Why the sequester may present an
opportunity in finding Federal jobs
I have been planning to apply for a Federal job for some time. One thing or
another caused me to delay. Now I am hearing that the Federal government
suddenly has less money to spend on everything including new employees. Do these
budget problems mean that I have little hope of landing a Federal job at least
until the fiscal issues are solved? This is just my luck. I understand thousands
have been hired in the last year alone. Why did I wait?
You are not out-of-luck. In fact, you may be in luck. First letís answer the
question, are Federal jobs still open? Ok, it's true, the sequester has taken
some Federal money off the table. However, it is only a very small part of the
total Federal budget. Hereís why hiring must continue. People quit, retire,
become sick. Many, some would say most, Federal jobs are critical. These
vacancies must be filled. Thatís why even now that the sequester is in place
thousands of Federal jobs remain open.
An Opportunity For You
Hereís the good luck part. Many people, like you, have heard about the
sequester. They believe that it means the Federal government will not be hiring,
or will be hiring far less people than in the past. So they decide, just as you
were about to decide, not to apply. Therefore, those who do apply will have less
competition than normal.
Fewer competitors mean a smaller applicant pool. That, in turn, means the
applicants who do apply have a better chance of selection. Another benefit is
that because the HR people have fewer candidates, the whole process will move
more quickly. You could well be selected within weeks instead of months
depending on your occupation and the Agency to which you are applying.
So take heart. The sequester may well benefit you after all. At the very least
you have nothing to lose by applying. Put your effort into creating a great
Federal resume instead of worrying about your chances of being hired. Letís
spend the rest of this column helping you create that great resume.
This site includes a
Federal resume checklist
. By all means refer to it and make sure that your
resume meets the requirements.
The key to the resume is the job experience section. This should be more
than just a factual recitation of your work history, although it should include
dates, salaries, promotions, supervisorís names and phone numbers. This section
needs to sell you.
To sell yourself successfully in this section you need to refer to the Vacancy
Announcement of the job for which you are applying. Carefully study the Basic
Qualifications and show that you have these qualifications. Show that you have
used these skills, abilities or knowledge on a previous job and have been
successful at it.
Of course, you want to achieve the highest rating you can based on your past
work experience and education. To do this you need to know what knowledge is
required at each of the grades in the occupations of interest to you. This
information is contained in a document called the ďGeneral Schedule Position
Classification StandardsĒ. This work published by the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management. For every occupation and for every grade within that occupation a
standard of knowledge is written. You can see this
By looking up the occupation of interest to you, you
can see the standards that will be applied to your resume. Write the experience
blocks of your resume to show that you meet the highest standard possible.
Usually you will not be a competitive candidate if you meet the Basic
Qualifications only. You must show that you can also meet some or all of the
advanced qualifications. These are also listed in the Vacancy Announcement. The
heading varies. Sometimes the section is called Ranking Factors, other times
Advanced Placement or Selection Criteria or KSAís. Whatever it is called try to
show that you have demonstrated these qualification on past jobs.
If the Selection Criteria specifies knowledge of certain software, certain
production processes, such-and-such industry standards or codes, whatever the
criteria try to show that you have the relevant skill, ability or knowledge and
have demonstrated them on your last job.
What Not To Say
Some people believe that more is merrier and therefore the applicant should
include on the resume every bit of knowledge, skill or ability he or she has.
Unless this information is relevant to the job, it will not help and may hurt. A
recruitment specialist reviewing the resume may conclude that the applicant is
wasting his time with irrelevant information.
Tell The Truth
In a recent case before the Merit System Protection Broad, which is a court
where disputes between Federal managers and employees are heard, an employee was
accused of falsifying his Federal resume. The manager claimed that the employee
misrepresented himself on his resume and was hired on the basis of having skills
he did not have. The employee claimed that he represented himself fairly, but
was a little rusty on some of the skills he did claim. The employee lost the
case and was dismissed.
There is an important difference between selling yourself and misrepresenting.
You want to do the former. But donít claim to have skills you do not have.
Instead describe all the relevant experience you do have. Be detailed and
specific. Show results and point with pride. You will be given every opportunity
to succeed sequester or no sequester.
To submit questions to the Federal Jobs Advisor, write to: Federal Jobs
Advisor, Federal Jobs Digest, 1503 Radcliff Court, Newtown Square PA 19073. We
regret that not all questions may be answered. ē