Dear Career: Why Won't USAJobs Respond to Me?

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Dear Career,

I'm starting to get really frustrated. My husband finally retired, and all I want is to provide for my family. I've submitted applications through USAJobs and a few contracting companies, but the only thing I've heard back in the last two-and-a-half months are a couple of rejections.

What am I doing wrong? What should I be expecting?

Help! Transitioning Spouse

Dear Transitioning,

I understand your frustration. I'm just guessing here, but I'm betting you've been piecing together work throughout your service member's career and you may even have some significant gaps. Now that transition has happened, you're looking forward to contributing more to the family income and pursuing a steady, meaningful career.

I wish I could give you a magic answer. What I can give you is a little perspective on the federal hiring process and some resources. The first thing to know is that the federal hiring process is its own animal. It's definitely different than most traditional corporations. Everything is different, from the resume you should be submitting (longer than a traditional resume) to the timeline (much longer than a normal hiring process) and the process of negotiating salary (most jobs are assigned a set range and must stay within those limits).

The first resource I would like to point you to is the Military Spouse Guide to Federal and Contractor Employment that was published by In Gear Career. In addition to helping military spouses consider whether federal employment is the right path for them, it discusses federal resume writing and Military Spouse Preference. In addition to the Guide, you can also check out this article on Military OneSource and this one right here on

While contracting work doesn't have the exact same requirements as the federal system, the process can also take a while. Some of the jobs that you find listed may not actually be won yet. They could be positions that are part of a proposal and the firm may choose to hire you only if they win the contract.

Here's the bottom line: This sector, whether strictly federal positions or contracting, requires some research, diligence and patience. Check out the resources above, make sure your resume meets the requirements and I wish you the best of luck. Please don't hesitate to write again if you have more questions.

Sincerely, Career

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