Yes, the Government is Still Hiring

Last week, we held a virtual government career fair with over 6,000 registrants. During the event, I answered 100+ questions from attendees in our networking lounge and our “Ask the Expert” series. The number one question I received was:

“Is the Government Still Hiring?”

Most people were worried that, with budget cuts and sequestration, the federal government isn’t even hiring.

My simple answer is: “Yes, it is.”

Every week, I pick the top 10 jobs per category (program analyst, entry level, communications, etc) for our GovLoop Jobs site (built on USAJOBS API), so I have some first-hand data on the trends.

1) The Numbers Aren’t That Bad

Each week I track the number of job vacancies announced (new ones posted that week) by a number of categories. Let’s look at the number of job openings announced that week:

  • Entry Level Jobs – 3/3/13 (140 jobs), 11/24/12 (109 jobs) 8/27/12 (173 jobs)
  • HR Jobs – 3/3/13 (128 jobs), 11/24/12 (99 jobs), 8/27/12 (141)
  • IT Jobs – 3/3/13 (189 jobs), 11/24/12 (150 jobs) 8/27/12 (195 jobs)

As you can see, this week the number of vacancies isn’t really that bad. It’s a solid middle of the road week that is pretty average over the last 6 months.

2) Who is Still Hiring?
So the question is: who is still hiring? Despite the DOD cuts, the majority of the openings are still at DOD and VA with lots of openings at bases as well as headquarters jobs from IT program managers to contract specialists. Other big hires include DHS (especially NPPD as well as ICE and CBP), HHS (a large agency plus there is a lot going on with health care), and CFPB (a new agency that is growing).

3) Where Should You Look?

IT continues to be the area of jobs. There were 189 IT job vacancies launched last week versus only 27 in the communications field. Acquisition (85 vacancies) and budget analyst (65 vacancies) both continue to be strong hiring positions. I especially think these are the best ways to get into popular agencies like State, USAID and EPA (I see great openings in these fields at these agencies). Also, current feds have a leg up – in this week’s data, 57% openings were listed only for current feds (this percentage is about the same as what I’ve pulled in the past).

4) What Does the Future Hold?

Obviously, 2013 isn’t going to be the best year for federal government hiring — sequestration has started and budget cuts are going to be brutal — but that doesn’t mean you should just bury your head and assume there’s no openings.

Keep on looking on (sign up for our top 10 job email alerts on the site ) and USAJOBS as there are openings and with retirements increasing, there’s going to continue to be a demand for talented govies.

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The Washington Post has been keeping tabs on how the sequester is affecting hiring. IT seems to be an area that is seeing cutbacks and most agencies will not be doing any significant amount of hiring.

From the Washington Post on 3/4/2013:

The State Department has added yet another variant to the messages federal workers are receiving regarding sequestration’s impact, telling its employees that it doesn’t expect furloughs — at least not yet. … It says the department plans to slow hiring in March. And, as of April, it expects to impose a partial hiring freeze, filling only one of every two open positions. Also, expenses for equipment and travel are being delayed, it said.

AID previously had told its employees that it doesn’t expect to furlough any employees for the entire fiscal year and that it is planning steps including a hiring freeze and reducing management support contracts and information technology purchases.

State Department’s no furloughs for now policy adds a variant on sequester’s impact

From the Washington Post on 2/28/13:

As for the relatively small GAO, which has about 2,900 workers, Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro sent a memo to employees last week saying the agency could likely meet its sequester target by halting new hires, trimming travel expenditures and reducing IT investments.

USAID said in an agency notice to employees last week that it does not intend to furlough workers this year and instead anticipates meeting its reduction targets by halting new hires, modifying contracts and cutting planned IT investments.

How are some agencies avoiding likelihood of sequester furloughs?

OMB guidance to agencies:

The budget office also directed agencies to apply “increased scrutiny” to hiring new personnel, issuing bonuses and making investments in training, conferences and travel.

White House budget office issues more guidance on sequester

Christine O'Neill

I received three notices from HHS yesterday that positions I’d applied to had been cancelled or postponed. So unfortunately, just because the jobs were there on 3/3, doesn’t mean an actual hire will occur. I’ll keep on applying where I can, but probably goig to have to expand my search further outside of the govt.

Brenda K. Moore

The issue with me is…I actually have a valid offer from CBP through the PMF program that was contingent upon clearing my background investigation (cleared in January). By the time it cleared, however, CBP was on a hiring pause – they can’t bring me onboard & now that they are facing putting 60,000 employees on furlough…..don’t know when, or if, they’ll be able to officially give me a start date.


Brenda/Christine/H.C. – Thanks for feedback & for the color.

Good feedback for folks reading – my point in the post was if you look at the pure metrics (not just the anecdotes), the # of vacancies isn’t that bad. Obviously there’s other things going on (some gigs post but then cancel) and obviously it’s not a great time with sequester. But I also encourage folks not to completely give up now