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What is the limit of how many applications for Federal Jobs I can send in?

Dear Advisor,

What is the best use of my Federal job search time: quality or quantity? I see the job listings on the site are long and complex. Most are multiple pages. What is to be gained by wading through all that boiler plate. Maybe my application could be a bit more on target, if I read all that stuff. On the other hand is not my Federal job hunting time better spent filling out more application forms? The more applications I file the better my chances of receiving a good offer. So which is to be preferred more precise applications or more numerous applications? And, finally is there a limit to how many applications I can make?

J. E,
Dover, NY

Dear J.E.,

There is no limit to the number of applications for Federal employment you can file. Now letís examine the more important question, what is the best use of your time? You didnít say what level of job you are seeking. This can have an important bearing on your question. Generally the higher the salary, the more precise the application needs to be. Your chances of landing a high-level job without a resume that is right on-target are slim.

Two reasons explain this. One has to do with the number of competitors for a given opening and the other with the nature of higher versus lower level jobs
While there is no strict rule that says high salary jobs attract more applications than lower paying jobs, that is usually the case. To beat the competition for high level jobs your resume must address the exact requirements of the job better than the next person does. On the other hand in the lower grade levels, in certain occupations and locations, the supply of candidates is low. These jobs sometimes face a shortage of applicants.

GS-7 and Below
When and where these candidate shortages develop is difficult to predict. The candidate supply varies greatly by occupation, location and season. However, as a rule shortages at GS-7 and below are more common than at GS-9 and above. At GS-9 and above the pool of candidates includes both new comers to Federal service and those seeking promotion.

At GS-7 and below you should put together a good, sound resume and then spend your time using it to file for as many vacancies as you can. Try to file 4 or 5 applications a week until you get an offer. You will be trying to hit the right set of circumstance: a job that fits your interests and skills, in a suitable location that will come open when you need it, and for which there is an immediate, not an ďanticipatedĒ opening.

Development vs Advanced Positions
Almost all jobs at GS-7 (or in the blue collar area at the apprentice level) and below are developmental positions. You are hired for your potential as well as your skills. Consequently you are expected to file a resume that presents your skills and a good work or educational background.

As you gain work experience you are expected to move from a more generalize set of skills to more specific, that is, to skills more targeted to a given job. Thatís why for a high level position you need to study the vacancy announcement carefully and show that you have the targeted skills required.

Job Qualifications
The higher the level of the job, the more likely the job will have unique qualifications. Lower level jobs have more general qualifications. In either case you need to study the vacancy announcement sufficiently to know what the qualifications are for the kind of job you want. In the case of the lower level job you can assume that many jobs will have similar qualifications. Do a good job of responding to those qualifications and you will have a resume that can serve for many openings.

In the case of a high level job you will need to study the announcement to identify the unique qualifications for that particular job and respond to them. The next vacancy announcement in the same occupation may have very different unique qualifications. Thatís why each resume for upper level jobs has to be tailored to the job. If you do not do that and your competitor does, who do you think will get the offer?

Another way to look at the difference between upper and lower level jobs is to consider the degree of specilization. For the most part, the higher the level, the more specialized the job. You need to show on your resume for these higher level jobs that you have identified and mastered the specializations in question. These specializations vary from opening to opening. That's why you need to focus accurately on each vacancy. Lower level jobs are more general. And so vacancies tend to be more similar.

Application Instructions
A section of all vacancy announcements, for higher or lower level jobs, that you can not afford to overlook is the section that presents the filing instructions. This section includes a list of the documents the examiner may wish to see included with your Federal resume. For example, sometimes a transcript of your school record is requested. If you do not include your transcript, your application will receive a lower rating. Other times a special application form may be requested. You will need to obtain this form (they can be completed on line. ).

Federal Resume
In addition to including your qualifications, you need to make sure that your resume contains the required information. This site contains a Federal Resume builder. You can use it to create a Federal Resume that will cover all of the bases.

A Job In Itself
No question looking for a job is a job. Given its importance, job-hunting is a job that must be done and done well. When it is, you will be rewarded with a good-paying, secure position. So for the lower paying positions, go with volume. For the higher paying, go with in-depth quality and as much volume as you can handle.

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