Experience with USAJobs

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Ron 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #236855

    Heather Kerrigan

    What has your past experience been like with USAJobs? I’m looking for the good and the bad for an upcoming post. If it were up to you, what would you change? Or, what changes are you hoping to see made when version 2.0 is released early next year?

  • #236861

    Hannah Moss

    The experience required for jobs is always stated but rarely clear. What counts as relevant experience and how do you map private sector experience to GS levels?

  • #236862

    Marie Koko

    1) Echoing Hannah, I have learned and taught my clients the trick of using OPM’s Federal Classifications Series descriptions and the announcement application questionnaire to source keywords, but it would be easier if you didn’t have to hunt for them in three different places in order to present a strong application. 2) It would also be nice if agencies made it a LOT clearer whether an internship is spring only, fall only or some combo thereof, or summer. 3) W/R/T Recent Grads jobs, if agencies would make a statement in the announcement that a student who will be graduated within (say) 1 month of the closing date may apply (as they would be graduated by the start date of the job which is bound to be more than a month from the close date) so that folks about to graduate aren’t frustrated feeling like the true entry level opportunities are not an option until long after they’ve wanted to begin their applications for jobs.

  • #237192

    Brian Edward J.

    It has been a waste of time. I have used the system for over 15 years…(used the old phone system before that) and nothing has ever come out of it. I have completed several hundred applications over that period. I have only been called once or twice… and from that I only had one interview… and (factoring in the travel costs, hotel, food, etc) it ended up being a huge waste of money…. not to mention a waste of time.

    If you are not a veteran, a current or former full-time Federal employee, if you don’t have a needed rare/special skill that almost no one else has, or if you don’t know the hiring manager or have access to a hiring manager via someone else….. then you are basically wasting your time in 98% of cases. (I just wish USAjobs/OPM and the agencies would be honest about that, rather that keeping up the illusion for people who don’t fit the above categories, and who believe that they actually have a chance).

    I have recently started putting applications in again, after not being very active on the site for the last year or more… hoping for a miracle. But I now do so with the expectation that I won’t get a positive response. I have gone from 3-5 applications a week to 1 or 2 in a month.

    USAjobs/OPM is a mess. The hiring reform from a few years ago… turned out to be a big failure. It’s a huge time waster, and the entire Federal hiring system isn’t fair at all. Advertising that jobs are open to “all citizens” is incredibly misleading. The fact is… rules and guidelines (point system, special eligibility programs) were created to determine who is hired before you even apply. Winners and losers are already determined for the most part. I found this out late in the game…. after having faith for the first 10-12 years that I would eventually get a break… grinding away…year after year, month after month, week after week, despite repeated rejections. I finally figured out that the system didn’t work…and wasn’t fair (basically rigged). I was coming to that conclusion on my own… but right around that time I was also reading more and more stories from other people in the months leading up to and during reform. The other stories were similar to my experiences and confirmed my suspicions.

    I am giving it another try this year anyway.

  • #237284

    Sheila McKie

    I understand how Mr. Brian feels. I experienced the same. Also, the questions attached to the vacancy announcement causes people to lie. If the questionnaire responses don’t reflect the highest numbers, your name will not make it to the certification list. Hopefully, OPM will go back to the drawing board soon.

  • #237290

    Asa A. Wynn

    Understand completely due to Brian’s experience with the system; to include the resources (time, costs) used. I am a “retired military” person (actually born/raised where Brian is), and I also experience the issues of not being considered after applying. Like Marie mentioned, one part is the “trick” of applying the classification/job keywords that helps bring the resume “up the consideration chain.” But, as we all know to be rumored … in most cases, it’s also about “who you know” that provides the additional “push.” Unfortunately, this is a common factor in most areas.

    One factor is that departments wish to hire from within. Nothing wrong with that, but (in responding with Heather’s questions relating to change), do not place “open jobs” in USAJOBS with a three to five day window due to the system’s “legality of job advertisement,” … especially if/when the authority has someone already considered. This, along with the disability rating of the applicant are “weighed” provides frustration Brian and others continue to face.

    Agree with Sheila … the system can use some revamping; to include USAJOBS placing some methods of hiring transparency (not the fine print versions) on how people are considered.

  • #237312


    I absolutely do not agree with Brian, Sheila and Asa. USAjobs.gov serves its purposes just fine. What you need to realize is that the demand is a lot higher with the federal position than it is with the private sector. It doesn’t take more than a couple of hours for hundreds and even thousands of resumes to be submitted under a new requisition announcement on USAjobs.gov. If your resume doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t matter how many jobs you have applied for in the past, the hiring manager will not second-look at your resume.

    I am not a veteran (although I did serve in the Army Reserves for several years) and I absolutely do not have any connection to the hiring managers (who are usually GS-15’s), but I was recently hired by the federal government. If you possess right skill sets that the requisition is asking for, you will be selected for an interview. It works exactly the same as the private sector, but just a bit harder on a government side because there are so many applicants competing for each position.

    From my experience, the hiring process was absolutely fair for every candidate (ie, after you get selected for the interview). To make sure that the process is not biased to any specific candidate, there is a QA person either physically sitting in the interview or on the conference call just listening to the whole interview process. QA makes sure that every candidate is treated with the consistent difficulty of interview questions.

    I’m an engineer, so I can probably only speak for the engineering positions. I have BS and MS degrees in engineering from a top tier school and I have worked in the private sector for five years. I have received several phone calls regarding positions ranging from GS-9 to GS-12 in the past. The position I took is a GS-12 position.

    There are a lot more federal jobs that are only available for the federal employees, which you can verify on USAjobs.gov. For the jobs that hiring managers want to fill in immediately with candidates pre-selected for the position are usually posted internally. And honestly, even in such situation he/she would have to compete for the position if it is a competing position.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by  Jay.
  • #237347

    Oscar Ahumada

    Thanks for this question. Before I get to my changes, I’d like to note that the idea of having USAJOBS, a single place to search for all jobs in the federal government, is awesome. It promotes personnel movement between agencies, improving job performance, career management, and personal growth. That said, any website could always use some improvements, including USAJOBS. Here are my recommendations:

    Overall, the format needs to be simplified to accommodate smaller screens and mobile devices. Even on full sized monitors it’s too cluttered with a mishmash of columns, font colors and bold, tabs, and hover menus. They really need some UX help! Furthermore all the extraneous formatting makes manipulating the information laborious unless you’re an API/XML guru.

    Search: The really, really useful feature I’d like to see the ability to exclude terms (i.e., NOT). For example, I’d to have the ability to search for jobs in Florida but not Miami, or jobs in the 01 series but not Social Work, or jobs in Treasury but not the OCC, or jobs that pay more than $175K but aren’t doctors or lawyers (Please note, I have nothing against Social Workers who work at OCC in Miami making $200K). With the current search system, there is no easy way of performing these searches.

    Likewise, I’d like to have the ability to exclude a job from search results, just like we currently have the ability to save a job. (note: this would be similar to the “hide” function in application status)
    Speaking of Application Status, more informative feedback would be better than the generic one or two sentences we typically get. Also Application Status updates need to be timelier, in line with OPM’s guidance. The ultimate solution would be to include a timeline in the announcement itself.

    Finally, Questionnaires: ditch them. They add no value to the information that’s already included in the announcement or should be covered in the applicant’s resume. Most applicant have figured this is a game of picking the best option, whether or not it’s true is up to HR to figure out base on the resume.

  • #237382

    Mark Cameron Harris

    I would like to be able to have my saved searches (any searches) only show me vacancies for which I am in the “Who can apply” population. All this would require would be to collect relevant data in my profile and then use that data to filter the ads. As an IT professional, I know this should be a nearly trivially easy technical change.

    Also, I am sure the specialized terminology of the OPM and particular agencies is a barrier to people who have not acquired a lot of federal HR experience. Having worked with the system for 28 years (20 as an active duty supervisor of civilians), I still find the system and language daunting. I am sure a person with no federal experience would be facing a very steep and opaque curve.

    Last, as someone who’s hired through this system, the system of standard position descriptions and the ads based on them often make it nearly impossible to attract applicants with the needed skills. The system is too standardized. I have no doubt suitable applicants are out there, but we are unable to advertise for the actual skills we need. In the IT arena, those may change frequently. The classification process (in the Air Force) takes so long, we can rarely afford to amend position descriptions. When we try, we are usually straightjacketed into standard position descriptions that do not fit our needs.

  • #239318

    Robert J. Newman

    My experience is very similar to Brian’s. I have been a Fed employee for 5 years. I am at the top of the grade in my current position. I am just starting to get on the “best qualified” list for positions that I apply for but these are for jobs that are 2 grades lower than my current grade. My extensive 25 year career experience does not seem to account for anything. I would like to see some sort of credit given (meaning ability to answer questions about pre-gov experience) for your complete life’s work and not just what you have done in the last 2 years.

  • #239343


    My experience is horrible with USAJobs. I dont event count it as a reliable site for opportunities anymore. I have spent numerous hours applying on that site, only for it to stall, lock me out and loose hrs worth of my very detailed application. #icant

    I have a relative who has success with it-jobs in AK and MT. So, I guess it works for some. She’s been In Fed system for 3 decades or more, so well networked in the system. I’m contract/Fed/out of the internal network. Challenging is not the word to describe this system.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  MYRA.
  • #239416

    Christian MacMillan

    My experience with USAJobs has been both good AND bad. After I retired from active duty military service (USMC, 32 yrs) I applied for two local jobs via USAJobs and was hired a few months later – actually 6 1/2 months later. That’s the good. Before I move onto the bad, I’d like to comment on Jay’s post above that there is a QA person to ensure adherence to standards. I can state unequivocally that was not the case in my hiring. The hiring manager, ultimately my supervisor, and two other interviewers, people who would ultimately be co-workers were present. No one else. I suspect some organizations do it by the numbers, while others do it their own way, including actually following through the entire process so all candidates are notified of their status and the final disposition.

    Now the bad. Although I’m employed and like where I work, the local job market in Federal Civil Service provides little if any upward mobility, so I have continued to look for appropriate opportunities and apply for them. In the past 12 months alone, I have been referred to a hiring official for consideration 17 times with 0 contact from any of the hiring officials. The disparity between my “good” experience and my “bad” experience is even further amplified by my current status as a 30% Compensable Disabled Veteran which I did not have when I was originally hired. Furthermore, I have only received notification via USAJobs of the outcome in about half of those indicating the final disposition. I believe one of the best improvements would be to audit the agencies using it and hold them accountable to the process.

    In fairness, when compared to private sector systems, USAJobs does provide more transparency of the hiring process. It could just be better and “better” would increase the trust that the system won’t/can’t be “gamed” by insiders.

  • #240579

    Scott Hutchens

    I agree with everything Brian has to say and I am in the same boat. 11 years for me……two tests no interviews. Made it past consideration stage on one out of 54 applications this year so far. Site and process improved? Not at all from my point of view. I read above ….the only two positive comments are those that served already in the military, returning fed emp. situation. The third balked at promotional opportunities…..at least you have a fed job and have about 1.2 billion more options than the rest of us. The real problem is the culture not the website. How do you prove it as a citizen and get the information to the right person to do the right thing? It’s as easy as a citizen trying to get a fed job with no “Points” so in other words it’s a waste of words. But I am insane so will continue to apply expecting different results.

  • #258781


    The problem is the transparency precludes someone from networking. For instance with a private company I could seek out someone I may know there or a hiring manager and build a repore but with USA jobs you are just a number on a screen until you get down to the final interviews. What good is transparency if it puts you at a disadvantage.

    If you have no way to build a bridge around the massive pool of applicants then it is effectively like buying lottery tickets (and people will buy them because job security in our nation today is scarce because employers have very little legal accountability to the citizens of this nation in which they operate in and enjoy the benefits, nice road and security, etc but that is another issue). I mean outside of the vet preference points how does the computer even assign points for other things (key words, phrases, etc?). Do you get points for having a relevant BS/MS for the position? Professional certifications? etc.

    Also there is no feed back, I would like to know if I am “ate up” and how to fix my situation so I am getting interviews and job offers (do I need an MS degree, more professional certs, specialized training, etc)

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Ron.

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