Monday, November 28, 2011

Networking Your Way to a Federal Job Through the Holidays

Use the holiday flutter to network your way to a Federal hiring official.  What is networking and can it work for you?  Networking is the ability to leverage your constellation of friends, professional colleagues, neighbors and people you know to obtain advice, information and referrals.  Can it work in the Federal arena?  Of course it can!  It can be beneficial to have someone on the inside looking for your application to come through the system, but there are several steps that you want to master first:
  • Research – learn about the field (agency) and how you fit in 
  • Targeting – determine who to target and with whom you should meet (start at modest level and move up)
  • Presentation – learn about agency’s needs and how you could fit in. 
Once you’re confident in your approach, practice what you say so that it is clear and concise.  Set a goal for the number of contacts you’ll make each week and follow through.  Determine a specific time of day during which you can make your networking calls.  If the phone seems overwhelming, start face-to-face with those you know, then move to the phone with some practice under your belt. 

Most importantly, have your 30 second commercial ready and rehearsed
     What can you can tell someone about yourself in 30-60 seconds?
     What differentiates you from others? 
     Think of a unique perspective that they will remember

For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal application that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Can I Apply to a Federal Job if I Have Bad Credit or a Legal Issue?

If you have had a minor altercation with the law or some financial hardships, you may still be eligible for Federal employment.  Your eligibility for employment will depend on agency policy, how serious the incident was and how long ago it occurred.  Whatever the circumstances are, be honest in your responses to any questions you are asked because an agency can terminate your employment immediately if you are not completely honest during the investigation process.  Even more importantly, you must disclose all of the event details and the progress you are making to move forward.  For example, if you owe Uncle Sam back taxes, make a payment arrangement and stay on track; show your proof of payment during the background process.   In some instances, there may be hurdles of which you should be aware.  For example, if you can’t manage your own checkbook but are applying to positions in which you would be managing Uncle Sam’s checkbook, it is probably best for you to look for other types of positions.  Similarly, if you have a history of drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Agency is not interested in you applying to positions within that agency.  (I once had a seminar participant tell me that they should be interested in having individuals with experience apply.)  Fortunately for us, they are not.     
For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

KSAs or no KSAs in the Federal Application?

Most agencies (96%) are no longer requiring that you submit KSA essay responses the initial time you apply to a Federal job.  However, if your application appeals to the HR Specialist, you may  receive a request to submit KSA essays after you've applied.  They may ask you to submit your essays before an interview is extended to you, or you may be asked to bring your KSA essays to an interview.  Alternatively, you may be asked to write your essays in the actual interview (probably after a successful interview)!  The bottom line is that the KSA essay has not disappeared and you may be asked to submit some written essays if you are going to move forward in the application process.  The reason is simple.  The work we do in the government requires writing – an email, report to Congress, etc.  The agencies interested in you want to make sure you can put some sentences together to get your point across using proper grammar and plain language. 

For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why is it so Hard to Get a Federal Job?

There are three main reasons. First, many people apply to Federal jobs without a tight Federal resume — it is usually not in the proper Federal format and, more importantly, is not written with the HR Specialist’s perspective in mind. They are looking for skills and competencies and most applicants focus on accomplishments. Second, many people apply to jobs for which they may be qualified, but not best qualified. HR Specialists in the Federal government will not move your resume forward in the hiring process unless they find that you are one of the highest qualified applicants for the position. They use a technique we call the “80% rule.” If you’ve done 80% of the duties listed in the vacancy announcement, it is probably a good announcement for you to pursue. Third, most applicants do not include the information to support the KSA statements in their resumes. If you see the KSAs listed in the vacancy announcement, you need to address them in your resume. 

For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Federal Jobs: Which Jobs Do I Choose?

To identify actual vacancy announcements that are a good fit for your qualifications, you must carefully review the vacancy announcement language from, particularly the language in the “Duties” and “Qualifications & Evaluations” tabs.  Look for a majority match between the duties listed and your skills.  For the qualifications required, make sure you possess them.  As you identify those vacancies that seem like a good fit, record the Job Series (a four digit number found on the Overview tab) for those jobs.  Keep this Job Series in mind; you can use this information as you prepare your Federal resume. 

KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities): Look for the “Knowledge, Skills and Abilities” or “KSAs” in the vacancy announcement.  Make sure you possess all of them before moving forward.    

Self-Assessment Questionnaire Review: There is usually a link in the vacancy announcement to the Self-Assessment Questionnaire.  See if you can answer the majority of the questions at the “expert” or the highest level.  If you can’t, you might consider by-passing that particular vacancy announcement. 

For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Federal Resume: What Information Do I Need To Get Started Writing My Federal Resume?

Employment / Work / Service History:
Information about your professional experience for the last 10 years, listing each of your jobs with month started and month finished. Place major focus on last three to four jobs. Make sure this information is comprehensive and detailed in terms of what you did at each position. Try to focus on the skills you used and the results you were responsible for making happen. Keep these questions in mind:

What skills/competencies did I use? How did I do the work?
  • How did I overcome challenges – what skills did I exercise?
  • Who were my customers/clients?
  • How did I communicate with others?
Information for each job you have held:

  • Job Title
  • Company name (without abbreviations), City, State and Zip Code
  • Salary (total compensation) information
  • Supervisor’s first and last name and phone number
Information about your university or college education, along with the year graduated and major(s) and minor(s). If you have not graduated, please provide the number of semester hours toward completion of your degree. You can include your GPA if it is really high or you are a recent graduate.

Information about the following:

  • Technical / Computer skills
  •  Security Clearance – previous or current with details
  •  Publications
  •  Special activities
  •  Community service
  •  Special interests
  •  Volunteer activities
  •  Memberships
  •  Presentations
  •  Languages
Accomplishment Stories: Before you start creating your resume, develop several “Accomplishment Stories.” These are stories about things you have done, accomplishments you have achieved, changes you have instigated, processes you have improved, etc. These stories can be used to respond to KSA (Knowledge, Skill and Ability) essays. They bring validity to your skill set. When writing your “Accomplishment Stories,” provide a variety of examples. One of the best ways to do this is to review your target vacancy announcements for the KSAs (usually found under “Qualifications and Evaluations” tab). The KSAs will serve as a guide to determine which topics you may want to cover. Some examples might involve specific projects, but you can also write about job duties and responsibilities. You should use specific time, dollar or numerical values whenever possible to show the depth and breadth of your experience at a high level. Using the following formula, identify several “Accomplishment Stories” for each position you have held.

For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at

Monday, November 7, 2011

Federal Hiring: What Has Changed in the Most Recent USAJOBS Upgrade?

Most Federal job seekers know that was undergoing a make-over.  What are the major changes that will affect applicants the most?  Here they are:

  • USAJOBS has the capability of being searched by HR recruiters!  Make sure you input all of the information required for your profile (especially the 500 character personal information block).  Additionally, you can now upload a Word document version of your resume into USAJOBS to be searchable by recruiters.  In the past, only the resumes inputted or built into USAJOBS were searchable. 
  • Work Experience, Training and Publications Block space has increased from 3,000 characters to 5,000 characters.  In the past, many applicants with longer resumes would have to use a workaround to ensure all characters would be included. 
  • Final Resume View comes up automatically for you to quickly preview your final product and see how the recruiters will view your resume.  Make sure you use “+” instead of bullets and CAPITAL LETTERS to make essential key words stand out.
For more information on transforming your background into a magnificent Federal resume that attracts the attention of HR, visit us on the web at