Applying for a job is scary. Applying for a federal job is terrifying. But for those of you who attended today’s session, “Navigating the Application Process” during the GovLoop Virtual Career fair were lucky enough to find someone to help you guide you.
Today during GovLoop’s virtual career fair, Andy Krzmarzick mediated presentations by two professionals with a great deal of experience with finding federal jobs. We were privileged to hear from Doris Tirone, certified Human Capital Strategist and Human Resources Specialist with NASA Glenn Research Center (i) and Donna Dryer, Director of Career Services at Duke University and MPP alumni network. (ii)
Both women offered advice on how to navigate the often intimidating process from recent graduate to federal employee. The session covered everything from finding the job postings to what to do after an interview. Here are the points that I found most helpful.
1. Know the Benefits (and limitations) of Networking
You here it all the time: Network, Network, Network. But as Donna Dryer mentioned, “networking is not always the best;” it can only get you so far. Sometimes you just need to rely on your skills and your charm and hope that the economic climate doesn’t affect your job search too much. Where networking does help is finding out about special services jobs that usually are only advertised through reference and word of mouth. That said, once you’re in government, network all you can, especially if you are in a position based on the election of a particular official. You never know when a connection might lead to something great.
2. Be Honest, But Don’t Be Modest
If you got it, flaunt it on your resume. Talk about how you had a great leadership experience in a project, mention how much you accomplished in your internship. Just make sure you back everything up with proof. Don’t leave resume reviewers questioning if you actually do have leadership qualities, write what happened. Many resume sites say that your resume should be a 1-3 pages tops, but Donna Dryer and Doris Tirone agree that federal resumes can be up to 6 pages. Federal agencies want to know exactly what experiences you have that make you qualified, so don’t be shy to share, but make sure you’re truthful because in the end, they’ll know you’re not qualified.
3. Love What You Do
Dryer explained that “you really need to understand politics and love them” to be successful in federal government. Sometimes the best options are not the best paths for government to take and decisions must be made based on a slew of factors that are only considered in a federal environment. If you know the intricacies of politics, you will be able to accept the culture federal government and will know how to navigate it to be successful.
4. “Breathe and Be Patient”
When it come to interviews, whether it’s before, during, or after, Tirone says that you need to relax. Before going in, be confident in what you know and in the experiences you have had and be ready to share. During, don’t fidget, just be polite and tell them what you know. After, patience is key. Federal application screenings take a long time, sometimes you wont hear back for months, sometimes you will hear back in a few weeks. Don’t get bogged down and keep looking for more opportunities.
The advice that Donna Dryer and Doris Tirone offered is invaluable to those looking to get their foot in the door of federal government and by the questions asked during the session, we could tell that participants were engaged and excited to hear more. However, if you were not able able to attend the session, or want a more exhaustive guide to succeeding in the application process, keep an eye out for GovLoop’s “Guide to Getting Into Government for High Achievers,” expected to launch this March.
(i) Doris Tirone is a Navy Veteran with over 35 years of experience in the Human Resources field. Doris has an eclectic background as a Human Resources professional, having worked with municipal and Federal government. She is certified as a Human Capital Strategist and is currently a Human Resources Specialist with the NASA Glenn Research Center located in Cleveland, Ohio. She knows the full spectrum of the hiring process – recruitment, placement, position management, classification, compensation, and employee and labor relations. Doris has also blogged on GovLoop as our “HR Gov Gal” since 2009.
(ii) Donna Dyer is Director of Career Services at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. She provides career advising and employer networking opportunities for Duke Master of Public Policy Students, as well as maintaining their network of MPP alumni. She received her undergraduate degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke and also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from N.C. State University.
Miss the live session? See the archived presentation here:
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