September 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm #170146
I have a friend who is a government-employed nurse and is looking to advance her career in another federal government field. Even though she is at the highest GS level, she’s having trouble finding work and it’s likely because she’s being typecast as a nurse.
How can she convey the skills she’s gained from nursing (leadership, people-skills, ability to work under pressure) in a way that makes her marketable for other government positions?
Have any of you switched career paths within the federal government? How did you do it and do you have any tips?
October 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm #170158
This is a tough one. It is definitely possible to change job series codes in government but it’s not easy.
Personally I moved from a 343 program analyst to 2210 IT specialist and have known others that have moved.
-You have to “sell” why you fit in a new career series. In my own move, I already had a bunch of IT experience so I played that up in my resume
-Find a place in need. Overall if an agency has only a few openings and enough applicants, there’s little incentive for them to take a risk on someone transferring job series. Look for agencies that are hiring like crazy so are desparate for good people and willing to take chances. Further, find an agency that likes your current background – I feel there are probably tons of places in HHS that would love to hire a former nurse as a program analyst. It also depends on what specialty of nurse she was – maybe a VA nurse, VA HQ would like to hire to help reform an oversight program on the hospitals
-People – In the end, a lot of it is finding someone to take a risk. Make sure you are networking & have a mentor to help in the decision.
October 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm #170156
Most upper graded (GS12-15) positions require the applicant to have at least one year of experience at the next lower grade which would demonstrate the skill set required by the job series. Depending on where you apply, the HR reviewer may just look to see if you served one year at the next lower grade in the same job series and screen you in or out on that basis alone. There is not much you can do about that. Nevertheless, take time to fully answer all screening questions and give specific examples demonstrating you have the skill set required by the job series at the next lower grade.
Personally, I think OPM’s job series classifications are more appropriate for the 19th rather than the 21st century and are one of the most counterproductive aspects of federal employment but they are unlikely to change anytime soon so we just have to live with them.
October 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm #170154
Renee Lynn GarbarkParticipant
Thank you. This is good advice. I wouldn’t have thought of HHS.
October 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm #170152
Funny… I moved from a 2210 (policy and planning) to a 343 (GS-15). Maybe you and I just swapped billets, Steve. Ha!
My move was “sold” as a result of the fact that I was clearly doing a lot more management / leadership / politics than I was doing IT. I was needed in a non-IT capacity.
I agree with selling. The people to people interaction is important. I wouldn’t think a simple resume submission would be enough to convince someone that a candidate from another series is a good fit.
October 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm #170150
FDA is another possible choice for a nurse.
October 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm #170148
That’s too bad that we can’t retain nurses in their career field. There is a real shortage of nurses and we need to keep all we can. Having said that, she should have no problem bridging into an administrative field, as long as she has the experience. If she doesn’t have the experience, she can look into rotational opporunities/details to obtain the experience.
It’s just sad that we can’t retain our good nurses. At least she should be able to get a supervisory position. It is harder for non-medical professionals to break into nursing than it is for nurses to break into administrative positions.
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