How to Ride the Federal Hiring Wave
There is one -- and only one -- nationwide employer that will continue to annually fill hundreds of thousands of high-paying, secure, dynamic jobs no matter how bad the economy may get. Who is this employer? The federal government, which will annually hire more than 200,000 new employees throughout the U.S. -- including tens of thousands of interns and recent graduates.
The massive federal hiring wave will continue despite the ongoing national recession.
What's more, U.S News & World Report described government jobs as a terrific deal and included "government manager" on its list of best careers -- and that was even before various factors converged to make federal jobs particularly hot, hot properties. These factors include:
** A hiring wave in the federal government -- the nation's largest employer -- generated by record numbers of retiring baby boomers.
** Spiking unemployment rates in the private sector, which have increased the appeal of secure federal jobs. (Feds are rarely laid off and rarely fired.)
** Increased appreciation for public service, which began after 9/11.
If you want to start a federal career, here's how to find federal openings:
** Regularly surf http://www.USAJOBS.gov: Every day, tens of thousands of openings are advertised on this website -- the main website for federal jobs. Since GovCentral's job search now includes USAJOBS, you can also try searching on the jobs channel.
** Check the career sections of agency websites: Every federal agency has its own website, and every agency website has an employment section. These employment sections frequently advertise job openings, internships and special recruitment programs that are never advertised on http://www.USAJOBS.gov. A link to an A-to-Z directory of agency websites appears under "Government Agencies" at http://www.firstgov.gov.
** Attend job fairs: Many federal agencies use job fairs to fill unadvertised openings -- sometimes through fast-track hiring procedures or even on-the-spot offers. Some federal agencies sponsor their own job fairs at college campuses and other locations; other federal agencies co-sponsor job fairs that are also attended by private sector employers.
You can find job fairs that are sponsored or co-sponsored by federal agencies by looking for ads in the media and by checking agency websites. In particular, be sure to check the career sites of agencies that regularly sponsor job fairs, which include agencies in the intelligence community (intelligence.gov), the State Department (state.gov), the FBI (FBI.gov) and some agencies that address banking and corporate finance, including the FDIC and agencies in the Treasury Department (Treasury.gov).
You may also find job fairs that are sponsored or co-sponsored by federal agencies by looking for ads in the media, checking the career sections of agency websites, and "googling" the name of each your target agencies along with "job fairs."
** Join the Foreign Service: The Foreign Service -- which represents the U.S.'s interests overseas -- is composed of employees from four federal agencies: 1) the Department of State (state.gov); 2) the Department of Agriculture (USDA.gov); 3) the International Trade Administration (trade.gov); and 4) the U.S. Agency for International Development USAID.gov). Check each Foreign Service agency' s website for its requirements for applying to its branch of the Foreign Service.
** Apply for temporary jobs and contract jobs: Temporary jobs in federal agencies and federal contracting jobs often segue almost seamlessly into permanent federal jobs and generate experience and contacts that may lead to permanent jobs.
Because temp agencies and contractors frequently hire faster than federal agencies do, working for federal contractors or temp agencies are particularly good options for unemployed job-hunters who need to start working quickly and for job-seekers who want to work part-time during their job searches.
You may find federal contract jobs by surfing through the websites of federal contractors; a hyperlinked list of the nation's top 100 contractors is posted at http://www.usaspending.gov. You may find temporary agencies that help federal agencies staff up by surfing through the list of temp agencies posted at http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21666.htm.
** Land a federal internship: Federal employers have recently rolled out dozens and dozens of new, well-paying internship programs for students and special fast-track management training programs for recent grads all over the U.S. Some of these programs are recruiting young professionals of all backgrounds and some of these programs are specially recruiting minorities, women and people with disabilities. You can find information about internships on agency websites. (Most internships are not advertised on USAJOBS.)
Learn more about how to land an internship here.
** Contact selective placement coordinators at federal agencies: Each agency has a selective placement coordinator who provides information to job seekers about unadvertised openings for people with disabilities and for veterans. A directory of selective placement coordinators is posted at http://www.apps.opm.gov/sppc_directory.