Applying for Jobs with the US Government
>> Hi, I'm Lori Conlan.
I work with the NationalInstitutes of Health, as part of the Office of Intermural Trainingin Education.
I run both the Post-Doc Officeand the Career Services Center for the OITE, and I'm thrilledthat you could join us today.
We're going to talkabout how to find a job with the U.
All the agencies within thefederal government actually have different websites thatpost the different jobs, and what they callthose different jobs.
For example, at the NIH,which is where I work, there is www.
That goes through all thedifferent types of bench and non-bench positionsthat are available to PhD based scientiststhat you could look at and see what does aProgram Officer do versus what does aGrants Administrator do, versus what does a PrincipalInvestigator, or for example, a Post-Doc, at the NIH? So for all the differenttypes of positions that hire educated folks cando, you can look at our website.
The FDA has a verysimilar type of website, and so if you're interestedin regulatory affairs, what is an interdisciplinaryscientist, and how does that influence yourcareer options within the federal government? Now, the official job site of the U.
Governmentis actually USAJOBS.
All agencies typically posttheir jobs that are available as a federal hiringmechanism at USAJOBS.
So I recommend thatyou start looking there about different informationabout how to apply.
They have some greattutorials online at USAjobs.
Gov to help you through the process.
The federal government alsoworks with a lot of contractors, and many of the jobs thatare available can be found through differentcontracting websites.
A couple of differentways to find jobs through contractingfirms, one is called Juju.
It's an online aggregator ofdifferent types of positions within the federal governmentas contracting positions.
You can see the link herefor Juju and you can type in different keywords,such as NIH contractor, and see what comes up with that.
You should also look at allthe different specific websites for the differentcontracting firms that work with the U.
For example, Kelly Scientific,Lockheed-Martin, SAIC, Leidos, Discovery Logic, etc.
These aremany of the firms that exist within the contracting system.
We have a great blog postabout the different types of contractors that work withall the different agencies at our blog, and you canfind that from our home site.
If you are looking at aspecific government position, there is again three typesof hiring mechanisms.
The one that most peoplethink of when they're thinking about federal jobs areGS, or General Schedule, which are also knownas Title 5 Positions.
These have basic classificationsand compensation systems for both white collar andblue collar federal jobs.
And so you should understandwhat the classification systems are.
For example, series 601, or 401,etc.
There are different types of classifications systems.
So, for example, series 401is the biology classification.
So you should know what theseare, and we'll talk about that in a few more slideswhen we look at a job ad.
These Title 5 or GS positionshave federal benefits and federal retirement systems, but they do requireU.
These jobs will almostall entirely be found on USAJOBS.
Another type of positionthat is used within the federalgovernment are called Title 42 or AdministrativelyDetermined, AD jobs.
These are typically mostscience-based positions, or clinical researchsupport positions.
So if you're thinkingabout bench-based jobs, perhaps at the NIH, thesemay be Title 42 positions.
These do have federal benefitsand federal retirement, but they are not within theGS scale, again the things that most people thinkabout when they're thinking about a federal position.
There may be no citizenshiprequirement for a Title 42 based job, but some of them still havecitizen based requirements.
Contracting positions, remember,are from a very wide range of different companies.
You can see our blogpost on contractors.
They have differingcitizenship requirements, and they are not eligiblefor federal benefits or federal retirements.
It is very likely that thecontracting firms will offer benefits and retirement,but you should look at each individualcontracting firm to understand whattheir benefits are.
It's very important to understand how citizenshipinfluences the types of positions you can have withthe U.
Most federal government jobs,all GS jobs, require citizenship with the United States.
Permanent residencyis not enough for these types of position.
You have to be a citizen inorder to have these positions.
If you are a non-citizen, andyou are interested in working with the federal government,there are two options, although I do have to saythat there are not a lot of positions for non-citizens.
You can look for the AD, the AdministrativelyDetermined, positions.
At the NIH, for example, wecall these Title 42 positions, and they're mostly for bench-based jobs,not non-bench jobs.
Or you can look for thedifferent contracting positions for the differentcontracting firms.
Again, these arelikely much more to be bench based positions, and found by directlycontacting investigators to see if they have openings.
You're not necessarilygoing to find an AD or Title 42 positionon USAJOBS.
It's possible, but they arenot always posted there.
You may find them posted at thedifferent agencies' websites, but again, for example, if youwant a staff scientist job here at the NIH, they'reoften Title 42 or AD, and you'll contact the labsdirectly in order to see if they have thattype of position open.
A few years ago we putin some hiring reforms to cut the red tape, to improvethe timeline to get people from applying to a positionto the federal government, to working for thefederal government.
There was an executiveorder that was put out that this entire process,from putting the application out there, to hiring the person, has to be done inless than 80 days.
They removed the KSAs,which were Knowledge, Skills and Abilities, they wereoften written in essay form, and replaced them withmultiple choice questions that you rate yourselfand score yourself.
Also they put in thatthe minimum requirement for putting a job outthere is five days.
And, in fact, someagencies have implemented that the five daysis the maximum that they will actuallypost a position.
That means for some of you when you have often thoughtyou saw a job opening that was only there for fivedays that "Oh, why bother, they already havesomebody in mind.
" That's not necessarily true.
That's just the timelinethat agency has decided that they will post a position.
So even if the job isonly open for five days, you still may want to apply because it doesn't always meanthey have someone in mind.
Let's talk about the differentprocesses for getting a job, and getting through USAJOBS.
There are two differentpeople who are often part of this process-the hiringmanager, or the program, and also Human Resources,known as HR.
HR will be contacted by theprogram or the hiring manager to identify a need that theyhave within their division.
The hiring managerwill work with HR to write a position description that matches what thehiring manager needs, as well as standard normswithin the HR system for that particular agency.
The position is then announced,for as many days as required, and then the announcementcloses.
HR then goes throughthe first step of reviewing the applications.
The hiring manager does not seethe applications at this point.
It's all done atthis point by HR.
HR ranks the candidates based on how the candidatesscored themselves, as well as the resumeand the questionnaire that the candidate filled out.
HR will then issue acertificate or a cert for that particularposition, and then move things over to the hiringmanager for examination.
At this point, thehiring manager in the program have the resumesthat matched the search HR did.
So the manager will thenreview all the resumes that came to them.
They will then chooseto interview some or all of the different candidates,the resumes that they have.
And then they will makea selection and move that selection recommendationback to HR.
At that point, HR will have tomake the offer to that person that the program has selected,within two days, with the goal of all of this processbeing 80 days.
We here at the NIH have anaverage of about 62 days, but you can see that it isa very long process to move from application to hiringwithin the federal government.
So you may need to time yourcareer search accordingly.
So now that you know alittle bit about the process, let's think about what you seeat the other end at USAJOBS.
Gov, through the vacancyannouncement.
One of the things I reallyhave to stress is that you need to read the announcementvery, very carefully.
They are set up indifferent tabs.
There are duties, how to apply,etc.
, that are along the top of USAJOBS.
Gov, but you need toread things very, very carefully to make sure that you'renot missing any duties and responsibilitiesthat you can address in your resume and/oryour cover letter, that will get you this position.
You should pay very closeattention to who can apply.
If it's a GS job, remember,that's for citizens.
Other things that you will oftensee is MP or Merit Promotion.
This is for federalemployees only.
This job may be postedat the same time with the GS level position.
If you don't currently workwithin the U.
government, do not apply for amerit-based or MP position.
Follow all directionsthat they give you.
For example, many of thepositions often require you to submit a transcript to thehuman resources professional that is listed on the job ad.
If you don't submityour transcript, you can't get certified forthis particular position.
Once the vacancy closes,the HR again will screen for eligibility andassign a ranking.
Sometimes they bring in subjectmatter experts that can be used for technical orscientific jobs.
You need to assumethat the only people that are reading yourapplication are actually from HR.
So you should reallytry to make sure that you are using wordsdirectly from the job ad, so that HR knows that youhave the skills, the abilities and the knowledge in orderto perform those positions.
And again, HR will thencertify who can move on to the hiringmanagers to interview, and then HR does allthe communications to the online applicants.
Let's look at a job ad here, so you have a little bitmore better understanding about what we're looking at.
Now, I want to show youthis particular job ad is for the Food andDrug Administration, and this one is called thatinterdisciplinary scientist, which is a catch-all termfor many types of positions within the FDA forPhD based scientists.
So you see the first thing that we have circled is calledinterdisciplinary scientist.
This is the job title.
The next is that it's fromthe Department of Health and Human Services, theparent agency for the FDA.
And then it has a jobagency announcement number.
You can see along the topof this page at USAJOBS.
Gov that there is an overview,duties, qualification and evaluations, benefits andother info, and how to apply.
Make sure you're reading eachone of these tabs very carefully to make sure that you'reapplying the best way you can.
Now, let's talk about thismiddle portion of this job ad.
This has some valuableinformation that you need to know, and youneed to look at.
The first is the salary range.
And the salary range isentirely dependent on the GS of this particular position.
This job is actually openfor about seven days, from July 21 to July 29.
This is important, because whenthe job ad closes, it closes.
And this job goes away fromthe online USAJOBS.
The next is the seriesand the grade.
First thing you'llnotice here is the GS.
So this is a generalschedule job, or a Title 5 based position.
And then you see a bunch ofnumbers, 401, 403, 415, and 601.
So these types of positionsare different classifications within this government system.
These are specificfor scientists.
I think 401 is a biologist,601 is a professional grade.
These are reallyimportant numbers for you to actually look at, to see howyour scientific discipline fits into the differenttypes of jobs.
And you can even use thesedifferent classifications that you can find atUSAJOBS.
Gov to look for keywords for different types ofpositions throughout the federal government.
The last two numbers downhere after the dash are 12-13.
That means this positionis going to be hired at either a GS12level or a GS13 level.
So it has the option tobe either a 12 or 13 based on your qualifications.
It also means that thepromotion potential, which is mentioned next is a 13.
So the highest level that thisposition can go to is a GS13.
The next thing hereis the duty location, which is in SilverSprings, Maryland.
And then who may apply.
That is only forUnited States citizens.
Remember, this is a GS based job that has citizenshiprequirements.
And then the security clearance and supervisory statusare not applicable for this particular position.
At the end of every jobannouncement is the HR professional that isattached to that position.
If you have any questions,you can go through and present thosequestions to that person that is listed on the job ad.
We've talked aboutthe GS schedule and the GS pay schedule a coupleof times in the earlier slide.
Let's dissect thisa little bit more so that you havean understanding of how the federalgovernment uses pay schedules.
For the job that we sawearlier, this was a GS12.
GS12, for example,has different steps.
Step one through step 10.
Most people come in to thefederal government at a step 1, and then after a year, moveto step 2, then move to step 3 after another year, and thenbetween steps 4 through 7, there is a two-year wait, andthen between step 7 and step 10, there is about athree-year wait.
So if you come in as a GS12at step 1, it can take you about 20 years to makeit to a GS12 step 10.
So there are lots ofdifferent points within that, that you get scheduledpay raises.
A couple of other things aboutthe GS schedule that you do need to know is that thereare locality pays.
So, for example, if you live inWashington, D.
, San Francisco, New York City, the cost ofliving is a little bit higher than if you live in, say, Iowa.
So the federal governmenthas adjusted the pay rates for those cities that havea higher cost of living.
You can find all those differentlocality pays at OPM.
From what we've seen, most PhDbased scientists are coming into the federal governmentat at least a GS12, sometimes an 11, andsometimes higher.
But on average, you shouldlook at positions that are at least about a GS12.
If we go back to the jobad that we've been talking about from the FDA,the next place to look after you've looked at theoverview tab is the duties tab.
So the duties tab will give youa basic overview of the types of things that you would do ifyou were to go on to this job.
And this is the firstplace you can look at to really develop your resume so that it matches verywell towards the job ad that you're looking at.
So, for example, this one hasabout four different bullets about the types of jobduties that you would have.
The last one is drafting avariety of reports and summaries on the safety and effectivenessof devices submitted to a pre-market approvalapplication.
So then, in yourresume, you should talk about how you have evaluateddata, how you've looked at the effectivenessof different devices, and looked at evaluatingan application that has come across your desk.
Another interesting place thatthey often hide information about what you will do inthis job is found in the How To Apply tab, through lookingat the evaluation questionnaire.
This next slide shows what theevaluation questionnaire is for this particular job.
You can see how much moreinformation is available here about what you would do ifyou took this particular job, such as conduct research to determine whether scientificdata submitted is sufficient to substantiate the claims.
These are also different waysthat you can get ideas of how to develop your resume,to give them information of how you give exampleswhere you've succeeded in all these different items.
When you're lookingat this questionnaire, you have to evaluate yourselfA through E.
Make sure that you are evaluatingyourself honestly, but not under-valuing thework that you've done coming to this point in your career.
Your federal resume is a littledifferent than any other resume that you're going to develop.
It can be much longer.
It doesn't have any lengthrequirements, and you need to give them a lot ofinformation to make sure that they know that you have theknowledge, skills and abilities in order to do this job.
I often like to sayyour federal resume, you should consider ityour first interview.
So the things that youwould have told them in your first interview, that isthe kind of information you need to put in your federal resume.
The first type ofinformation that always goes up top is the personal info.
This is your name, your address, your phone numbers,your E-mails.
They will actually ask for aSocial Security Number as well.
It's one of the few placesthat we will say, yes, you should put your SocialSecurity Number on a resume.
Only for a federal.
And as well as yourveteran's preference.
So if you've served in theUnited States military, make sure to put that rightup top on your federal resume.
It will also ask for job detailsand relevant work experience.
I really would like to makesure that you understand that when you talk aboutthe relevant work experience that you reflect itdirectly back to the job ad.
Pick different phrasesfrom the job ad, and give them specific examples,such as reviewed applications as seen by blah,blah, blah, right? So you can tell them alittle bit more information about how you have therelevant work experience.
You'll also have to give themstart dates and end dates, and you will haveto include salary.
That's just how thefederal government works.
In your resume, you'll haveto include your salaries.
You need to givethem any education and relevant trainingthat you've done.
This can be muchmore exhaustive, talking about courseworkthat you've done, maybe certificate based things,anything that is relevant to the job, so that they knowyou can do this job well.
Awards, associations,special skills.
You can also include anynon-science work experience or volunteer experiences thatwill help them to understand that you can do the job well,and any other qualifications.
Try to mirror your responses in every single sectiontowards the job ad that you're applying for.
Every single job ad thatyou have, whether it's for the federal government or anywhere else,often has keywords.
You should definitelylook and think about what keywords youwant to show in your resume.
Make sure that the HRprofessional who has that first read reallyunderstands that you have theskills to do the job.
So a single keyword canreally communicate a lot of multiple skills.
So I really recommend thatyou go through the Duties tab, the How To Apply tab, and allthe questions that you have to evaluate yourself on,and look for common themes, because those are likelythe keywords that you need to make sure are inyour federal resume.
So on this line, I've givenyou some examples on how to really effectivelywrite your resume for that FDA job that you have.
I'm going to give you a coupleof seconds to read through them, and really see how wemean "I did X to do Y," and giving specific examples.
Developing your federal resumeand your application package for a federal jobreally needs to make sure that you're going towards thejob ad, and really reflecting that you have theskills to succeed.
There is lots more informationon developing resumes and other types ofcareer-related items on our website atwww.
There is other informationthere.
We also have a couple ofother links to different types of online resourcesthat are very good for government based job.
Watch our other videoto understand careers for scientists at manydifferent government agencies.
I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to see you havecareer success in the future.