Here's a question I see quite often on the Government/Public Service Careers message board: I'm in my mid-career and am finding that my career is coming to an end because of downturns in my industry. The jobs are drying up, and my pay isn't keeping up with inflation, so I need to make a change soon. I'm thinking about working for the government, but I don't know how to start. What do I do?
The best way to approach such a big task is to break it down into several smaller ones. These seven steps will put you on the path to a federal job, even if the word federal is nowhere to be found on your most recent resume:
- Print Out Your Resume: Have it nearby to refer to while you read government job announcements. If you want to apply for government jobs successfully, you must match yourself to the job.
- Go to USAJOBS: Your first search should be in your own city, at the salary you are making now. Select All Jobs for the job titles. This one you can't really guess at, because government job titles don't match those in private industry. Click yes or no at the bottom, depending on whether you are a veteran or have any special considerations for government employment. You can also check out Monster Public Service.
- Don't Give Up: If your first search doesn't return any jobs, try another city, or broaden your search to your entire state. You may need to spend an hour more to find a job listing that seems interesting to you.
- Read the Announcement Carefully: Once you focus on a particular job description, you will be shocked at how long it is. And don't be put off by unfriendly or intimidating language describing the job. Try to read through this, and look at the agency, office, job title, salary and geographic location. Look for the specialized experience the agency is seeking, and then convert your private-sector resume into a basic federal resume.
- Look for Overlap Between the Job Description and Your Resume: Do you have some of the skills and experience detailed in the job description? Could you add some of the job announcement's language to your resume? This may take some time, but it will greatly improve your chances of getting hired.
- Review the Application Requirements: Are you being asked for Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) narratives? Look for information on how to apply. You will probably have to fill out an online profile, submit your resume online (copy and paste it from your word processing file) then answer some questions. Try to remember that the human resource specialists are looking for candidates who are a perfect match for open federal jobs. And remember that your government resume is considered to be the application, examination and, in some cases, the interview. Yes, there are times when you can get a job offer without even being interviewed. That means your resume must be as comprehensive and polished as possible.
- Apply: You have begun your extreme career change to government.
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Kathryn Troutman is dedicated to helping veterans write great resumes. Kathryn is the President of The Resume Place, Inc. Write your federal resume with Kathryn's 5 steps with the free template sample at www.vetfedjobs.org. Kathryn is also the author of the Military to Federal Career Guide and CD-ROM, filled with successful samples of federal and private industry resumes. The guide is available as a print book and eBook. You can view a federal resume and a private industry resume for six case studies on the eCD-ROM, which costs only $9.95. The samples also include a cover letter for each case, which can help you feature your most marketable skills for the hiring specialist.