How Do I Get In?
THE FIRST STEP in beginning your government career is to get in. That is the hardest part of the process, and it can be so frustrating that people often give up and never make a really good faith effort to secure such a job. It is frustrating because so much paperwork (often electronic) is usually involved and because people’s initial experiences often prove to be unfavorable. This can happen because someone may not get selected for the first few jobs that she applies for as a result of the sheer number of applicants or because others have veterans’ preference and she does not; or because she may simply be found to be unqualified, not know why, and be unable to speak with a human resource specialist about the process.
Until you get into the system on a permanent basis, which means that you do not have to compete with members of the public for internal positions, you are simply on the outside trying to get in. However, once you get in, the rules are simpler, and moving either laterally or upward in your career becomes much easier.
Let’s look at what happens under both scenarios. In the federal government, when an agency is looking to fill a job from the outside, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) (or an agency equivalent under delegated examining authority) issues a vacancy announcement to the public; OPM also notifies state employment service offices. The examining office then determines the candidates’ qualifications and rates and ranks them according to job-related criteria. Veterans’ preference applies