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19 Tips How to Get a Federal Government Job: A Guide

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How to get a Federal Government job? Securing a federal job can often seem like a daunting and, at times, frustrating endeavor. Nevertheless, there’s no better place to contribute to our nation’s well-being than within the government, which plays a pivotal role in every aspect of our lives, from ensuring air quality and food safety to maintaining homeland security and assisting the homeless.

As the largest employer in the nation, with approximately two million civilian employees, the federal government continually seeks to fill thousands of positions across diverse fields. In the previous fiscal year alone, nearly 92,000 full-time permanent employees were hired, and these opportunities spanned all 50 states and even reached overseas locations, extending beyond the confines of Washington, DC.

However, the path to securing a federal job can be convoluted, particularly if you’re unsure about the type of role you desire or find navigating the system challenging. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed amidst a labyrinth of agency websites and a sea of federal job announcements. Conversely, possessing a clear understanding of the process and your objectives allows you to channel your efforts effectively, focusing on specific careers within different agencies and maximizing your chances of success.

Tips on How to Get a Federal Government Job

Here are nine invaluable tips to get a Federal Government job:

1. Bookmark the Premier Federal Job Search Websites

Begin your journey by visiting This platform serves as the primary repository for nearly all federal job openings, providing comprehensive details on job responsibilities, minimum qualifications, basic benefits, and application guidelines. Explore agency and professional field pages within the site to identify positions aligned with your interests, as well as to ascertain the required level of experience, salary range, and geographical location.

While offers a wealth of information, it’s advisable to consult individual agency websites for additional insights into the work and missions of specific federal organizations.

2. Acknowledge Veterans’ Preferences

If you’ve served in the military, you have the option of claiming veterans’ preference, providing a distinct advantage over similarly qualified non-veterans. Although this preference doesn’t guarantee you the job, it enhances your competitiveness. To qualify, you must possess documentation of a general or honorable discharge from active duty service. Remarkably, nearly one-third of the federal government’s new hires in fiscal 2014 were veterans.

It’s important to note that not all forms of active duty service qualify for veterans’ preference.

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3. Apply Promptly After Completing Peace Corps or AmeriCorps VISTA Service

An often overlooked aspect of federal recruiting and hiring is the special preference extended to returned Peace Corps volunteers and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. Agencies have the authority to interview and select qualified former volunteers without advertising the position on or undertaking other steps typically associated with the standard, often slow, and competitive hiring process. This preference remains valid for one year following the successful completion of your service.

4. Pursue Roles That Match Your Qualifications

The qualifications outlined in a job announcement offer crucial insights into the background, training, and experience that the agency seeks in potential candidates. While it might be acceptable to apply for positions where you don’t meet all the qualifications in other industries, the federal government mandates that you satisfy all specified qualifications and eligibility prerequisites.

5. Complete Applications Thoroughly

Incomplete applications will not be considered, and no exceptions will be made. It is essential to fill out the online job application and questionnaires in their entirety and to provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and a resume in accordance with the job requirements.

Most importantly, submit your application within the stipulated timeframe, as agencies do not accept late submissions.

6. Craft a Comprehensive Multi-Page Resume

While a one-page summary of your work history might suffice for a typical job application, federal resumes should offer greater detail and span two to five pages. They should follow a similar format to traditional resumes but delve deeper. You must provide elaborate descriptions of your former job duties, accomplishments, and relevant skills, including experiences outside the workplace. Additionally, be prepared to furnish salary history and references.

7. Tailor Your Resume for Each Position

Instead of submitting a uniform resume for all federal positions, create customized resumes that align your experiences with the specific requirements outlined in individual job announcements. Importantly, incorporate keywords and phrases from the job description into your resume to underscore your qualifications.

It’s worth noting that you should also employ the same keyword strategy when responding to online application questions. Moreover, don’t be modest; your goal is to stand out and compel the agency representative to shortlist you from the vast pool of applicants.

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8. Exercise Patience and Persistence

The federal hiring process can be protracted and laden with obstacles. In essence, the application process and obtaining a response necessitate time. While certain agencies may exhibit greater efficiency, some possess special hiring flexibilities for critical positions that expedite decision-making. Nevertheless, securing a federal job demands patience and tenacity, with competition often spanning hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates.

You can monitor the status of your application by logging into your account or through the agency system used for submission. If several weeks elapse without any communication after the job submission period closes, consider emailing the designated contact person listed in the job announcement. Following up with a phone call is also acceptable. Although you may not always receive a response, it’s worth attempting to gain insight into the status of your application.

9. Ace Your Interview

If you receive an interview invitation, you’ve already secured a place on the shortlist of serious contenders. However, you might still be competing against several others for a single position. Interviews present the opportunity to not only discuss your qualifications but also to demonstrate your commitment to the agency’s mission. Prepare a concise speech outlining why you’re the perfect choice, based on your specific skills and experiences.

Ways to Improve Chances of Getting a Federal Job

Having been both a supervisor and a participant in numerous hiring panels across various organizations, I’ve witnessed many highly qualified candidates missing out on opportunities due to recurring blunders in their application and interview procedures. When I come across instances where a well-qualified individual, often self-proclaimed, wasn’t referred for an interview, it’s highly likely that the applicant committed one of the most common errors.

Here, I present my top ten tips to substantially enhance your chances of securing the federal job you desire.

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1. Recognize that Everyone in the Federal Government is an Expert

Applicants are often posed with a series of questions to gauge their experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). When responding to KSA queries, it’s essential to remember that in the federal government, everyone is considered an expert. The government lacks a definitive definition of what constitutes “expertise” in any skill area. Unless a job explicitly demands a specific certification or license, expertise remains a subjective judgment. While honesty is commendable, your perception of expertise may not align with that of a potential employer. Allow the interview process to determine if your level of expertise meets the expectations of the future supervisor.

2. Customize Your Resume for the Job Listing

There’s a multitude of websites serving as gateways to federal employment. Frequently, I’ve reviewed resumes and wondered if the candidate spent any time updating a saved resume for their application. It’s quite common to find little evidence that the applicant meticulously perused the position description and tailored their resume accordingly. To improve your prospects, carefully scrutinize the position description and adjust your resume to highlight the experience pertinent to the advertised job.

3. Address Warning Flags in Your Resume

Are you aware that your resume might contain warning signs? Misspelled words are one such flag. Updating your current assignment without revisiting what you wrote in a previously saved resume can result in conflicting service dates. Changing your writing style can also be a red flag to reviewers, indicating a lack of attention to detail. There are other warning signs as well. Frequent lateral job transitions without explanations and requesting notification before contacting a former supervisor are two additional cautionary signals.

4. Thoroughly Research and Prepare for the Interview

In numerous interview panels I’ve participated in, it’s disheartening to encounter candidates who exhibit no familiarity with the organization they are conversing with. Dedicate the time to learn as much as possible about the organization. Explore their website, review their presence on social media, and check LinkedIn for former employees who can provide insights to inform your decision. Above all, anticipate potential interview questions about the organization; there’s almost guaranteed to be at least one such question.

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5. Prepare Thoroughly for the Interview Process

If you meet the qualifications outlined in the job listing, your resume will be passed on by a human resources specialist to the hiring supervisor, alongside other qualified applicants, as part of the job “cert.” This marks the continuation of the hiring process. The majority of job interviews are conducted over the phone. It’s crucial to be available by phone at the scheduled interview time. For mobile users, ensure you have a strong Wi-Fi signal, as missing an interview rarely leads to second chances. Time zone disparities, especially for overseas assignment interviews, can result in early-morning or late-night interviews.

6. Prepare Questions of Your Own

Interviews are a two-way exchange. It’s crucial to evaluate if your personality aligns with the organization’s culture. Begin by comprehending how you’ll fit into the existing dynamics. Moreover, inquire about potential overtime opportunities, flexible schedules, and telework policies. While some questions can be counterproductive, I’ve encountered a few that had little relevance to the position or the organization. Have one or two well-thought-out questions ready to leave the interview panel with the impression that you are the right fit for the job.

7. Answer Questions Directly

Hiring panels pose the same set of questions to all candidates. It’s an ongoing frustration to witness candidates squander our time by failing to provide direct answers to the questions posed. Listen attentively to each question, pause to contemplate it, and respond directly. Meandering responses that deviate from the hiring panel’s query won’t bolster your chances of selection. Keep in mind that hiring panels usually have multiple interviews lined up in succession. Responses lacking focus provide grounds for immediate elimination from consideration.

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8. Demonstrate Your Genuine Interest in the Job

It’s not uncommon for individuals with impressive resumes and years of federal government experience to believe that the job is inherently theirs, with the interview merely serving as a formality and an unnecessary distraction. After the interview, ensure you leave the hiring panel with the impression that you possess both the capabilities to excel in the role and a genuine desire to contribute to the organization. Arrogance and an inflated sense of importance can be discerned in your responses. Organizations are seeking ideal candidates to complement their teams, not lone-star quarterbacks aiming to rewrite the playbook.

9. Don’t Forget to Express Gratitude

At the conclusion of the interview, you have one final opportunity to convey your eagerness for the job to the interview panel. A simple gesture, like sending a thank-you email, can make a significant impact. Make note of the names of your interview panel members as they are introduced and extend your gratitude personally to each one. This straightforward tactic demonstrates your attentiveness and appreciation. Regrettably, numerous applicants overlook this step and fail to send a simple thank-you email, missing an opportunity to make a positive impression.

10. Don’t Get Discouraged

If you were expecting one more tip, here it is: Don’t get discouraged. Special hiring preferences, such as being a veteran or a military spouse, may not provide as much advantage as you think. Many applicants qualify for the same preferences you claim. The federal hiring process is highly competitive. Maintain your focus and determination; missing an opportunity due to carelessness is avoidable.

Wishing you the best of luck with your federal job prospects. The selection process can be intensely competitive. Avoid complacency and seize every opportunity.

How to Get a Federal Government Job: Resources

The path toward securing a federal government position may initially seem straightforward. However, the journey to actually obtaining one can be a daunting endeavor. Here, we present a collection of books aimed at aiding you in your quest for a federal job, or you can peruse through a selection meticulously tailored to enhancing your federal government resume.

Federal Hiring Advice: Your Guide to Government Jobs

Synopsis: “Federal Hiring Advice: Your Roadmap to Government Jobs” offers an insider’s perspective on the federal hiring process. This comprehensive guide navigates you through every stage of the hiring journey, equipping you with the tools to enhance your prospects of success. By immersing yourself in the wisdom of “Federal Hiring Advice” and diligently implementing its recommendations, you’ll witness a transformative impact on your application outcomes like never before.

200 Jobs Explained: The Ultimate Career Guide. Discover the career of your dreams with 200 career profiles to explore

Explore 200 Diverse Career Paths: Dive into a wide spectrum of career options, ranging from traditional fields like medicine and law to cutting-edge industries such as renewable energy and artificial intelligence.

In-Depth Job Insights: Gain a clear understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities, essential skills, and potential for growth associated with each profession, offering a realistic glimpse into what to expect.

Education and Training Guidance: Discover the educational requirements, certifications, or training needed for each profession, allowing you to plan your educational journey effectively.

Career Satisfaction and Work-Life Balance: Acquire valuable insights into job satisfaction and achieving a harmonious work-life balance, empowering you to choose a career that aligns with your personal values and lifestyle preferences.

Federal Resume Guidebook: Strategies for Writing a Winning Federal Resume

Synopsis: The Hiring Reform Initiative has brought about a complete transformation of the federal hiring process. This book unveils writing techniques that enable you to attain the “best qualified” status, get referred to a supervisor, secure an interview, and ultimately, land the job. Learn to effectively incorporate Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) into your resume alongside your accomplishments. Maximize readability by adopting the Outline Format for your federal resume. Gain expertise in analyzing vacancy announcements for keywords and mastering the Assessment Questionnaire. Furthermore, discover the art of formatting your USAJOBS federal resume for clarity. Within these pages, you’ll encounter numerous sample federal resumes in the Outline Format, complete with KSAs.

How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job: Your Complete Guide to Opportunities, Internships, Resumes and Cover Letters, Networking, Interviews, Salaries, Promotions, and More!

Synopsis: “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job” serves as the ultimate guide for securing a government job, internship, or fellowship. Penned by a successful career coach who has traversed the federal career ladder herself and held hiring manager roles, this book expertly navigates applicants through every facet of their job search. It encompasses finding unadvertised openings, securing interviews, closing advantageous deals, and even attaining promotions.

Resumes for Government Careers

Synopsis: Crafting a compelling resume can be the most pivotal factor in securing the ideal job. This practical and up-to-date guide delineates the fundamental elements of a successful government career resume. It offers insights on writing a concise, stylish, and easily digestible resume that stands out.

Military to Federal Career Guide

Synopsis: President Obama has introduced an Executive Order to facilitate veterans in initiating careers within the federal government. The President’s Initiative on Employment for Veterans promises to bring a transformation to veterans transitioning into the federal sector. Nevertheless, veterans still require a federal resume that will certify them as at least minimally qualified, and ideally, best qualified. This book guides you in constructing an outstanding federal resume, increasing your chances of securing the finest jobs in the nation and worldwide. Gain valuable tips on how to incorporate keywords to align your federal resume with specific vacancy announcements. Highlight your accomplishments to ensure they capture the attention of federal human resources specialists. Moreover, learn how to decipher essential sections of the vacancy announcement, such as the “HOW TO APPLY” instructions. This book also includes concise and easily digestible samples of Military to Federal Resumes in the Outline Format for USAJOBS, CPOL, DONHR, AVUE, Talentlink, and other federal resume builders.

Cracking the Federal Job Code

Synopsis: If your aspirations lead you to become a civil servant within the federal government, you may find it disheartening to apply for positions only to never receive an interview. You’re not alone in this frustration; thousands of individuals, much like yourself, apply for federal jobs without success, even though many of them are seasoned professionals. The truth is, those who do secure these coveted positions aren’t necessarily more qualified; they’ve simply mastered the intricate application process.

The Book of U.S. Government Jobs: Where They Are, What’s Available, & How to Complete a Federal Resume

Synopsis: This comprehensive resource elucidates everything a job seeker requires to locate, apply for, and clinch a rewarding federal job. It includes a specialized guide on resume crafting since federal-style resumes differ from standard ones. You’ll also find tips on achieving higher ratings and guidance on making your initial mark. The abundance of resources incorporates user-friendly checklists, an agency directory, a skills index, and networking suggestions.

Government Job Applications and Federal Resumes

Synopsis: Securing a government job offers job security and peace of mind for many. However, the daunting challenge lies in the extensive and intricate paperwork required for the application process. Federal government job seekers must submit meticulously crafted paperwork, which is subsequently assigned a numerical score based on quality and content. This score dictates whether an individual will secure one of the coveted interview slots. Finally, a comprehensive guidebook emerges that demystifies the preparation of federal government job applications. This book demonstrates how to maximize your rating and boost your chances of obtaining an interview.

Ten Steps to a Federal Job

Synopsis: Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) must now be incorporated within the resume. The third edition CD-ROM provides 21 KSA samples integrated into the Federal Resume, allowing you to view “before and after” Federal Resumes with KSAs based on Hiring Reform recommendations. Informative case studies feature vacancy announcements, keywords, before-and-after (successful) federal resumes, and the corresponding salary enhancements for each case study.


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What should I include in my federal resume?

When it comes to navigating the realm of federal employment, whether you stand as a seasoned federal employee or a newcomer to the vast expanse of the federal government, your curriculum vitae reigns supreme as the foremost conduit to express your educational background, competencies, and historical journey.

Before embarking on this intricate odyssey, it is of paramount importance to immerse oneself fully in the comprehensive job announcement. Dedicate your unwavering attention to the subsequent segments, seeking to ascertain if you harmonize with the prerequisites tailored to the position. This invaluable treasure trove of information can be unearthed beneath the following headings:

– Duties and Qualifications
– How to Apply (offering a tantalizing glimpse of the assessment questionnaire, if applicable)
– How You Will Be Evaluated

It is incumbent upon you to ensure that you possess the mandatory experience and/or education before you take the momentous step of initiating your application. The revered hiring agencies judiciously employ the job announcement as an instrument to delineate the position and its requisite qualifications, which encompass:

– The degree and temporal span of experience
– Educational credentials
– Pertinent training

What ought to grace the pristine pages of your curriculum vitae are not mere accounts but veritable testaments of your achievements and experiences, meticulously calibrated to align with the qualifications and stipulated requisites enshrined within the job announcement. This judicious alignment thus permits the hallowed consideration of your candidature for the coveted role.

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One ought not to underestimate the indispensability of furnishing your curriculum vitae with your current contact particulars. The great majority of job applications are exacting in their requirements, necessitating the inclusion of the following details:

– Tangible residential address
– Active electronic mail address
– Functional telephone number

It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to meticulously scrutinize the job opportunity, ensuring the comprehensive inclusion of all obligatory contact particulars. A meticulous approach, in this regard, is pivotal.

For every entry chronicling your sojourn through the annals of work experience, there exists a litany of details that must be meticulously curated and methodically presented. These vital constituents include:

– The precise chronology, encapsulating the inception and culmination dates, delineated with a specificity that extends down to the month and year.
– The exact number of hours devoted to your vocation each week.
– A comprehensive exposé of the level and breadth of your experience, manifesting in a clear demarcation of whether you occupied the role of a project overseer or, alternatively, served as an indispensable team member. The discerning reader ought to be left with an unequivocal grasp of your experience terrain.
– The pièce de résistance, a compendium of instances illustrating your relevant experiences and accomplishments that serve as irrefutable testimony to your adeptness in executing tasks at the specified echelon of prowess stipulated in the job announcement. Each experience you recount should seamlessly dovetail with the exalted tapestry of mandatory qualifications.

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Consider this illustrative paradigm:

Program Analyst GS-343-11
January 2009—Present
40 Hours/Week

– Experience/Accomplishment
– Experience/Accomplishment

Here, a narrative of your journey through the position unfolds, replete with all-encompassing details, painting a vivid portrait of your tenure.

Yet, do not restrict the vista of your curriculum vitae to the solemn tableau of paid employment exclusively. There exists ample scope to incorporate the rich tapestry of your volunteer endeavors or roles within the tapestry of community organizations. These accounts, far from peripheral, constitute tangible testimony to your aptitude for the job.

To wield numerical data as an instrument of emphasis, to breathe life into your achievements, is a stratagem of profound efficacy. Employ percentages, financial denominations, or quantifiable statistics to underscore your achievements. This mosaic of accomplishments draws from a kaleidoscope of sources, including performance evaluations, précis of previous employments, laurels, and commendations.

When elucidating your accomplishments, consider:

– The elucidation of instances where you shepherded financial savings, orchestrated revenue generation, or adroitly managed the fiscal aspect of endeavors.
– Offering apt instances of your prowess in optimizing or judiciously husbanding the currency of time, and get a Federal Government job.

Peruse these illustrative examples for clarity:

– “Elevated the efficiency of document processing by an impressive 25 percent, a marked improvement over the preceding year.”
– “Meticulously crafted 25 news releases within a challenging three-week timeframe, consistently meeting the exacting demands of daily deadlines.”
– “Exercised astute stewardship over a student organization budget, skillfully managing resources in excess of $7,000.”
– “Penned a prospecting letter that, to date, has yielded a bounteous stream of donations, eclipsing the $25,000 mark.”

Incorporating such empirical data in your curriculum vitae serves to render your accomplishments tangible, resonating with a resounding impact.

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Further Insights into Resume Crafting

Personalize Your Curriculum Vitae

Crafting a tailored resume tailored to each distinct job posting is not merely a prudent choice, but an imperative one. Instead of dispatching a one-size-fits-all document, personalize your resume to align seamlessly with the unique demands of the position in question. This strategic customization is your key to harmonizing your proficiencies, knowledge, skills, abilities, and past experiences with the specific prerequisites of each job. As you embark on this voyage, emphasize your strengths and let them take center stage, while judiciously omitting any experiences that do not bear relevance to the current endeavor.

Harmonize Your Terminology and Conquer Every Essential Requirement

The tapestry of your professional background should intricately weave together with each mandatory qualification delineated in the job announcement. Keen-eyed hiring agencies meticulously comb your resume for precise terminology, seeking a harmonious resonance with the stipulated experience. For example, if the qualifications section articulates the necessity for familiarity with “MS Project,” it is imperative to explicitly incorporate the term “MS Project” into the fabric of your resume.

Architect Your Resume for Transparency

The architecture of your resume is paramount, as it serves as a compass for agencies navigating your professional odyssey. Failure to provide requisite information may cast a shadow upon your eligibility for the role. To illuminate your path to consideration, consider these architectural strategies:

– Traverse your professional chronicle in reverse chronological order, commencing with your most recent exploits and embarking on a backward journey through time.
– Offer an elaborate account of experiences that are germane to the role you aspire to attain.
– Assemble all your experiences and triumphs beneath the mantle of their respective job titles, presenting a holistic view of your prowess in specific domains.
– Choose between the succinct precision of bullet points or the flowing narrative of paragraphs to articulate your experiences and achievements.
– Employ a language that is crystal clear, eschewing the labyrinthine corridors of esoteric acronyms and terminology.

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Brevity Holds Sway

Hiring agencies often find themselves inundated with a deluge of resumes for specific positions. Consequently, hiring managers adopt a swift winnowing process, eliminating candidates whose qualifications are not immediately evident. As you appraise your resume, ponder these pivotal questions:

– Can a discerning hiring manager swiftly unearth my primary qualifications within the brief span of 10 to 15 seconds?
– Does crucial information leap from the page in a conspicuous display?
– Am I effectively championing my candidacy within the uppermost quartile of the inaugural page?

A Precursory Examination

Before entrusting your resume to the annals of submission, meticulously scour its terrain for errant spelling and grammatical trespasses. Furthermore, it is judicious to enlist the assistance of a meticulous confederate, one endowed with a discerning eye for detail, to undertake a thorough evaluation of your curriculum vitae.

Vital Tenets of the Federal Hiring Paradigm

– The federal government espouses a standardized job application framework, wherein your resume is the vanguard of your application.
– Hiring agencies employ the job announcement as a sounding board to elucidate the role, unfurling the canvas of mandatory qualifications and duties.
– In the aftermath of application submission, the hiring agency scrutinizes the content of your resume to corroborate your possession of the prerequisites outlined in the job announcement.
– Once qualified candidates have been identified, the hiring agency may administer supplementary assessments, encompassing interviews or examinations, to discern the most fitting candidates for the role to get a Federal Government job.

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