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Job Hunting During a Time of Outsourcing

As the government studies human resources, information technology, grants, housing management, facilities and other not-inherently governmental positions for possible outsourcing, job seekers looking for their first federal jobs might wonder, "Should I even go ahead and apply for a federal job?"

Even with the outsourcing trend, the federal government is still hiring. The move toward outsourcing means only that you'll need to stay ahead of the curve by becoming an informed federal job seeker. These tips will help.

Know the News

Scrutinize breaking federal news to see where funds are flowing. The federal agencies with the most money will be the ones to do the most hiring. The White House Web site will give you a sense of the president's priorities.

Who's Not Hiring?

Keep track of agencies that seem to be scaling back. Scanning the articles in Government Executive is one way to identify the agencies in the greatest state of flux. Take particular note of government areas being considered for privatization.

Temping Options

Don't skip over temporary positions. A current federal trend is to list more jobs as temporary. This gives agencies more flexibility in moving employees around. Temporary positions could last for six months, a year or even continue for a few years. Once you're an insider, you'll be in a better position to apply for other open positions.

Be Persistent

Go after one to two federal jobs a week. Once you have a strong resume written in the federal format and some KSA (knowledge, skills and ability) statements, you can adjust them for targeted openings. This is a good idea for any job search, but it's particularly important when applying to the federal government, where you'll have experienced government employees competing with you.

Update Your Skills

Stay current in your training before and after being hired. It's crucial to keep your skills up-to-date. Government agencies typically look for people with strong skills in leadership, teamwork, organizational development, EEO, languages, customer service, writing and public speaking. Computer knowledge also is highly sought, particularly familiarity with PowerPoint, HTML, Access, Excel or any new software popular in your industry.

Flexibility Counts

Be open to a career change. You'll spot more opportunities after learning how to analyze your skills, interpret the vacancy announcements and creatively match your background to what's available. For instance, former teachers often think about working for the government in a training role. While this is a natural step, teachers making the transition should take time to pinpoint their key skills to ensure the best fit. Possibilities include researcher, legislative analyst, writer/editor, curriculum developer and instructional specialist.

Make Contact

Use networking to spot hot job categories and expanding agencies. Networking can help unearth hidden areas of growth beyond the headlines. Start to develop your network through people you know, and then widen it by attending relevant conferences and joining professional associations. You can also network on the Military.com Veteran Career Network.

Know What's Out There

Regularly look for federal job openings, especially on USAJOBS -- last year, 96 percent of federal government openings were posted there.

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