Transferring between federal government agencies – Easy or Difficult?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Elizabeth Sullivan 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #182664

    Reenie DeSaini

    I’m a newbie to the federal government. I’m the type of person who likes to move around within an organization. With that in mind, is it relatively easy to transfer between government agencies once you become a government employee?

  • #182674

    Elizabeth Sullivan

    I’ve seen a lot of people transferring agencies within the govt, so I think it’s relatively easy.

  • #182672

    Terrence Hill

    Actually, the easier option is to be detailed to another organization. All you need is an MOU for this. Reassignments are a little trickier, since they require personnel actions, but once you have status lateral reassignments can be done non-competitively. The trick is locating a position that is open and doesn’t have promotion potential higher than your position. The hardest way to move is applying for an open position that requires you to compete with others. Your odds of being selected for a competitively advertised position are reduced substantially, even though the reward is often a promotion.

  • #182670

    Steve Ressler

    +1 to all of Terry’s tips.

    I’ve moved within government in couple ways

    -Applying to jobs on USAJOBS that are for current feds (lots of jobs only are open to current feds)

    -Lateral reassignment

    You have to do some work – other agencies don’t just say we are looking for smart people, interview on Wed at 3pm (have to apply, takes work, etc) but definitely doable. Would be same in any large company (transferring within Target or GM or 3M)

  • #182668

    Earl Rice

    Somewhere I read that only 20% of Federal Government (maybe less than that) have served in more than one Agency. I belong to the minority on this. I have also moved around and worked in 5 different locations. Competing for a new job is probably the only way you will get there now days. There’s a lot of talk about getting MOUs, and details to other Agencies (works great in Law Enforcement). But in the budget crunches and resulting manpower shortages (not to mention unofficial reductions in force), nobody can afford to lose a good worker for any extended period of time (ergo more than about 2 weeks).

    The lower the grade, the easier it is to move. Now, you should be careful about hoping all over the place. Remember, it’s an extreme minority that served in more than one Agency. If you move from one Agency to another for a promotion, people tend to look favorably at it. If it is a lateral move, just be cautious. I will give an example here: There was an HR Specialist that was a GS11 for the Department of the Air Force, and then after 2 years moved to the Department of the Army as a GS11. Then after 2 years moved to another Agency as a GS11, and stayed there for less than 6 months, and then went to the VA as a GS11. In the HR field you can get by for around a year and a half to two years, give or take, before mistakes catch up with you. Bluntly, she bounced from place to place, leaving a total mess everywhere she went. She had that 6th sense when all the smoke and mirrors, and sheer bravado (house of cards) was about to collapse and leave before it did.

    Something else to think about. From my experiences, every Agency does things differently. I am in HR and I have worked with 8 different personnel systems (Title 5 GS, Title 5 Wage Grade, NSPS, the VA’s 38 USC for Physicians, for Nurses, for Hybrid Title 38 (each is different), and for a demonstration project). Sometimes you find yourself way behind the power curve when dealing with new personnel systems. And the quality of leadership, as well as the organizational climate, can vary dramatically. When I did move from Agency to Agency, I received a promotion each time except for this last one (I am going to retire after this assignment).

    Can you do it? Definitely. Should you be careful about doing it? Absolutely. But, it can be done.

  • #182666

    Ron Crabtree

    Moving between jobs can be a short-sighted strategy. If you are just looking for a “change,” it can work against you as your work record may show a certain instability or an inability to get along with co- workers. Of course, this may not be the case but the optics are there.

    Build a strategy:

    Once you find out what career path you would like to pursue, find a mentor in that area….the higher up the better. Ask them for advice on how to reach your goals and the politics of getting there. Indeed, when making changes they can be explained as pursuing your longer term goals. Moreover, when you do change jobs, they will be part of an overall strategy and have an additive effect on your value to where you want to end up.

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