I have been helping people land government jobs and promotions for 23+ years. You are right.–it can feel like you have to crack the code! You have many wonderful suggestions by the people here!
I have numerous free articles and tips at http://www.job-hunt.org. Scroll down to Federal Job Search. If you have been trying for many years, might I suggest you have someone review your online profile with USAJOBS.gov? I have identified many mistakes people make in the online resume builder as well as the profile itself. The most common mistake is not making the resume searchable. I find that people upload the .doc file and think that is good enough. That is not the case. You must read the job announcements very carefully and do exactly as instructed. If a .doc is acceptable then be sure it is in the Saved Documents area of the builder. If you must use the builder, you cannot use a .doc to apply. I have written an eBook which you can also find at http://www.job-hunt.org, or write me privately at [email protected] and I will send it to you. I am currently updating it to reflect changes in the new USAJOBS 3.0. I once found a check box that wasn’t being checked in a profile that was preventing a client from getting past the applicant tracking system. You have to be extremely careful to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. <g>
Also, I am a Resume Reviewer for the Rock Your Resume Group here on GovLoop. Have you submitted your resume for review? Let me know. Don’t give up! I have many clients who would tell you the same. It is a process that requires meticulous details to be attentive to in order to be successful…but you CAN be successful.