Distinctive Documents header image

Step by Step: How to Apply For U.S. Federal Government Jobs

– Posted in: Job Search Techniques Resume Writing


Looking for a job is hard work. Conducting a productive job search takes time. Effective networking often requires many hours of sitting through lengthy presentations while feasting on mediocre fare and feigning interest in small talk in the hope of collecting business cards.  Researching potential employers requires patient diligence. And the application process for most jobs now involves an online component which usually demands inputting a significant amount of information. Your job search becomes further complicated if there are specific procedures to follow, info to provide or requisite documents to complete. If you’re interested in applying for federal government jobs, you’ll discover all three apply.

Applying for federal government jobs is both and art and a science. Many a qualified candidate has had his or her hopes dashed because of a failure to follow the step-by-step process for applying for federal government jobs. And although there’s a good deal of work involved, it’s not necessarily difficult work.

Here, then, is a primer on how to apply for federal government jobs:

  • Reading is fundamental. Before you do anything else, you must read the Job Announcement very, very carefully. It will tell you everything that is required of you when you apply for the position.
  • You must submit all information listed in the Job Announcement.
  • Provide a Federal Resume 
    • Unlike the standard one to two page private sector employment resume, applying for federal government jobs usually requires a three to five page (and sometimes longer) resume
  • The resume must be highly structured
  • Knowledge, Skills & Abilities (KSAs) statements are also often required. KSAs help the employer better evaluate the candidates by further distinguishing among them.
  • If allowed, you may complete the OF-612 Optional Application form (at agency’s discretion)
  • The importance of customizing the resume for the specific job posting can not be overstated. Your work history, education, special skills, qualifications, etc. must address the required Duties and Specialized Experience published in the Job Announcement. Required information includes:
    • Job Information such as Job Announcement Number, title, job grade
    • Personal Information (Name, address, telephone number(s), Social Security Number, Country of Citizenship
    • Veteran’s Preference – This applies to those who served on active duty in the US military. If this applies to you, there are different point values assigned depending on your individual circumstances.
    • Reinstatement Eligibility (for former federal employees)
    • Education
      • High School name, city, state, zip code
      • College name, city, state, zip code, major(s), type of degree and year received; if no degree received, total number of credits earned, school year (semester or quarter)
    • Work experience
      • Job title
      • Duties, responsibilities, accomplishments
      • Name and address of each employer
      • Name and supervisor of each supervisor
      • Start and end date of each job
      • Hours per week
      • Salary
      • Clearly state whether current supervisor can be contacted for information
    • Information about other qualifications that qualify you for the position you seek such as job-related training courses, skills, certificates and licenses, and honors, awards and special accomplishments.

The first question you need to ask yourself, of course, is whether you have the time and patience to do the work necessary to put together an adequate federal format resume. Even if you do, are you willing to do the work? If the answer to either question is no, you would be well-served to retain professional assistance from an organization like  Distinctive Career Services, LLC which has the expertise to help you produce the resume required when applying for federal government jobs.

If you are applying for an SES (Senior Executive Service) position, the process becomes even more arduous.  Researching, compiling and writing an SES application may take a solid week. Getting the necessary information together can in and of itself take days.

Remember too that application deadlines are truly drop dead deadlines. If you don’t submit it on time, your application will be ignored/rejected.

In addition to the weighty resume requirements, there are other steps that need to be followed in order to be considered for federal government jobs:

  • Declaration for Federal Employment. Intended to both determine whether you are a candidate suitable for federal employment and authorize a (very thorough) background check.
  • For males born after December 31, 1959, proof that you registered with the Selective Service System or have an exemption from same.

You should approach a job search as if it was your job, especially if you’re considering federal government jobs. Failure to take it seriously will ensure you won’t be working soon and certainly not for the United States government.

Opt In Image
The ULTIMATE Collection of Resume Examples That Show You Exactly HOW TO...
Maximize Your Strengths & Transform Even Your Toughest Challenges Into a JOB-WINNING Resume

“Finally! A comprehensive e-manual of professionally written sample resumes that show you step-by-step (using 101 REAL before-and-after examples) exactly how to create your own job-winning resume – or transform one that isn’t working for you!”

101 REAL examples, tips, strategies, and valuable professional trade secrets you can download and use right NOW!

About the author: Michelle Dumas is a multiply-certified, national-award-winning professional resume writer and career marketing expert widely recognized as pioneering thought-leader and trend-setter in the employment services industry. With 20 years of experience, Michelle has helped 10,000+ job seekers in all 50 U.S. states and across the world land rewarding jobs and build fulfilling careers.

Related Posts