March 2002. This number does not include the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agencies, Unites States Postal Service and several other large Federal agencies.


Career opportunity is alive and well within the Federal Government. And, from all indications, it will remain so for quite some time. Government jobs are more competitive than ever. Excellent benefits, decent salaries (Federal employees just got a 4.2% increase, and in a down economy), strong job security, flexible work environments that include some telecommuting opportunities, and very good retirement plans make the Federal Government an attractive employer. The OPM projects 281,428 Federal employees will be retiring between fiscal years 2001 and 2005. By all accounts, the Federal Government should not be overlooked in your job search process.


The Federal Government’s “official one-stop source for Federal jobs and employment information,” known as USAJOBS, and available at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov, lists a daily average of 16,000 job vacancies. In addition to Federal job listings, USAJOBS also provides access to some state and local government, and even private sector listings. USAJOBS provides current information, which is updated daily, and is available 24/7. There are several agencies, however, that do not list their vacancies on USAJOBS. For these positions, vacancy, announcement, and additional job information can be obtained directly from the agency website. With this exception, USAJOBS is the most comprehensive source of Federal job and employment information.


The Federal Job Search-A 3-Step Process


USAJOBS has created a 3-Step Process for your job search for Federal career opportunities.


Federal Employment Information System (Step 1 of 3)


The Federal Employment Information System is accessible via USAJOBS. There are several “automated components” within the Federal Employment Information System that offer job seekers a variety of formats to ensure “access for customers with differing physical and technological capabilities.” The USAJOBS official World Wide Web site accessed at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov offers the following automated components:


  • Online Job Search (with ability to apply for jobs online in many cases)
  • Job Announcements Retrieval/Download/Print
  • Online Resume Builder
  • Automated Telephone System
  • Applications and Forms
  • Employment Information Fact Sheets

The Automated Telephone System is an interactive voice response telephone system, which can be reached at (478) 757-3000 or TDD (478) 744-2299. It is designed for job seekers to have access to all of the features available through USAJOBS Internet without requiring a computer. In some instances, job seekers can even apply for jobs by phone with this system.


Obtain the Vacancy Announcement (Step 2 of 3)


Once you have found a vacancy that interests you, the next step of the process is to obtain additional information on the vacancy, including its specific and appropriate application forms. Download and print a copy of the vacancy announcement. This will be your most vital source of information in your Federal job search. The announcement should contain most of the answers to any questions you may have pertaining to the job. Specifically, the information provided in the announcement includes closing/deadline dates for application, specific duties of the position, whether or not a written test is required, educational requirements, duty location, salary, and the application instructions.


Follow the Application Instructions (Step 3 of 3)


Every Federal vacancy announcement contains a section titled “How to Apply,” or Application Instructions.” If you do not follow these instructions, your application will never make it to the hiring agency for consideration.


For most Federal jobs, you can apply with a resume. In fact, this is the preferred format by nearly all Federal agencies. However, there is another accepted optional method using the Optional Application for Federal Employment (OF-612). The OF-612 can be retrieved through the link in the previous statement, and is also provided in the Forms and Guides section.


It is important to note that many Federal agencies have their own submission criteria and their own electronic/automated submission procedures. These agencies may have unique requirements including the submission of specialized forms such as Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, Executive Core Qualifications, or other statements that must accompany your application.


While the best source of what to provide in your Federal resume/application is still the Federal form OF 510, included in the Forms and Guides section, below is a summary of what is included in OF 510, direct from USAJOBS: “Whatever application method you select (or is required), it is essential that you follow the instructions for applying that are given in the vacancy announcement and that your application contain the following:”