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Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 09:28 AM   #1
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Best Way to Get that Government Job

We've had a few threads here on federal and state government jobs. *But, how best to land one?

The web provides numerous resources here, with usajobs.com, and state personnel sites. *I've taken a run at a few of these, but no bites so far.

Makes me wonder a few things:
  • Is it smarter to try to network into a government job, just as in private industry? *Wouldn't surprise me, though I have no idea how I'd accomplish that. *Have tried connecting with government exec's through a financial group I'm in, but not many government exec's join such groups.
  • On background, the web sites often ask your former compensation. *My private industry comp level may be spooking them ... better to hedge a little, and just show a "> $90K" on such questions?

Will appreciate any other suggestions. *Would like to find a reasonable position that allows me to get back to 45 hour weeks, instead of 70. *Thanks.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

I don't work for the Feds but I've been looking at Fedeal jobs and a few things I've noticed. In private industry, from what a regional VP told me, if you have one of the listed job qualifications apply. He said that most of the people he has hired only had a few of the required qualifications. From what I received back from applications to the federal system you must have a high level of skill in all of the listed qualifications. It almost seems like they want you to come in and be able to perform the job like you've had it for decades. That might work for most positions, but the ones I am qualified to perform the only place to obtain the training is from the government. It's that catch-22 you can't get the job unless you have a resume and you can't get a resume until you get the job.

The few Department of Defense jobs I've looked at and from what I know about the military, you have to know someone to get the job. Many times the advertisement is held up until the person who is wanted for the position is available to take it.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 12:56 PM   #3
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

Charles, I have been told that due to the pay grade structure (the GS grades) of the federal system, your most recent salary can be used to put you at a higher pay level within the pay grade you're applying for. Don't fully understand the system (not a fed), but hope that helps.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 01:50 PM   #4
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

Charles,

Having applied to numerous fed gov't jobs through OPM as well as navy, army, DOD websites, it seems like it takes freakin' forever unless you know someone in the agency that can fast track your resume/application. This is how my wife got her current job. Be prepared for the interview/hiring process to take a long time, especially if you have to get a clearance [like a year +]. It may not, but I'd plan that way. I'm still getting calls from fed jobs I applied for a year and a half ago. With the state jobs I applied for, I got correspondence from the state agency [mail, email, calls] in around a month or two.

I got a private sector job until the fed jobs panned out. Now I like my job too much to go for those fed positions I applied for.

- Alec
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 02:36 PM   #5
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

Hey Alec...I was just noticing you hadnt been around much lately...glad to see you're back!
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-24-2005, 06:35 PM   #6
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

It definitely depends what field you are in. Most fed jobs listed on the USAJOBS website require you to have "permanent status" in order to apply-- you have to already be a permanent federal employee. Some jobs, typically entry-level positions or jobs that are hard to find qualified applicants for or jobs in high cost of living areas, will be open to the public. So, a position for an nurse at a VA hospital in San Francisco is probably going to be open to the public.

Often, people get their foot in the door with a federal job:

1) while a student- you can get special hiring status

2) by taking a job open to the public in a less desirable area/ or a job you are overqualified for, staying in the job for 12 months to get "permanent status," then applying for jobs you actually want once you are in the system.

It doesn't matter who you know if the job isn't open to the public. Also, if a vet who meets the minimum qualifications applies for a job you want, they have preferred hiring status.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-25-2005, 02:44 PM   #7
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

If you won't limit yourself to Fed and State jobs, I can provide limited insight into Government Jobs, and the hiring process.

I hire people every year. My staff do Computer Tech Support and potentially start at various levels. You don't have to be "in the system" to start at any of the levels, including mine, but it can help if you've demonstrated your skill in advance to those making the decision. I climbed the ladder from within, but most of the people I've hired over the years were outsiders.

Resume is great, if you've done an equivalent job in the private sector, or for another government agency, good for you, you'll pass the screening process performed by clerks with no clue.

The reality is I hire people that have good personalities to go with their skill sets. In the real world, I want folk that can get along with other folk. Ultimately it's the face to face interview that decides who wins and who loses.

Job openings go in streaks, based on untangibles, like budget restrictions, and when people move on to better opportunities. Typically we get handed a hiring freeze for a year or two (as recently occured in a sinking economy), then when it's finally lifted, I hire 3 new techs all at once.

It's not about a vague desire to "work for the government". You need to pick and exact job opening, read and understand the job duties, requested experience, and desireable knowledge and expertise; then craft an application with resume that spits that stuff right back at us. That will get you an interview.

Then when I ask you the questions, go ahead and give the "right" answer, not the honest - that's - how - you'd really do it in real life answer. Show me you know the correct response, I'll work with your eccentricities later.

I don't know what your salary requirements are, and I expect private sector folk get that sinking feeling when they see our salary ranges. Just keep in mind we don't make you fund your own way-cool retirement. If you are dedicated to ER you can save an additional 18K per year tax free (actually Deferred via 457 plan), Medical benefits are beyond great (and paid for by your employer, not you), and once you get that year of probation under your belt, I'll have a very difficult time getting rid of you once I see your true colors. To give real life dollar perspective, where I come from (Central CA) the people that actually work for me (and other agencies within my County) receive the following gross salaries.

Tech Jobs pay:

31-39k
42-52k
50-62k
58-71k

The salary increases are fairly automatic over a 5 year period and amount to 5% per year. Very typically the job below prepares you to be competitive for getting hired to the job above. All numbers represent a 40-hour week
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-25-2005, 03:20 PM   #8
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

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I hire people every year. *
Hey, JonnyM, sounds like it's time to hire your replacement!
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-26-2005, 07:18 AM   #9
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

Charles,

One avenue you might explore is to try to get a job with a company that provides on-site support to a federal agency. You would be working side by side with gov't employees. They will get to know your abilities and if a vacancy occurs in the gov't ranks they can help guide your application through the bureaucratic maze.

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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-26-2005, 01:10 PM   #10
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

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Hey, JonnyM, sounds like it's time to hire your replacement!

Hey Nords, that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said er, ah, wrote about me. Sniff, bring tears.
Certainly will do, and soon enough I can just taste it. Just reran my numbers in my perpetually open spreadsheet, in voice of dead 'rican actor "Lookeen' Good"
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-26-2005, 01:39 PM   #11
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

"Job openings go in streaks, based on untangibles, like budget restrictions, and when people move on to better opportunities. Typically we get handed a hiring freeze for a year or two..."

Yes, exactly. When the jobs are announced, there is a manager somewhere who is dying for a qualified candidate. This poor SOB (DOB) waits until the agency has actual authority to hire. The cogs turn slowly until one of the big wigs gives the nod. The biggest recruitment area for Feds is college graduate job announcements at a university. The next biggest recruitment area for Feds is job fairs. But a lot of people still get hired off of the street and yes, networking helps, but not to the same extent as it does in industry. The salary figure is a guide. I've seen engineers take a big pay cut to start as a working grade engineer and I've seen some folks transfer in at nearly the same salary. That's my experience.

Good luck,

Chris
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-26-2005, 02:14 PM   #12
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

I'll second Grumpy's advice. Husband's agency recently hired someone on as a permanent employee who had been doing contract work for them. Someone left and they went out of there way to hire this guy over the list of qualified applicants because everyone knew and liked him. He's a lucky duck.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 04-28-2005, 08:57 PM   #13
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

Thanks for the tips, everyone.
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job
Old 05-02-2005, 10:21 PM   #14
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Re: Best Way to Get that Government Job

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The salary increases are fairly automatic over a 5 year period and amount to 5% per year. Very typically the job below prepares you to be competitive for getting hired to the job above. All numbers represent a 40-hour week
That's very attractive. In the private sector, you are lucky if you can get more than 4%. Raises are not automatic. They are based on subjective performance relative to others. The distribution of raises falls into 3 classes: low, midlle, and top. Low (about 10% of the population) gets 0%, Middle(about 80%) gets 3-4%, and Top (10%) gets 5-7%. Most people work 45 - 50 hours week.
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