Finding Jobs in the Federal Work Force

By Gallison, Stephen R. | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Finding Jobs in the Federal Work Force


Gallison, Stephen R., Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


"The wind and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." Edward Gibbon

Where Do I Find Federal Jobs and How Do I Get One?

That is the question most often asked by the customers at the Maryland Professional Outplacement Assistance Center (POAC). People travel great distances to attend POACs monthly seminars titled, "Demystifying me Federal Employment Process," hoping to get their questions answered. Over the years the staff have developed a workable approach used with the professional, executive, technical and managerial customers who have attended the six-hour training seminar POAC sponsors. Without the training session to introduce the process, the counseling staff would be saying the same things to literally thousands of our customers that we work with across the State of Maryland. Once they complete the training seminar, a counselor will generally start a one to one conversation by asking our new federal job seeker "What do you want to do? The federal government hires virtually every occupation known." This generally leads to an education, work experience and skills assessment session, which is usually focused around a review of their resume and/or college transcript. Counselors are trained to conduct the initial portion of the interview in order to learn as much about the federal job seeker as possible.

Each discovery session includes looking at the Occupational Series listings on the web at http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/ and clicking Jobs Category Search. By using the tools provided on the Office of Personnel Management [OPM] web site the counselor and federal job seeker begin to winnow down the employment possibilities. This "learn by doing" approach familiarizes the candidate with navigating the Office of Personnel Management's USAJOBS web site. Many times the candidate is amazed tiiat the job titles in the federal government are not the same as in the private employment sector. Reviewing the occupational series becomes an important second step in helping the federal job search client grasp the vast potential of federal employment opportunities. Next we explore the locations where government employees work. This is accomplished by using the website http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/ and select Location Search. For the first time user, they are amazed at the locations where the federal government has its employees. Generally the federal job seekers seeking our services want to work in the Greater Washington D.C. area and want employment in the local commute area. Yet other federal job seekers are open to living abroad to serve their country. These federal job seekers will also require another step to research the target location: learn as much about the local culture as possible. We start them off with a self-study review, suggesting that the first step being the web site CIA World Factbook [https://www.cia.gov/] and then contacting the cultural affairs department at the embassy located in that particular location.

The next step is to provide the federal job seeker a basic understanding that the federal employment process is designed to eliminate those people who cannot or choose not to follow directions. The federal employment process is not a creative process. Back in the mid 1980s when I was managing a combined grant from U.S. Department of Labor and the Department Health and Human Services program focused on the horticulture industry, I had the occasion to ask Senator Robert Dole why it is so complicated to apply and obtain federal employment. Senator Dole replied, "Steve, our nation is founded on basic principles, laws, regulations and codes; if a person cannot follow a somewhat simple set of application rules then maybe they don't possess the ability to interpret and enforce those principles, laws, regulations and codes the federal government has established to run me country. Working for the government is not for everyone." His words were right on the mark in 1985, as they are today. …

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