I have talked to many people on staff and many who applied and ended up working for someone else, for this very reason. Had the same experience with my applying for gov work. It was almost a year before I heard anything on some of the jobs I had applied for. I was working private sector by then.

I had an excellent private sector resume but never got that call back on gov jobs. If I took my resume to a resume help desk at a job fair, they went through it and handed it back saying I was good to go. The last job I applied for (and got) was a career ladder, permanent, position. I was determined to get it and decided the best option was to hire an expert in gov resumes to help me with gov speak. I gathered my work history, wrote my resume and turned it over to the expert. She highlighted some areas where I addressed the skills outlined in the announcement, put some in all caps, asked me some questions, and voila! My resume, much the same format I always had, hits the top of certs every time now. Your average graduate won’t have funds to do this.

The whole process was intimidating. Then there was all the negativity about my going to the gov job from the people I worked with. Because public sector is always depicted as lazy and not helpful. If they knew the hoops we had to jump through to do the minimal job, they would know that there are very few real slackers in gov jobs.