Is applying for a federal job through USAJOBS required?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Camille Roberts 5 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #153373

    Ari Herzog
    Member

    Question says it all.

    I’m considering federal employment in the greater Boston region. I see how to navigate the unfriendly website, but I also see jobs list HR contacts. Thus I wonder if it’s required to apply through the website for a posted job, or if I can email my information to the contact directly.

    And, I heard a rumor not all agencies post on the website. How to find those agencies?

  • #153407

    Camille Roberts
    Participant

    Hi Ari,

    Excellent question. I get asked this almost daily. The answer is: it depends…on what you are applying for and where. Most Federal government positions are going to be announced through USAJOBS.gov, but not all of them.

    The BEST answer, from me, is follow the “How to Apply” instructions on the job announcement PRECISELY. Do not submit the application materials to the contact unless the announcement states to do so…if you want to get hired…faster. Use the announcement as a guide. Print it if you need to, and check off each item as you complete it, and follow the instructions for applying.

    If you want to accelerate your job search for best results, I recommend that you create TWO resumes in the Resume area of your account. Build a resume using the online Resume Builder either by creating the information manually, or pasting from a Word document. Then, upload your nicely formatted, attention-getting professional resume created with Word into the Saved Documents area. This is called the “uploaded resume”–the other option under Resume in your account.

    Some announcements now allow you to apply to a position with a resume created in Word. Again, read the anouncement carefully and follow every instruction. Be sure to make one of your resumes searchable. This allows your resume to be sorted into the results of queries by recruiters sourcing candidates, which could increase your chances of being “found.”

    You asked about how to find agencies that do not list announcements on USAJOBS. Most of these are excepted service positions as opposed to competitive civil service positions. Here is a link that should help you:

    http://www.usajobs.gov/ResourceCenter/Index/Interactive/ExceptedSer

    Also, there are some senior executive service (SES) announcements that require just the uploaded resume and narratives in a Word document. Even just a year ago, most SES submissions were required to be submitted on paper. This is where it is critical that they be professional. In either case, the candidate has an advantageous opportunity to submit a strategic, compelling, nicely formatted and professionally written resume to demonstrate his/her value.

    I hope this information helps you. If you have other questions, feel free to post them here, or write me at [email protected].

    I wish you the best your job search!

    Camille

  • #153405

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    ALLFederal Agencies are required to post General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) vacancies on USAJobs if they are recruiting outside their own Department/Agency.

    Having said that, Federal employers may recruit to fill vacancies through Schedule A, B, and C appointing authorities and these do not always make it to the USAJobs website; that’s because these types of appointments are “excepted” and do not require competition.

    Title 5 USC § 2301 requires Federal employers to assure “Fair and Open Competition” under the Merit System Principles. Once a job has opened to the public, the law disallows HR Specialist from accepting resumes directly from applicants because all applicants must receive the same treatment under the law. The reason you see the names of HR representative listed in every job announcement is to allow applicants a means by which to ask questions about a job vacancies and/or to get further information before submitting their USAJobs application; emaiing your information directly to the HR Specialist, however, is not recommended.

    If you find it difficult to navigate the USAJobs website, know that this site is easier to navigate than most sites that Federal employees maneuver in the course of a normal workday! Perhaps it would be helpful to think of the USAJobs website as a type of “gatekeeper” that screens applicant’s from the very beginning to see if they’re really cut out to handle the daily frustrations one is expected to handle as a Federal employee.

  • #153403

    Jeff Ribeira
    Member

    I’m not positive this is a best practice for applying to federal positions, but if they list an HR contact, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to establish at least some form of human contact. While I wouldn’t send them my application directly (unless of course, like Camille says, the instructions say to do so) I think it’s a good idea to sometimes send a quick email or even a phone call if there’s a number, reaffirming your interest, perhaps asking a few strategic questions, etc.

    Actually, now that I think of it, if there are any actual HR people out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this practice. Does sending a personal email message (not a full application) help a candidate’s chances any, or is it just annoying?

  • #153401

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    Hi Jeff! Thanks for the question … and the answer is nope! (see my reply above for reasons).

  • #153399

    Jeff S
    Participant

    Depends, most jobs yes but if you have a buddy sometimes strings can be pulled to bring you in under an internship program and slot in place permanently.

  • #153397

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    Internship programs are not competitive. They fall under Schedule B (Sched E/Pathyways) as Excepted appointments.

  • #153395

    This is excellent info. As someone who might apply for a federal job in the not-too-distant future, I say thanks to all for the info!

  • #153393

    Camille Roberts
    Participant

    I agree, Jeff! It is always good to make that human connection. I recommend looking to see if the contact is on GovLoop, LinkedIn, BeKnown, or BranchOut and reach out to them, and certainly a direct brief introductory email can’t hurt. It is difficult to know when someone appreciates the candidate reaching out vs. someone who is already overwhelmed with emails. There are a lot of great ways to make that connection with social media–the first one being email. <smile>

  • #153391

    Doris Tirone
    Participant

    While I agree that “making the connection” is a good idea with many types of employers, especially in the private sector, there is absolutely no advantage in “making the connection” for that purpose with HR Specialists listed in Federal vacancy announcements.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t remind readers that HR Specialists in the Federal government often times work hundreds of miles away from their customers, in Regional Offices that support many different agencies or locales. Indeed, in many cases HR Specialists are working on hundreds of vacancy announcements at various stages of the recruitment process and rarely have time to “connect” with applicants except to provide them with information and/or to reply to their questions sent by email. For purposes of Federal employment, the best connections one can make are done so AFTER the applicant is contacted for an interview.

  • #153389

    Ari Herzog
    Member

    What is the benefit of using the resume builder in addition to an uploaded resume? Are there aspects of the builder that are not in stereotypical resumes that employers are keyword searching for?

  • #153387

    Camille Roberts
    Participant

    Hi Ari,

    A couple of benefits of the online Resume Builder is for the person who is new to the federal hiring process, as well as someone who does not have a resume created in Word. The online Resume Builder will “guide” the person through building their resume, including all the details that are required of a federal resume.

    Yes, there are aspects of the builder not found in what is referred to as private sector resumes, but this information is not keyword related per se. These “aspects” include supervisor names and contact information, whether or not the supervisor can be contacted, number of hours worked per week, salary, and relevant coursework, to name a few. Keywords are important for both private sector and federal resumes.

    Another “benefit” is there are a lot of job announcements that require that you apply with the resume created using the Resume Builder, rather than the uploaded resume created in Word.

    Does that help answer your question?

    Camille

  • #153385

    Camille Roberts
    Participant

    I agree, Doris. It is difficult to know who might be receptive to someone reaching out. My clients have had good success connecting and I know the HR representatives are always good about helping to answer questions and issues that might be related to the job announcement. Recently, an announcement has some conflicting information. I asked my client to call or email the contact to make her aware of the situation and she called my client within a few hours to let him know she would fix the announcement and gave him the additional information we needed. I know they can be overwhelmed with emails, but try to help as much as possible…so connecting does have to be strategically.

  • #153383

    Ari Herzog
    Member

    OK, thanks, that’s helpful.

    One more question if you don’t mind: How important is detail in job experiences? Meaning, I currently lump several teaching assignments into a larger experiential bullet on my internet training. Would an agency using this website prefer to see each teaching assignment separated out?

  • #153381

    Camille Roberts
    Participant

    Detail is important, but how much and what is hard to guage without really taking into account the whole situation. Since I take a strategic approach, I would need to review your resume and it would be great if I could review a job announcement you are interested in applying to so that I could give you solid advice based on your situation. If you don’t have a current job announcement, you could let me know a couple of job titles you are interested in pursuing.

    Feel free to send it to me at [email protected] .

  • #153379

    Dennis V. Damp
    Participant

    Most jobs are advertised on USAJobs, however there are still a few agencies that advertise their jobs individually. For a list of all agencies and their recruiting sites visit http://www.federaljobs.net. Yes, if the job is posted on USAJobs you must apply online using their online resume builder to submit your application and they generally list an HR contact that you can email or call if you need assistance. The application and federal style resume is considerably more detailed than the private sector resume you are familiar with. Look up a copy of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs, the new 11th edition for complete guidance on how to apply and much more. This book is also available at many libraries for check out. Prepare you resume offline using the guidance in the book and then copy and paste the information into the online USAJobs resume builder.

    Dennis Damp, author of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs

  • #153377

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    There may be an exceptions to the rule, BUT if the agency “advertises” on USAJobs, the only way that you will get considered for the job is to apply thru USAJobs… the HR contact is usually the one providing the connection between USAjobs and the hiring department. …

    There is a list of excepted services agencies which are NOT required to USAjobs, currently the list is ~50 agencies. Each of them have their own websites which probably would require searching each one for current job openings for Boston area….

  • #153375

    Eileen K
    Participant

    Please do NOT email your information directly to the HR contact. READ the instructions for the vacancy announcement and follow the instructions in HOW TO APPLY and REQUIRED DOCUMENTS. Human Resources employees are not the hiring officials for federal agencies, so, unlike the private sector, contacting them directly to build a networking relationsship will not be of benefit. Some of the vacancies have hundreds of applicants.

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