3 Tips on Planning Your Federal Career Based on Vacancies

Every week I pick out the top 10 government jobs by a variety of job types at our jobs.govloop.com Part of doing this each week has actually gave me a much better sense on government job openings – what agencies and job types are hiring.

Here’s my 3 tips based on this information:

1) Don’t rule out DOD or VA – Literally 50% or more of job openings each week are DOD or VA openings. If you aren’t open to these openings, you have cut your chances in 1/2 just there.

2) Pick your job series wisely – Here’s the number of job openings in the past week on USAJOBS by opening:

-117 acquisition jobs, 16 auditing jobs, 51 budget job openings, 14 communication/public affairs jobs, 130 HR jobs, 212 IT jobs, 73 program management jobs, and 202 generalist jobs (program analysts)

So here’s the issue – if your career is focused on being on auditor or communications professionals, there’s just not that many openings and you need to be aware of it. Literally 10X more IT jobs.

3) Check out generalist openings – Don’t miss out on some good openings tied to your niche. The generalist program analyst series as well as program manager series have a lot of really interesting jobs that could easily be placed in a specific IT or HR or Auditing series. I’ve seen roles that are Acquisition directors or Deputy CIO or Association Workforce Directors that I would have guessed would have been under IT/HR/Acq but often aren’t (sometimes they are cross-posted there as well but not always)

Looking for more information on government jobs? Check out GovLoop’s salary calculator.

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Elisabeth Leiting

What would you think of the clerical series, and the types of jobs that clerical type workers should apply to?

Barbara R. Musser

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the advise in applying for Federal jobs. Approximately, two weeks ago, I applied for an opening for a Public Affairs Coordinator under the Legislative Branch for the Library of Congress. My application is being reviewed, however, this does not necessarily mean that I will have the opportunity to be interviewed.

Unfortuantely, I was not able to locate a contact to follow-up on the status of this position.


Henry Brown

Would also suggest for those applying for IT jobs that they at least look at generalist openings… Some agencies use the generalist series to get around the hiring of IT outside of the IT department and because, in some cases, there is a cost savings to hiring a generalist to avoid paying the premium pay…

David B. Grinberg

AWESOME post, Steve, very informative an interesting. Other than USAJobs, I would repeat that old saying, “Follow the money” regarding agency budgets. Those agencies with budget increases — or at least those that don’t suffer massive cuts — will most likely be more likely to have openings. Also, personal and professional networking may help on a macro or micro basis. Thanks again for the great info, Steve!


Elisabeth Leiting

I would say 0592 and 0303. I have spent time in both series and liked it. Would like to specialize and go on a ladder.

Stuart Wheeless

I think Elisabeth is on the right track with applying to the job series she listed but I would also like to suggest she apply for the 0301 series jobs, too. It will allow more opportunities to expand her skills set plus increase chances of getting promoted in the future.

I would like to put something out there related to this topic to see if anyone has suggestions. Briefly, I’m a federal employee attempting to relocate back to Charleston where I moved from with my family 5 years ago to accept a promotion in a nearby state. Since then, my career has progressed within the 0301 series (Program Management) to the 0341 series (Administrative Officer), so I was surprised when I was able to successfully make the switch from one series to the next. My family and I really want to go back to Charleston where federal jobs are plentiful, but we’re open to anywhere along the SC coast and perhaps Columbia.

Here’s my situation: Over the past 6-9 months, I’ve stepped up my job search with USA JOBS and search applicable federal agency websites by setting up a profile, getting vacancy announcements sent to my email, or posting my resume on the websites to make it searchable. I’ve applied for several positions in which I felt qualified in the 03 series – including the ones I’ve listed plus 0343 (Management Analyst). By the way, I have almost 12 years federal civilian emperience so I have plenty of tenure, GS-11, 5-points veterans preference (VRA), and a master’s degree in Management and Leadership. Most of the time, my application is referred to the selecting official for further consideration and possible interview. I never recieved an offer for an interview. Sometimes I’ll recieve an email notication letter indicating someone else was selected for the position or I won’t receive anything. The HR point of contact on the job announcement can only tell me if I was referred to the selecting official or not. I’m confident in my writing skills, write my own resumes groomed to fit the job announcement and questionnaire, and have even used the same format or template of resumes suggested in a book reflecting how to obtain a federal job, How To Land A Top-Paying Federal Job. The resumes reflect the same information found in a USA JOBS resume.

Obviously, it helps if one already knows someone at the federal agency in which one applies for a vacant position, but I don’t know anyone at the federal agencies in which I’ve applied. I think once I sit down with the selecting official or interview panel over the phone or in person, that’s when I can shine and prove that I’m the 1% risk free candidate.

What are my best options at this point to getting to the next step – getting an interview? A selecting official has the option of interviewing some, all, or none of the applicants – depending on how they want to fill the vacant position.

Carol Davison

How does one check out generalist openings? There are too many to look at them all. I work in performance and development and those terms don’t screen many jobs out at my grade.