First things first
Are you looking to serve your country by applying for a federal job? Kudos to you on being a patriot! However, once you have made the decision to apply for a job, you would be wondering what to apply for and in which service you would find your calling. Here is a comprehensive guide on nailing that job!
Federal Civil Service Exams
Civil service exams are required for some specific groups and not for all the posts. Foreign Service officers, some secretarial, some law enforcement jobs and entry-level jobs require an examination; however mandatory civil service exams for administrative posts were done away with years ago. About 80% of the jobs hire candidates after an extensive and competitive examination of their background education and work experience.
OPM and individual agencies frequently advertise the vacancies they have and interest candidates can get in touch for the registration process. However, it is advisable for you to find out whether that particular job, which you are applying for, requires you to take a specific exam or demonstrate a particular skill.
Though there are no more written exams, applicants are required to complete an occupational questionnaire or an application form. The questionnaire as well as the application can be done online. In case you are required to take a written exam, you would be notified of the specifications including the date and location of the exam.
The Hiring Process
Officers rate the applicants and compose a hiring list which consists of the details of prospective candidates. This list is prepared about 2-6 weeks before the closing date of the job announcement’s closing date. The chosen candidates are appointed to a ‘selection official’.
Most candidates who apply for a federal job are surprised at the amount of paperwork that is needed not to mention the very long and tedious recruitment process.
However, you are going to be selected to be a public servant. Every minute of your job will directly impact on the country as a whole. This is why the process is very detailed and comprehensive background check is made.
This isn’t a need to worry, as will practice you can easily clear each step of the recruiting process. Most candidates are shortlisted on their answers to an occupation questionnaire. A federal style resume is also expected of each candidate.
The Occupational Questionnaire
The occupational questionnaire is basically a series of questions asking you to self-rate your education and experience. A sample of one such question is give below.
The reason these questionnaires are mandated is because of the following advantages.
- It is a simple and in-expensive way of categorizing candidates.
- Easy for automation
- Test security need not be worried about.
- A wide range of competencies can be evaluated.
- There is low burden.
- And so on!
Federal Style Resume
A federal style resume is nothing like your private-sector resume. When preparing your resume for federal jobs, you need to make sure that every bit adheres to the federal style resume.
The format is standardized and there should specifically be 43 blocks of information. The resume should be anywhere between 3 to 6 pages long. If you are required, by the agency, to include information about your knowledge, skills and abilities, the resume can go to as many as 10 pages!
However, make sure you follow the format or your resume is at a risk of getting rejected straight away.
Clerical and Administrative Jobs
As stated above, there is no compulsion to take a written exam for clerical or administrative jobs. You need to answer an occupational questionnaire, self-certify yourself and your typing speed.
This is highly mandated since many jobs require you to type a lot. You can submit a speed-test certificate from any typing course, take an exam for typing with OPM or personally certify that you can type a minimum of 40 wpm and later take the test when you report for duty.
Some jobs do require a specific set of skills which are published on their website. If you think you have the skill-set required for the job post, you can definitely get in! Some jobs such as posts in the FBI, the CIA, IRS, Foreign services, etc. require you to take an exam. You can go to each of their websites to see their requirements and then apply for the same.
In conclusion, being a public servant is a noble deed and to earn money while serving your country definitely needs to be applauded. If you are a logical person with high problem solving capabilities, you can definitely bag the job you are searching for. Good luck!