| 10 things to improve your chances of landing the federal job you want

As we get closer to the holidays, everyone gets busy and distracted on personal matters. However, you can take advantage of the slowdown to up your government job search game.

Here are 10 easy things to do that won’t take much time but will pay dividends!

  1. Double-check your USAJOBS Profile. Make sure it is up-to-date in terms of your contact information, your eligibilities, etc. Veterans, this is especially important as you want to ensure that your eligibilities count.
  2. Understand your eligibilities. Do you have veterans’ preference? Do you have status? Are you eligible for reinstatement? Are you Schedule A eligible? A military spouse? Understanding your eligibilities and what they mean will help ensure you apply for jobs for which you are eligible.
  3. Turn on the feature that automatically notifies you when the status of your application changes. Under what was known as “hiring reform,” agencies are supposed to notify via email: A) when your application was received; B) whether you were rated qualified or unqualified; C) whether your application was sent to the hiring manager; and D) when a selection is made. While it is true that agencies don’t always take these steps (or the steps aren’t always taken in a timely manner), you still want to sign up for this feature.
  4. Create a search agent on USAJOBS to automatically send you job postings that meet your criteria.
  5. Make sure your resume is up-to-date so that you’re ready to apply for the job postings which have quick close dates.
  6. Add accomplishments to your resume, at least for your current job. You should include at least one achievement for each year in your current job. If you’ve been in your current job less than one, apply the concept your prior job.
  7. Get rid of jobs on your resume that are more than 10 years old. Employers want to know what you have done recently and be assured that you’re not resting on your laurels. If you were the hiring manager, would you want to pick someone who had not done the job in 20 years or someone who is doing it now?
  8. Apply for jobs for which you are qualified for. This is more than having time-in-grade; you need to have the specialized experience too.
  9. Review the questionnaires associated with each job posting before deciding whether or not to apply. You can review the questionnaires without applying; most postings have a link to view the questionnaire. If you cannot provide the highest and best answer to the vast majority of questions, you may not be rated as best qualified.
  10. Make sure you use key words from the job posting in your resume; make it easy for the HR people to see that you’re qualified.

BONUS: Still not sure you know what to do? There are many free training sessions offered on using USAJOBS and applying for a government job. Bookmark: and keep checking!

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.