Ways & How

How to Find Government Jobs

How to Find Government Jobs

You have many employment opportunities in federal and local government, which are the country's largest employers. Even if you do not live near Washington D.C., you can still get a job with the federal government, as 84 percent of them are located outside D.C. Furthermore, the salaries of government jobs are competitive with those in the private sector, especially middle-management jobs. You also get to enjoy federal health insurance and retirement benefits. If you are interested in a job serving the public, try out these tips on how to find government jobs:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the government landscape. First, you should know that the government is not just one giant entity. It is comprised of hundreds of agencies, departments, and branches, and each one probably has job openings you can look into. Look for jobs at USAjobs.gov and filter your search by location, type, and department. Take time to find jobs that match your own interests, experience, and expertise. If you are a recent graduate, you can check out the Recent Graduates Program on the same site.

    Other websites to look into are Go Government, Best Places to Work, Our Public Service, and Making the Difference. Sometimes, it also helps to go directly to the agency's website and check out its job board, as some positions allow for direct hiring.

  2. Tap your network. You can gain a competitive advantage by asking friends, family, colleagues, and former co-workers with government jobs about openings as well as referrals and recommendations. Additionally, let them know you’d appreciate any tips and pointers concerning the job application and interview. Moreover, online sites like LinkedIn, which can connect you to people who work in the federal government, expand your networking possibilities. College graduates have another resource in their alma mater’s career services departments and alumni connections to look for established relationships with any government agencies and recruiters.

  3. Polish your resume. Keep in mind that the terms the government uses in job descriptions differ from those that nonprofit organizations and private sector employers use. It might sound like a different language all on its own. Analyze the keywords and important phrases in the job postings and incorporate them into your resume. Most of the time, you also need to write a cover letter. The more specific and relevant details about your previous work experiences you share, the better. Some helpful online resources that offer advice on tweaking a resume for government jobs include USAjobs.gov's Resume Tutorial, GovLoop's Resume Tool Kit, and Job-Hunt's Guide to Federal Government Job Search.

  4. Start with short-term jobs. To increase your chances of permanent employment, start targeting short-term jobs first, such as political and term appointments. You can often filter your search to those criteria. This is great especially for people who have no prior experience in government jobs. Furthermore, check out special government programs, such as the Peace Corps, Presidential Innovation Fellows program, Code for America, and Fuse Corps.

  5. Be patient. The reason why not all people apply for government jobs is the fact that the waiting period can be considerably long. You need to wait three to four months on average to get a job offer. Make sure that you apply to numerous jobs over a series of months to increase your chances and keep your options open.

Like any job hunt, learning how to find government jobs may be more tedious, but you might be duly rewarded if you are patient and prepare well-written, specific, and targeted applications.


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