How Did You Land Your First Federal Job?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Traci 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #157018

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    I get this question a lot from people hoping to get a job with the Federal government … and not just from people who are unemployed or seeking to change careers but from people who have reached a point in their lives when they are ready to give back through service to our country!

    So I thought I’d share my story … and hope that others will do the same! Perhaps sharing what worked for us will provide great insight to those trying to figure out what works best for them!

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    Technically, my first “federal job” was with the Navy [but I have a feeling you’re not interested in how I landed that job :-)]. Even still, civil service employment was my next dip in pond; it came several years later once I’d earned my Master’s degree and after I’d gained additional years of private sector experience.

    The first thing I discovered, before ever filling out a civil service application, was that my education gave me the basic qualifications in my field of study, for positions starting at the GS-9 grade level; this was great information and helped me narrow my job search to the grade levels for which I qualified. If you don’t know at what grade level you meet the government’s basic qualifications, the OPM Qualification Standards is the place to find out. And, I have to admit, It also helped to have Veteran’s Preference but … honestly … one MUST first qualify for the job before Veteran’s Preference provides any benefits to the applicant.

    I spent about 10 months making my job search my “job” so, even after spending 8 hours each day working at my private sector job, I’d come home and spend another 4-6 hours each evening searching USAJobs (and it’s predecessor) to find vacancies for which I met the qualifications. I tailored my applications to each vacancy, and made follow-up status inquiries about the jobs in which I had the most interest.

    I didn’t let rejection letters get me down either; they actually spurred me on to work harder, to learn more about the next jobs in which I had interest, and I also learned a lot from the HR contacts named in each announcement about how I could make myself more competitive for the next job. I used that information to get additional experience and training, when it was necessary.

    To my good fortune, one day a vacancy was announcement in my home town; I applied, I was found qualified, and I was selected!

    Ten years passed … and it was time to move on.

    The first thing I had to figure out was how to transition to something more challenging. That’s when I read about The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government … and I got busy again. There were several vacancies with employers in the Top 10 on that list so I started applying only to the vacancies announced by those organization and for which I qualified … and I was persistent! Every time a job in my field opened up with one of those organizations, I applied for it! When I didn’t get selected, I queried those HR contacts again. Some people helped, some didn’t. But I used what I did find out to better my changes with the next opportunities.

    I interviewed for my current job about the same time that I interviewed for two others. In preparation, I actually wrote out my answers one week ahead of time to those interview questions I THOUGHT I’d be asked. I worked on my answers everyday to improve my responses and to get comfortable with them; I wanted to “hit the nail” on each question’s proverbial “head” with each employer. So I also had to do a bit of research to find out what the current issues were for each employer. Long story short … I ended up with job OFFERS!!! Not one, not two, but all three!

    There are many good sites on the internet were you can find interview questions … here’s one that might get you started: http://www.interviewquestions.com.

    How did you get your first Federal job?

  • #157026

    Traci
    Participant

    Thank you for the great article. You offered many helpful tips I can use right away. I have often thought about contacting the HR professionals listed at the end of vacancy announcements; but didn’t know if it was appropriate, now I will. I need to remember to be persistent no matter how long this process takes. Thanks again for the wonderful pointers!

  • #157024

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    You’re welcome, Traci!

  • #157022

    Jenyfer Johnson
    Participant

    I got my first Federal job after I had been working for Newport News Shipyard, in VA, (a government contractor) for a few years. I was looking to relocate to CA and found that Mare Island Naval Shipyard, north of San Francisco, was hiring so I filled out the SF-171 and mailed it in. (Yes, in those days you filled it out long-hand and snail-mailed them in) In a few weeks I received a notice back that I qualified for the position and was being considered. In a few more weeks I was called for a phone interview and received a call a week later informing me that I had the position if I wanted it (which I accepted). They paid for my move (which was nice) and I started about a month later. The position was an Electronics/Electrical Designer for Los Angeles Class Submarine overhauls….and the job I was leaving was Electronics/Electrical Designer for Los Angeles Class Submarine new construction. It was a great fit!

    I worked at Mare Island Shipyard for 10 years; 7 as a Designer and 3 as the Hazardous Waste Manager (re-hired & re-trained after a RIF). I found another job working for the Air Force when Mare Island went on the BRAC list in 1994. The job was originally offered to a friend but she had just accepted another job and she referred them to me….I sent them my info, they offered and I accepted. Again, it was a perfect fit and I’ve been here ever since!

  • #157020

    Jeff S
    Participant

    I applied for a job with the State of Ohio. While dropping off the application I discussed the application requirements with the HR secretary. We had a nice visit and I called her every other day for three months requesting she submit my application for various positions that opened up. Finally I was hired by the State. 17 months later the Republican Governor elect was looking for jobs to cut. Since I was federally licensed stste employee the feds picked my entire agency up and that is how I became a fed. 22 and a half years later I am still with the original agency.

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