Whether you’re looking for a new challenge, feel that you aren’t being put to good use in your current agency, or just want a change of scenery, there are a number of options available to you as a federal employee when you are job hunting. Here are eight tips to get you started:
- Develop a strategy: Before you decide to change jobs, think about your career goals and plan out a path that will help you get there. Developing a strategy in advance will not only help you determine if you’re making the right career moves to reach your goals, but it is also looked upon more favorably by agency leaders than individuals who hop from job to job when they get bored.
- Find a mentor: If you can, find a mentor in your office, your target office, or a similar career field who can provide advice on the best way to reach your goals, and ask this individual if changing jobs would be the best strategy (if possible, provide a couple of examples of agencies or positions that interest you). Ask your mentor to not only help you as you begin the application process, but also ask if that person can make any introductions within the new teams/agencies/organizations to which you’re planning to apply so that you can connect with someone who can provide more information about that group.
- Consider what is available in your agency: Whether you want to change jobs because you’re feeling bored or underutilized, or because you’re working toward your larger career goals, the first place you should look for a new position is within your own agency. Talk to your mentor, or find someone in a management position whom you trust and can share your goals with. They might be able to point you in the direction of open positions, or even projects that you might be able to work on from your current job that can expand your skill set.
- Determine where you want to apply: This requires that you take into consideration both physical location and agency, department, and team. Check out OPM’s “Handbook of Occupational Groups and Families,” to determine which job series might best fit your federal career goals. Also think about the job series or grade you want to fall within. Depending on your career path and how different your target position is from your current job, you might need to make a lateral move or even go down a step in order to increase your opportunities in the future. Be sure that you know what you’re getting into and whether you can handle a salary cut, if necessary.
- Use USAJobs to your advantage: In the advanced search function, there is a choice to narrow your search to those jobs that are being offered to individuals who are already federal employees. But remember, not all federal organizations use USAJobs to post their open positions. If you’re targeting an agency that doesn’t use USAJobs, bookmark the site where their openings are kept, and check in once every couple of days.
- Check your skills: Do your target positions require a certain certification or skill? If so, be sure to obtain whatever it is you’ll need before you apply.
- Apply, apply, apply: Choose a multitude of positions you feel would be a good fit, and apply for all of them. And when you do, pay careful attention to the instructions. Read and re-read the requirements for each application and double and triple check that you have supplied everything requested.
- Keep on networking: Look to your personal and professional networks and see who might best be able to help you navigate your next career move. If you aren’t already a member of a professional organization that represents your career or skill set, join one. Look at your alumni group at your college or university, or even reach out to those with whom you’ve worked in the past. Not only is it a great chance to reconnect, but you can find out where these individuals have landed, whether they know of any interesting openings, or whether they know anyone within your target organization who holds a position similar to what you’re looking for or who has in the past.
Have you changed federal jobs? What tips would you share for finding your next adventure?
Don’t forget to pray before you begin trying to navigate the minefield of HR.
Definitely, praying is a key to know if this the new path the Lord want for us to do. If so, no doubt that He will open any door.
Thank you so much, all these tips will help me to improve and to move ahead with my new job hunting.
How do you determine if an agency does NOT use USAJobs? Is there a list of those who do not?
After chatting with a few staffing/admin folks, I’ve learned that only the resume is forwarded for consideration. That said, why bother with a cover letter? Any insight?
I had the same question, and found at least a partial list from a Govloop posting in 2012. Here’s the list, but it may not be complete or completely accurate.
Mission Agency Home Page Employment Information Page
Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/career_opportunities/
U.S. Botanic Garden http://www.usbg.gov/education/get-involved.cfm
Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA) http://www.fas.usda.gov/admin/jobs/jobs.asp
U.S. Botanic Garden http://www.usbg.gov/education/get-involved.cfm
International Trade Administration (DOC) http://www.ita.doc.gov/jobs/
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (DOC) http://usptocareers.gov/
Supreme Court of the United States http://www.supremecourtus.gov/jobs/jobs.html
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/Job_Opportunities/job_opportunities.html
U.S. Bankruptcy Courts http://www.uscourts.gov/careers/
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/mploymnt.html
U.S. Court of International Trade http://www.cit.uscourts.gov/hr/employment.htm
U.S. Courts of Appeals http://www.uscourts.gov/careers/
U.S. District Courts http://www.uscourts.gov/careers/
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/Clerkships.htm#1
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/Clerkships.htm#1
U.S. Court of Federal Claims http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/job-opportunitiesemployment
U.S. Tax Court http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/employment.htm
Administrative Office of the United States Courts http://www.uscourts.gov/employment/ao/index.html
Federal Judicial Center http://www.fjc.gov
U.S. Sentencing Commission http://www.ussc.gov/Jobs.htm
White House Commission on Presidential Scholars [Presidential Scholars Program] http://www.ed.gov/programs/psp/commission.html
National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE) http://humancapital.doe.gov/jobs/
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (DOE) http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/employment.html
Tennessee Valley Authority http://www.tva.gov/employment/
Northwest Power Planning Council http://www.nwcouncil.org/about/employment.htm
Delaware River Basin Commission http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/jobs.htm
National Park Foundation http://www.nationalparks.org/about/employment/
Susquehanna River Basin Commission http://www.srbc.net/about/employ.htm
Valles Caldera Trust & Preserve http://www.vallescaldera.gov/about/employment/
Federal Mgt / Oversight
Office of Government Ethics http://www.usoge.gov/careers.aspx
General Services Administration http://www.gsa.gov
Postal Regulatory Commission http://www.prc.gov/
Social Security Advisory Board http://www.ssab.gov/Internship.html
Federal Reserve System http://www.federalreserve.gov/careers/default.htm
Health Research Service Administration (VA) http://www.hrsa.gov/about/jobs.htm
Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer http://www.federallabs.org/employment/
U.S. Agency for International Development http://www.usaid.gov/careers/
U.S. Foreign Service (U.S. Department of State) http://careers.state.gov/local-employment/employment.html
U.S. Mission to the United Nations ( U.S. Department of State) http://usun.state.gov
Panama Canal Commission http://www.pancanal.com/eng/hr/index.html
International Broadcasting Bureau http://www.bbg.gov/about/jobs/index.html
Peace Corps http://www.peacecorps.gov
Election Assistance Commission http://www.eac.gov/about/employment
Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/hr/employment/index.php
U.S. House of Representatives http://www.house.gov/cao-hr/
U.S. Senate http://www.senate.gov/reference/Index/Employment.htm
Federal Air Marshall Service (DHS) http://www.tsa.gov/join/index.shtm
Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS) http://www.fema.gov
Transportation Security Administration (DHS) http://www.tsa.gov/join/index.shtm
U.S. Secret Service (DHS) http://www.secretservice.gov/opportunities.shtml
Central Intelligence Agency https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/index.html
Defense Intelligence Agency (DOD) http://www.dia.mil/employment/index.html
National Security Agency (DOD) http://www.nsa.gov/careers/index.shtml
United States Capitol Police http://www.uscapitolpolice.gov/apply.php
Federal Bureau of Investigation (DOJ) http://www.fbijobs.gov/
Federal Aviation Administration (DOT) http://www.faa.gov/jobs/
AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) http://www.amtrak.com
U.S. Postal Service http://www.usps.com