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The Federal Job Hiring Process

The federal government is the largest employer in the United States. It employs more than 2 million people across the country and its territories. Only 15 percent of these jobs are held by people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. For job seekers in 2010, with the unemployment rate running at 9.6 percent, one of the greatest challenges is finding a job with stability. Working for the federal government is one such job.

Finding the Job

The federal government has more than 100 agencies and bureaus, all of which do their own hiring, and it has jobs in hundreds of occupational specialties. Most list their jobs on usajobs.opm.gov, the official federal government hiring website. Available jobs can be searched by title, agency, salary, keyword and location. Each job gives a description of the duties and qualifications and includes an application, which can be submitted online. It also notes any special qualifications needed, or hurdles that must be overcome, for each specific job. For example, you might need special security clearances, and these involve extensive background checks. If required, these extra steps are noted. Job titles are standardized and don't always match a private sector title, so don't abandon a title just because it isn't familiar to you. It might be just what you're looking for.

Vacancy Announcement

The federal hiring process starts with the vacancy announcement, the format of which is standard across federal jobs. In the basic information section of the announcement are listed the title, agency, location and announcement number. The next section lists who may apply. Some jobs are reserved for current federal employees and are only opened to the public if not filled. Some are available only to certain groups, such as veterans. Also included in the announcement are the opening and closing dates, salary range, job duties, basic and additional qualifications.

How to Apply

This section lists the materials needed to apply. You must be a U.S. citizen and must have a valid Social Security number. In addition to the application itself, you might be required to submit a resume, college transcripts, professional certifications and other items. This section also tells you how to submit the additional items needed. Once you complete and submit the application, the federal hiring process begins.

Behind the Scenes

Once you have submitted all the material requested, your application is reviewed by a human resources specialist to determine if you have the minimum qualifications for the job. If the job lists several possible grades, choose the lowest grade you are qualified for. Choosing a grade higher than your qualifications will eliminate you. If you choose one lower than you are qualified for, the agency will increase the grade for you. Human resources or a panel of specialists rates your application and forwards the best fits to the hiring manager.

Final Processes

If your application is selected, you will be called for an interview. This could take months. Once interviewed, If chosen, you will be called with a job offer. On this call you can negotiate salary, bonuses and relocation benefits, if offered, and you will be told how to get your security clearance or background check, if required.



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