Making the Difference
Jobs with the Federal Government
Part 1: Opportunities and Benefits
A Job for Every Interest
Benefits of Government Service
Where the Jobs Are
Part 2: Navigating the Process
How to Search for a Federal Internship or Job
How to Apply for a Federal Internship or Job
Essays & KSAs
What Young Feds Say about Their Jobs
“I am able to make a big difference by working
from within the Government.” (OPM)
“Working for the Government offers me a
level of experience and substantive
knowledge that I could not access in the
private sector at this stage of my career.”
“I work on the most important national security
and humanitarian issues our country faces today
and see real progress towards improving how we
respond to crises.” (DOD)
Making the Difference
Subhashree Madhavan
National Institutes of Health (HHS)
Tobin Bradley
U.S. Department of State
Nicole Nelson-Jean
U.S. Department of Energy
Benefits of Government Service
• Opportunity to make a difference
• Influence the future of our country
• Work/life balance
Benefits of Government Service
Student loan repayment assistance
Some agencies may repay up to $10,000 of your student loans per year
In 2006, 34 agencies provided 5,755 employees with $36 million in assistance
The average loan repayment in 2006 was $6,245
Flexible schedules and generous vacation
Training and professional development
Competitive health and retirement benefits
Excellent advancement opportunities
Federal Pay & Advancement
• General Schedule (GS) is the pay scale for
many Federal jobs from 1-15.
• Varies by geographic location
• Each GRADE has 10 steps, allowing for a
range of salaries
• Within a few years, you can progress
through several grades
General Schedule (GS) Grade Criteria
Qualifying Education
4 academic years above high school leading to a
bachelor’s degree OR a bachelor’s degree
Bachelor’s degree with one of the following:
1) Class standing (upper third of class)
2) 3.0 or higher GPA; 3.5 or higher GPA in major
3) Honor society membership
GS-5 and GS-7
Master’s degree (or equivalent) are considered
“entry level”
Selected 2007 Starting Salaries
Starting salaries for GS-5, GS-7, and GS-9
New York City
San Francisco
Washington, DC
Selected 2007 Starting Salaries
Then, 2-3 years later… possible career progression:
GS-5 GS-5
GS-7 GS-7
GS-9 GS-11
New York City
San Francisco
Washington, DC
Where the Jobs Are: By Location
In addition, over 50,000 people work for the U.S. Government abroad!
Where the Jobs Are: By Occupation
In FY2006, roughly 36,000 people were hired in the Federal
Government at the entry level, GS-5 to GS-7. Here’s how many
of those were hired into the following occupations:
Medical and Public Health
Accounting and Budget
Business and Industry
Engineering and Architecture
Social Science, Psychology, and Welfare
Information Technology
Part 1: Opportunities and Benefits
A Job for Every Interest
Benefits of Government Service
Where the Jobs Are
Part 2: Navigating the Process
How to Search for a Federal Internship or Job
How to Apply for a Federal Internship or Job
Essays & KSAs
Getting Started: Student Programs
Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP)
• traditional internship
• great program for a summer or short term experience
• Any student in enrolled in an accredited degree granting
• typically paid
• length of the experience is set by the agency.
• not required to be posted on or
STEP Example: State Department
Getting Started: Student Programs
Student Career Experience Program (SCEP)
• A student works in an area related to what they are studying.
• A student in enrolled in an accredited degree granting institution
• An agency must form an agreement with the institution the student is attending
• typically paid positions
• students work at least 640 hours (or less depending on academic achievement or prior
• after experience, students are eligible to be hired into an agency non-competitively
• not required to be placed on or
SCEP Example: EPA
Getting Started: Student Programs
Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP)
• individual comes on board, full time, for 2 years.
• the term “Intern” refers to the idea of trying out a position for 2 years
• student who has received a degree from an accredited degree granting
• fulfill the academic and skill based requirements set forth by the agency
• eligible for all salary and benefits of a regular federal employee
• not required to be placed on or
FCIP Examples: FAS and EPA
Getting Started: Student Programs
Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF)
• government’s prestigious fellowship program
• students complete a 2 year rotation within an agency or between agencies
as a full time fellows
• student who has just completed a master’s program.
• apply during the fall of their final year of graduate school
• A candidate must be nominated by their institution.
• For more information:
Where to Start Your Search
School Alumni
Tools for Looking
Search the Partnership’s site job seeker site for resources
and tools
The U.S. Government’s official web portal
• Where the Jobs Are
A Partnership report with government hiring projections
through 2009
The most comprehensive and authoritative rating of
employee satisfaction in the federal government
Where to Look:
Resources include:
• Ten Reasons to Consider
a Federal Career
• Red, White and Blue
Jobs Library: How to
Find Great Jobs in the
Federal Service
• Interest-Specific Career
• Internship Database
• Agency Profiles
• Profiles in Public Service
• Security Clearance
Where to Look:
Where to Look:
Where the Jobs Are
• Outlines projected hiring
needs through 2009
• Covers 99% of the
federal workforce, 34
• 193,000 mission critical
• Presented by agency
and by occupation
Download on:
Where the Jobs Are
Best Places To Work
Where to Look
Your Career Development Center
Popular Job/Internship Search Engines
The Government’s main job website
Find an internship with the Government
Agency websites
Visit the websites of agencies whose missions interest you
Where to Look: USAJOBS
Where to Look: STUDENTJOBS
Where to Look: Agency Sites
Where to Look: Agency Sites
Now let’s search…
Launch the Process at USAJOBS
Search by Various topics
Search by:
•Job Category
•Salary Range
•Pay Grade
Federal Jobs by College Major
Search by Interest
An example:
• Chicago, IL
• Social
and Welfare
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
A vacancy
announcement can
represent multiple
and Evaluation
Don’t forget to follow up.
How to
and Other
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Summary of
organization’s mission
and impact, plus a
brief description of the
job and its key
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Lists major duties and
responsibilities of the
position, adding more
detail to the brief
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Qualifications and Evaluation
Identifies skills and experience
needed for the role and explains
how applications will be
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
Benefits and Other Information
Describes additional elements of
the compensation package or
perks associated with the job
Anatomy of a Vacancy Announcement
How to Apply
Provides step-by-step
instructions on how to
apply and may include
information on when/how
applicants can expect to
hear from the agency
How to Apply
Be careful to follow the
“How to Apply” directions
closely, since they may
differ across agencies
How to Apply
Overview of the Online Process
After selecting the job to which you’d like to apply, there
are usually several steps in the online application
• Create your federal resume
• Answer the questions posed online
• Submit the complete application package by the
stated deadline
• Follow up with the appropriate agency contact to
inquire about progress in hiring for the position
Building a Federal Resume Online
Building a Federal Resume Online
• Candidate Info.
• Work Experience
• Education
• References
• Affiliations
• Desired Locations
Requirements for a Federal Resume
Federal resumes require more detail than standard
resumes. Essentials include:
• Information about the opening
• Your personal information
• Education and coursework levels
• Work Experience
– Dates and number of hours per week
– Location of position & supervisor contact info
• Other Qualifications
Source: Get Hired!, Lily Whiteman, FPMI, 2005
Building A Federal Resume
Federal Application Process
Applicants will be assessed for federal opportunities using
one of the following methods:
Application Questionnaire
KSA or Essay
Sample Questionnaire
Serve as a primary point of contact for a specific subject matter.
I have not had education, training or experience in performing this task.
I have had education or training in performing the task, but have not yet
performed it on the job.
I have performed this task on the job. My work on this task was monitored
closely by a supervisor or senior employee to ensure compliance with proper
I have performed this task as a regular part of my job. I have performed it
independently and normally without review by a supervisor or senior
I am considered an expert in performing this task. I have supervised
performance of this task or am normally the person who is consulted by other
workers to assist them in this task because of my expertise.
Application Essays
Agencies commonly require essays as part of the
application to address characteristics they seek.
• Can be extremely important in the evaluation process in
sorting out the best qualified candidates
• Vary depending on the job, but examples include: skill in
written and oral communications; demonstrated technical ability;
knowledge of specific subject matter areas
• Are similar to interview questions; answers should provide
concrete examples (coursework and volunteer experience count),
particularly to demonstrate quantifiable results, complexity, or
• Should be a narrative written in first person and about
1-2 pages each
What is KSA?
KSA is an acronym for “Knowledge,
Note: Skills and Abilities”
Specifically address each
KSA in your application,
providing examples of how
your experience prepares you
for this role
Ability to communicate orally.
Ability to communicate in writing.
Ability to work with data on a computer.
Ability to organize the work flow of clerical
and administrative support functions.
KSA Response Approach: CCAR
• Context: Describe the specific problem you had to
address (What did you have to solve, resolve, respond to,
handle, etc.)
• Challenges: Describe the factors that contributed to a
particular challenge such as budget cuts, new legislation,
institutional reform, new goals from upper management,
• Action: Describe the steps you took to solve the problem
(Stay away from the ordinary -- be extraordinary in your
• Result: Outcomes of your actions- use %, #s, grades
(What was the difference you made – highlight THE BEST)
Sample KSA
Skill in applying engineering concepts and theories to
the solution of engineering problems.
KSA Response Example
Black – Context
Blue - Challenge
Green – Action
Red – Result
Earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in
mechanical engineering has given me a firm foundation of
the engineering principles necessary to solve challenging
problems. As a senior engineering major I often tutored
freshmen in introductory level engineering classes such
as Dynamic Analysis and Fluid Mechanics. For my thesis
project at the University of Michigan I designed a remotecontrollable Geiger counter that could be used by the
military to detect radiation sources that are too hazardous
for personnel to approach. The project gave me the
opportunity to solidify my knowledge of physical,
chemical, and mathematical concepts as they apply to the
real world. For my work on my thesis I received the
highest honors from the university and my paper has
since been published in an academic journal.
Summary Tips for the KSA Section
• Address key words/phrases mentioned in the
position description
• Tie your experiences to each KSA
• Use illustrative examples
• Focus on outcomes to which you directly contributed
• Use plain language, without acronyms
• Review your answers to ensure they are succinct,
easy to read, and grammatically correct
Applicant Eligibility
When submitting an application, agencies request eligibility
information including:
Past or current Federal employment
Veteran qualifications (
Disability status
Non-competitive appointment
– Peace Corps and AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers have 1 year of noncompetitive eligibility
Summary Tips for Applying
Plan ahead- allow plenty of time to thoroughly complete
your application
Select carefully- always consider using a tailored
application for each vacancy you apply
Prepare for a wait- don’t assume you have been rejected
if you do not hear back within weeks of submitting your
Follow-up with an agency- contact the identified
representative to learn the status of an application or find
out more about a job
What Happens Next
• After the closing date for applications, the agency
evaluates candidate qualifications
• From this assessment, the agency produces a list
of qualified candidates
• From the list of qualified applicants, agencies
select candidates for interviews
• At this point, agencies are like other organizations
– They conduct interviews and select the best
candidate(s) for the job
– Some jobs require security clearance
• Federal agencies hire the best and brightest,
and getting a Federal job is competitive
• Increase your chances of being hired by
following a few clear steps
– Research potential opportunities
– Consider various employment avenues
– Search on job websites and specific agencies
– Follow the application directions carefully
• Sell yourself!