Original Content Created by Heather R. Houlton (heather dot houlton at gmail dot com)
If you are interested in pursuing a job with the federal government (think: NOAA, USGS, NASA...), then you will want to familiarize yourself with the hiring website specifically for these types of positions. We're going to walk you through some of the basics to get you started!
The hiring website for federal careers is called USA Jobs. For every federal position, applicants MUST go through this website - it's the only way the federal government hires. Sometimes they'll post ads in other venues and market in other ways, but ultimately, if it's truly a federal position, you'll be routed to the USA Jobs website to apply formally.
There are a few things you can do to learn more about federal opportunities. USA Jobs outlines several ways in which you can search for open positions:
USA Jobs has a page where they acknowledge some of the "federal hiring myths" and discuss what is and isn't true. For more information about tips and secrets to getting through the USA Jobs system, check out this page with related articles. Please review these links and poke around the USA Jobs website before moving on to the next part of this section.
Now that you've familiarized yourself with the USA Jobs website, we're going to walk you through a step-by-step activity to get you more acquainted with this resource. Let's say, hypothetically, you have graduated with your Bachelor's degree in geophysics and are interested in looking for federal positions. You're open to a variety of jobs and agencies. Where do you start? How would you go about narrowing down your search? What secrets do you need to know about federal government hiring that will help you get through the system? Let's find out below!
Step 1: See available opportunities that align with your skills, knowledge, and interests! Remember our Geoscience Careers Infographic? What were some of your transferable skills and interests that you discovered? Use those during this search! Now, go to usajobs.gov. Try typing in these terms and see all the different kinds of opportunities available.
*Remember, since you're a recent graduate in this activity, pay particular attention to "Pathways Recent Graduate Appointments." It will have a yellow graduation cap icon. As you search these different terms below, try playing with different filters as well (found on the right-hand side of the page).
You can even search for a specific state or city in which you want to be located. How did adding your location affect the search results?
Important Notes: There are a few items that appear on your search results in which we want to pay particular attention:
Step 2: Now that you've searched a few different options, choose one that most interested you. Be sure to apply the "Students" and "Recent Graduates" filters (in yellow) on the right-hand-side filters bar so you find a position that matches your level of experience. When you identify the position that you want to (are pretending to) apply to, click on the position title and make note of the following information.
Step 3: How to Apply - if/when you apply to a federal position in real life, you will have to make a USA Jobs profile. It will ask you to fill out your personal information and upload a resume. Be sure to change that resume each time you apply to a new position. You can even upload multiple versions and select which one to use for each position. Do not use a generic resume to apply. Other tips for applying:
Searching, applying for, and landing a job is no easy task. There are many tools out there on the internet that give advice about best practices. Use these to your advantage. We hope that the information presented here about apply to federal appointments gives you a solid introduction to dive in when it's time for you to find your dream job.