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Has the government reduced hiring? Are Federal jobs still available?

Dear Advisor,

Congress does not seem to be able to make up its collective mind on any financial matter. Does this mean the Federal budget will be late and that as a result Federal hiring will drop off? I know that I have outstanding job skills, because every employer I’ve worked for told me so. My skills include Computer Specialist, Computer Operations, Office Automation, Data Base Management, Secretary, call the job what you will, I have the job skills to do it. What’s more I have a great work record. Very little job hopping. Highly reliable performance, and a solid record of promotion and job awards. Now I want to work for the Federal government, because of the job security and benefits. I have selected several Federal Agencies in my area that would be right for me and sent them each a personalized letter.

Two did not respond at all. The third sent me some brochures on the Agency, including an OF-612 application form. But no personalized reply. No offers. No indication of interest. No invitation to call for an interview.

What gives? Can’t the Federal government recognize a good worker when it sees one? Or, are there just no jobs?

Chicago IL

Dear Patrick,

Quite probably the Federal government will be hiring fewer workers in the next several years than it has in the past. However, thousands, indeed, tens of thousands of jobs will still be filled. Many thousands of workers are scheduled to retire in the next few years. This is because the Federal workforce is older than the U.S. workforce as a whole. Many of these retiring workers do essential jobs. They will have to be replaced. So, while there is likely to be less hiring, you can be sure that Federal jobs are still plentiful. Many thousands of new hires will be made every year. And there’s no reason you can’t be one of them. Now let’s consider your approach to getting one of those jobs.

The job hunting approach you describe may well work in the private sector, especially in the small business arena. It does not work in the Federal government. The difference is that in the private sector the employer does the job-matching. The job candidate simply submits his resume for consideration and the employer figures out which of his openings may be right for the candidate. However, in Federal service the reverse occurs. The job candidate must do the job-matching. The job candidate must tell the Federal employer which specific opening, among the ten thousand or so that are open at any given time, he wants.

Consequently, it does no good to simply send in a resume and expect the Federal employer, the Federal HR office as you put it, to find an opening that fits. The candidate must actually write the announcement number of the vacancy for which he is applying on his application, whether it’s a Federal resume or other form. Failure to identify the job vacancy will, almost always, result in the application going no farther. This is because without a job vacancy against which to measure the candidate, there is no objective standard to apply to him.

Private Sector vs Federal
Private sector employers are in a position to create job standards on the fly. When a great resume comes across the desk of a small businessman, for example, he may well create a job that fits the job candidate’s skills. “Come in to see us. You sound just right for a new job we’ve been thinking about called Computer Operations Supervisor.” Viola!, a new job title is born.

In another scenario the private sector recruiter may have three openings. He or she has no trouble considering job candidates for all three positions even without the job candidate specifically requesting such consideration.

None of this works in the Federal sector, because job standards cannot be created on the fly, and because Federal recruiters cannot apply a candidate for a vacancy except at the job candidate’s express request.

Job standards can take months to develop and more months to be approved. Some time ago the Office of Personnel Management developed new job standards for positions in the information technology job series. This process, now complete, took many months to work through the system.

So What’s The Trade Off
The Federal government’s recruitment process may not be as flexible as the process in the private sector, but it is more objective. Standards that apply to one candidate apply in exactly the same way to all others. Nobody gets a special break. But nobody is unfairly overlooked either.

What you need to do to make this process work for you is obtain Vacancy Announcements of the job openings at the three Federal Agencies in your area. These can be obtained on this site, through the Federal Agency’s webpage, bulletin board, or job phone line.

Study these Vacancy Announcements. You must decide which of these jobs is right for you. Then apply. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Federal Resumes . Very importantly, write the announcement number of the job you are applying for on your Federal resume or application form.

When you have done this screening and preparatory work in a satisfactory way, you will get the response you have been seeking. One of the many new hires that will be made this year, despite the Federal deficit, can be you.

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. •