By Natalie McIntyre, Career and Industry Specialist, ASU Career and Professional Development Services; Xavier Morett, Career Development Peer, ASU Career and Professional Development Services
Applying to a government job is a process with similarities to applying to many other types of openings. However, there are some industry-specific standards to remember that many employers are expecting to see from candidates. Here are five important things to remember when applying for a government job!
1. Have a Detailed and Thorough Federal Resume
Government resumes look for detail and thoroughness. When listing your work experience, include specifics such as your level of expertise (i.e. manager vs. entry level), hours worked per week, and details about your job responsibilities. Quantify your roles as much as possible. Examples include: “increased funding by 25%,” or “produced 30+ reports on a quarterly basis,” etc. Be sure to include key words and skills that are listed in the job qualification section. Because government jobs require a lot of details, a page limit does not usually apply to government resumes, which could go beyond the normal standard of 1-2 pages.
2. Learn to Navigate USAJOBS.gov
For federal jobs, creating an account with USAJOBS.gov is a must. Most federal job openings are posted to this website and an account is needed to utilize the application process. A USAJOBS account will also allow you receive regular emails about job openings, apply to federal jobs, upload application documents, etc. Visit https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/About/ for tips and tricks on how to effectively create an account.
3. Spend Time Studying the Job Posting
Thoroughly check a job posting’s minimum requirements and experience needed. Ensure your experience meets the qualifications, and do not be afraid to apply if those minimum qualifications are met. Also identify if the job is open to your situation (i.e. some jobs are for civilians, others are for veterans only). The “How to Apply” and “How You Will be Evaluated” sections will provide more specific insights relevant to each position, so be sure to spend time reviewing these.
4. Prepare for Various Types of Interviews
If offered, prepare for the interview. Government interviews can take make many forms. Sometimes these are one-on-one, a panel interview, or done remotely. Regardless, prepare accordingly. Government interviews tend to be very structured; every candidate receives the same questions in the same order and they are always relate directly to your ability to do the job. Try researching what skills people need to work where you are applying for, consult current employees or former employees for advice, and conduct informational interviews to prepare.
5. Engage in Networking
Networking is vital for applying to government jobs, especially at the state or local level. Making professional contacts can help you discover job openings not found on any government website, give you an entry point to certain sectors, help you gain hands-on experience, and build relationships for the entirety of your career. Apply for internships, reach out to state and local representatives, attend events, and conduct informational interviews to start building those connections.
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