Ways & How

How to Get a Job with the Federal Government

How to Get a Job with the Federal Government

Applying for a job in the federal government is pretty much the same as applying for one in the private sector. You look to find job openings, submit your resume, and wait for a response. But the application process for federal government jobs is considerably more complicated because of the regulations designed to keep the hiring process fair. That means that job titles are more standardized, resumes need to be more detailed, and job qualifications should be more specific. If you are interested in working for the government, follow these steps on how to get a job with the federal government:

  1. Explore your options. You have a lot of choices when it comes to federal government jobs, as there are more than 100 agencies and bureaus where you can work, each with its own process of recruitment and hiring. Furthermore, the federal government hires people for hundreds of occupational specialties. Just like with any job, browse the openings to find one that fits you. Visit www.usajobs.opm.gov or call (703) 724-1850 if you are from the United States.

    You may also contact the federal government agencies directly. Other sources of job openings include newspapers and job fairs.

  2. Make sure that you qualify. Just like any other type of job, federal government jobs have a list of qualifications that you must meet. Fortunately, government jobs cater to almost every level of education and experience—from fresh high school graduates with no experience to those with Ph. Ds and established careers. To better understand the requirements, familiarize yourself with the General Schedule code that assigns every job a grade level from 1 to 15.

  3. Learn to decode vacancy announcements. They start with basic information, such as the announcement number, position title, agency name, and duty location. Afterwards, you should see the target applicant pool. Vacancies only open to current or former federal employees often say "Employees only" or "Statues candidates only." Those open to the public indicate "Open to all qualified candidates" or "Open to all U.S. citizens." Other important information, such as application process, deadline, pay range, General Schedule code, job description and duties, typically follow.

  4. Submit your resume. After finding suitable positions, submit your resume. Some agencies offer an online resume form, while others require an electronic resume. When submitting the latter, make sure that it includes your name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, country of citizenship, and vacancy announcement number. Your resume should, as always, include your educational history, related coursework, and relevant experience.

  5. Fulfill other requirements. Depending on the agency, some ask for written statements about your qualifications, a filled-out questionnaire, or even copies of your college transcript.

  6. Prepare and ace the interview. Most managers in the federal government conduct interviews prior to candidate selection. These interviews are pretty much the same as those in private industry jobs. Make sure to learn as much as you can about the agency, the specific department you’d be working in, and prepared to provide detailed information about past experiences that qualify you.

More paperwork is involved in federal government jobs, although the whole process is pretty much the same as with any other job application. Learning how to get a job with the federal government can give you a head start if ever you decide to pursue a government-related career.


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