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Federal Recruiters have tough bosses. Here's how to make the bosses happy!

Dear Advisor,

I have sent off 16 resumes and heard nothing. As an experiment I sent in my resume on a job for which I am way overqualified. I wanted to see if I would at least get a response. Nothing. Not a phone call. Not a letter. What’s up with all the government hiring I keep hearing about in the news?

At this point I have to ask, Is anybody home? Does anybody even read my resumes? I am a computer specialist with 5 years experience in various aspects of data base management. I spent a long time on my resume, and consulted several books on resume writing. What’s more I have sent my resume to several private sector employers and have always been invited for an interview.

So I know my resume is good. I prefer to work for the Federal government. Why no action?

Show me the action,
J. A. H.
Spokane WA

Dear J. A. H.,

Does anybody read. Rest assured every application for a Federal opening that arrives before the official closing date is considered. As mentioned in previous columns omissions in your application may be the problem. Remember every application needs a social security number and the Vacancy Announcement Number of the job for which you are applying. For other required information see “ Federal Resume” on this site. But let’s assume that all the basics are covered. So what else?

Your Recruiter’s Boss
Your Federal recruiter, the examiner who is reviewing your resume, has a very tough boss. He’s a strict “show me” kind of boss who has some tough questions of every applicant. Your recruiter wants to make his tough boss happy. You have to help him do that. If your recruiter gets the impression that you can not help him with his boss, he is going to drop you fast. How do you help your recruiter? You answer his boss’s questions. That means you give him documented evidence, that means evidence on paper, that you can do the job for which you are applying. This should not be difficult for you, because the evidence the boss wants to see are listed in the Vacancy Announcement that advertises every Federal job opening. But the results you have received so far indicate that you are not providing those answers.

Private Sector
You say that your resume brings you good results in terms of getting interviews for private sector jobs. Here now is a major fact you need to realize. Recruitment standards in Federal service are drastically different than they are in the private sector. The private sector recruiter has only one standard to meet—non-discriminatory hiring. As long as his hiring does not show a pattern of discrimination a private sector employer can hire anyone he feels like hiring.

He can hire his relatives, his friends, fellow alumni of his school, people who agree with him politically, his golfing buddies. It’s his business. He does not need documented evidence to support his hiring decisions so long as they are not discriminatory on the basis of race or ethnicity, age, sex, religion, physical handicap. If your Federal recruiter used this standard he would be in very hot water with his boss. Your Federal recruiter can not hire his relatives, friends, the politically connected. He is authorized to hire only the best qualified and he has to be able to prove it.

Don’t Count On the Interview
Interviews generally do not provide documented evidence of qualification. That is why they have far less importance in Federal service than they do in the private sector. A private sector recruiter can say, “I hired this guy because he gave a really great interview. Really handled himself like a pro.” That answer flies in the private sector. It does not fly in Federal service, because the interpretation of interview performance can be subjective. To land a Federal job you have to make your case on paper, not in the interview.

The only way to provide complete documented evidence of your qualification for a given Vacancy is to obtain the full Vacancy Announcement for that opening. On the full Vacancy Announcement you will see listed exactly the skills, knowledge, abilities, licenses, education, work experience, any and all other qualifications for that job. Only then will you know exactly what your Federal recruiter wants to see. What makes this exercise relatively easy is that the Vacancy Announcement gives you the answers you need to pass the screening process. It tells you what qualifications the recruiter needs to see. Your resume needs to show that you have those very same qualifications.

You can obtain the full vacancy announcement by phone, by mail or via the internet. The latter is usually the easiest and fastest way to get the announcement. You can also see the vacancy announcement on thiswebsite.

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. •