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Government Careers

Derrick Dortch:Good Morning, Good Morning! We had some technical difficulties for last show but we are back again. There are many questions so I am not going to do a long intro I am just going to get right into answering.

Well without any further delay let me get to answering your questions. If you have any questions related to the federal job search, writing federal resumes and KSAs, getting a security clearance, military transition and anything related to succeeding in your career, work, and life please send your questions in. I will respond to as many people as possible. Also if anyone has any comments, advice or a good tip they want to share please do not hesitate to do so.

Thank you so very much for stopping by the show. You are truly appreciated. ENJOY!!!

– August 04, 2010 11:00 AM

Q.Re-starting my government career: I am currently in my early 60’s and worked for the Federal Government in the 1970’s and 80’s. I’d like to rejoin the Federal work force. I have years of varied experience in the private sector but don’t know how to package it: private companies want a one-page resume, Federal jobs seem to want a detailed description of your work history. Question 1: Are there Federal jobs for older workers, does the Fed hire people my age? Question 2: How do I describe my experience for Federal job applications?

– August 04, 2010 10:41 AM Permalink

A.Derrick Dortch :Hello Restarting your government career. Let me answer the question about age first. The government is not suppose to discriminate based on age. There are many government workers who are in their 60’s and above who are having wonderful careers. The only positions that are age based are position that have certain demands such a Special Agent or other similar operational type positions. These positions usually require a person to have applied and be accepted to the position before the age of 37. I never understood why the number is 37 but that is the cutoff for these type of operational positions. Even with these you can get waivers at times.

Beyond that there are no age limitations so please continue to press forward with your job search. Do understand that you need to market yourself and present yourself just as strong as someone younger but your age should not keep you from applying to positions and winning interviews.

Now as it relates to packaging and selling yourself you have to be very strong in this. The One Page resume even in the private sector is more of a myth concept than reality. Resume lengths really vary by person, by recruiter, and by so many other factors. What I usually advise is that you have to develop the resume that is going to sell you the most and show that you are the best candidate.

Federal Resume are usually 3 to 5 and sometimes more pages. When I have worked with clients I usually like to develop resumes around positions being applied for. This is what I call a Targeted Approach. You determine what positions and agencies you want to target and then you analyze your SEEQ (Skills, Experience, Education & Training, and Qualifications) and then determine which match what you are targeting. From there you develop your resume around that. The key for you is to make sure you tell success stories in your Federal Resume. It can not be just job descriptive. It has to show why you are a good fit. You also have to tell success stories if you have to write any KSA or essay style responses.

I could go on and on but I hope this helps get you started. You may need to get one of the Federal Resume books or seek the help of Career Counselor who understands the Federal Market to help you develop your materials.

I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 11:12 AM

Q.Salary : Good morning Mr. Dortch. After receving a tentative offer and months of waiting I have received my final offer! Unfortunately the salary well below what I had hoped. What is the best approach to negotiating higher pay? Is it even possible at this point?

– August 04, 2010 10:18 AM

A.Derrick Dortch : Hello Salary, congratulations on your offer! That is great news. I deal alot with this in my practice. What we like to do is to develop a “Salary Justification Letter”. Take a look at what the salary range of the position was when you applied for the job. All Federal Position Vacancy Announcements will have the salary range on there. I have many people who do not write down or keep this information. Just as a note for others who are applying to positions please make sure you cut and copy the job announcement and email it yourself or save it in a document on your computer. When an agency calls you want to be able to refer back to job announcement and it will have critical informations such as the salary range.

Now in the Salary Justification Letter you can accept the offer for the position but at the same time indicate that you would like to negotiate the salary. You can state that based on your SEEQ (Skillset, Experience, Education and Qualifications) you believe that your salary should be what you are requesting instead of what is being offered. Then you justify what you are saying by pointing out several reasons in clear bullet points. From there you send this to the HR person and they can take it to their boss or whoever they need to and the negotiation process begins. Depending on a number of factors they may negotiate or they may not. I have seen it work on a number of times and I have also seen them say that they wont budge at times. So make sure you are prepared for either answer. From there you can wait for the response. Make a strong argument. Many times in determining salary you can show some things that they did not think about when giving you the initial offer and so you end up winning in the negotiation.

I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 11:21 AM

Q.General Hiring issues...: This is more of a comment about USAJOBS. Maybe someday USAJOBS will be the “one stop” job site, but for now it sure isn’t. My son is job hunting, and has found that USAJOBS “may” have the basics, but seekers still have to go to each dept/agency’s site to do the actual application. Plus, the qualifications etc are often different on USAJOBS vs the individual ones, PLUS they have to re-enter basic info each time. This is hardly helpful, and when he calls the agency/dept with questions, he gets different answers again! I am a 30 year fed, so am more used to the craziness, but for a new person, it is terribly frustrating.

– August 04, 2010 8:31 AM

A.Derrick Dortch: Hello General Hiring Issues, your comment is a very accurate one. USAJOBS is a good site and has many government jobs but what everyone has to remember is that it does not have all government jobs on there. Agencies who are deemed “Competitive Service’ agencies are usually the ones who are required to post jobs on USAJOBS. Agencies who are classified as “Excepted Service” do not follow the same rules as those in the Competitive Service and they can make exceptions to where they post jobs and how they hire. These agencies will often times put their postings on their own website or other places. A prime example is the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The CIA has a number of positions that they are hiring for but if you look on USAJOBS you will never see a CIA position listed.

I always advise my clients on doing a targeted search. This means that you develop a list of agencies that you are interested in working for. This should be determined by certain criteria based on what you are looking for in an agency. Once you have your target list then you can begin monitoring agencies and their job section to see what they are posting.

Let me give you a few places that you should be looking for Federal Jobs.

USAJOBS.gov - Of course look here (Smile)

AVUECENTRAL.com - Federal Agencies contract with AVUE to post jobs and utilize their application technology.

INDEED.com - This and other metasearch job engines will search all over the web and grab on a number of position in the Federal Government no matter if its Competitive or Excepted Service. It will also pull in positions from Government Contractors and other sectors.

USA.gov - there is a good listing of agencies here

http://www.usa.gov/Agencies.shtml

I could go on and on on where to find federal positions but this gets you started. Use USAJOBS for sure but dont stop there. Look around in various places to find government jobs this includes the newspaper listings and other places.

Thanks for your comments. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you and your son much success.

– August 04, 2010 11:40 AM

Q.First-Time Entrance into Government Career Market: This is my first time applying for government careers. Where do I start?

– August 04, 2010 10:45 AM

A.Derrick Dortch : Hello First Timer, I just posted an answer on where to begin looking for Federal Jobs that should be helpful. When I work with clients the first thing I always recommend is that they do a self analysis and determine what skills and qualifications they have and then they should look to match their SEEQ & I (Skills, Experience, Education, Qualifications and Interests) to various Federal Agencies and positions within the government. From there you develop a targeted list of agencies and positions you will be looking for on a consistent basis within the government. Once you have this then you should go about the process of developing a Federal Resume and any supporting materials (Cover Letter, KSAs, etc.). You may also need to get college transcripts for some positions.

You have to make sure you develop materials that will sell you. This means developing materials that have relevant success stories that show that you are the best candidate for the position. You can not just have a job descriptive resume. Your resume needs to talk for you and how through examples that are qualitative and quantitative that you are the best candidate for the job.

I would also suggest you begin a strong networking strategy. Look for career fairs in the area you live where government agencies will be attending. Make sure you are there and try to get some face to face time with recruiters. Dont just always go for the name brand agencies like FBI, CIA, State Department, for example. You may see an agency recruiting that you have never heard of who is doing some great work. Go over and talk to them you may find that its a perfect fit for you.

You also want to develop your network list. People who you know who may be in the government or know someone in the government. You may be able to get their help.

I could go on and on but I hope this helps get you started. Make sure you add some patience to your toolbox the process is not a short one all the time but if you are persistent and keep on working hard to sell yourself to the right positions and agencies you will get there. I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 11:54 AM

Q.Transitioning from Excepted to Competitive Service: Mr. Dortch, I have 10 years experience as an intel analyst, primarily in excepted service positions. Now that I am looking for a new opportunity within the USG, I find that I am ineligible to apply for most jobs I am interested in outside of the Department of Defense. Most non-Defense jobs are looking for “status candidates,” which I apparently am not since I’m in the excepted, not competitive, service. In order to get a job in an agency I’m really interested in that requires “status,” do I need to start all over again from the bottom and apply for their entry level positions? I’m a 14 now but would consider dropping a grade or two to do something I’m really interested in, but I can’t even get a foot in the door with many USG agencies. Kind of disheartening for your readers to learn that even 10 years of experience often doesn’t get you in the door! Thanks for any insights you may have.

– August 03, 2010 9:02 AM

A.Derrick Dortch: Hello Transitioning from Excepted Service to Competitive Service,thanks for your question. Since you are a 14 you are looking to make a jump to 15 or a lateral to 14 to get your foot in the door. I assume you are looking to move possibly to Department or Homeland Security or somewhere that is outside of Excepted Service. There are positions out there for you they may be rare but they are there. For example I just found this one that might be a good fit for you in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis for DHS:

Job Title: Supervisory Intelligence Operations Specialist (Training)

Department: Department Of Homeland Security

Agency: Office of Intelligence & Analysis

Job Announcement Number: DHSHQ10-367477-IA

SALARY RANGE: $123,758.00 - $155,500.00 /year

OPEN PERIOD: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 to Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SERIES & GRADE: GS-0132-15

POSITION INFORMATION: Full Time Career/Career Conditional

PROMOTION POTENTIAL: 15

DUTY LOCATIONS: 1 vacancy - Washington DC Metro Area, DC

WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED: US Citizens and Status Candidates

As you can see this position is open to US Citizens and Status Candidates. Which means its open to you.

What I would honestly suggest is that you implement both a networking and application strategy. In networking you need to make a list of the various agencies you are interested in working for and then see if you can develop some contacts within these agencies. You may know some people in these agencies and if you don’t it would not hurt for you to reach out to someone in these agencies and express your interest. You are already in the IC there is nothing wrong with you reaching out to others in the government and expressing your interest in their agency. Build a network and enlist their help for you to make a strong move.

In terms of the application strategy I would again identify a list of target agencies and make sure your Federal Resume and any other self-marketing materials are targeted towards them. Keep monitoring positions and also get the contact information for the HR office of the agencies. Call and get yourself a point of contact in these offices and let them know you are interested in moving from your agency to theirs. As long as the positions are open to US Citizens then you can apply for those positions. You can find out what is coming up so that you can get ready to apply. Use your targeted materials to keep diligently applying to the right type of positions.

I could go on but I hope this helps. Its very possible to make the transition with the right strategy. I wish you much success.

Q.Job History on a Government Resume: I have been told that the government needs your employment history for the last ten years on your resume. I remember the places but not the detailed information. What do you suggest I do?

– August 04, 2010 11:09 AM

A.Derrick Dortch: Its not about 10 years its really about what experiences are relevant. This means that it could be 15 years ago. Go through and do a job history and try to get all of your information from all relevant employers you have had. For security clearnce purposes you will need to go back at least 10 years with your employment history but for application purposes you may go back further if it is relevant.

I know sometimes people forget things but do your best to try to get an accurate picture of where you worked and what you did. Put this in a Document or email it to yourself so that you always have it for the future.

With government positions especially whether it is the application or the security clearance process you want to make sure you can provide detailed and accurate answers about you and your background.

I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 12:17 PM

Q.How do I get started?

Hello, As a May 2010 college graduate, what is the best thing to do to get started in the “applying for a government job” process? My degree is in kinesiology...

– August 04, 2010 11:08 AM

A.Derrick Dortch :Hello Getting Started, I posted a response to someone who is a First Timer looking to go Federal. Take a look at that.

For you I would take a serious look at the Department of Veterans of Affairs (VA) and the Military Health System and Department of Health and Human Services. I am not sure what your experience level is but each of those should have some opportunities for you.

Here are the sites:

Veterans Affairs: VA.gov

Military Health System: http://health.mil/

Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/

You may also want to look at the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps: http://www.usphs.gov/

Find the programs within these agencies that fit your background and qualifications. There is more but this should get you started. Take care and I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 12:24 PM

Q.Hill Transition?

Thank you for taking my question. I have been working for a Member of Congress for about 4 years and am looking to transfer to a federal agency (preferably HHS or Dept of Ed). However, I am confused by what should be a simple question. Most applications ask “Are you a federal employee?” followed by “What is your GS #”. I am a federal employee, but am not on the GS pay scale. How would you handle this? Any additional advice would also be helpful!

– August 04, 2010 11:07 AM

A.Derrick Dortch :Hello Transition, many Federal Workers are GS level but others fall under Pay Band and other categories. The easiest way to handle this is to find out what your position is equivalent to on the GS Scale. You may want to look at the OPM Salary Guide and look at what the GS Levels are based on pay and then match it to your pay scale and then you can determine your equivalent GS Level. When you apply you can use that. I suggest you also talk to your HR office and determine what your actual Federal Status is.

Here is the OPM Salary Guide:

http://www.opm.gov/oca/10tables/index.asp

I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success in your transition.

– August 04, 2010 12:31 PM

Q.Federal jobs : Am 65 can I be considered for a federal position?

– August 04, 2010 11:10 AM

A.Derrick Dortch : Yes you can be. Take a look at my answer earlier in the show.

– August 04, 2010 12:31 PM

Q.Apply for Grade levels: Is it best to apply for every grade level you qualify for or just the highest?

– August 04, 2010 11:13 AM

A.Derrick Dortch: Its best to apply for the grades that you are qualified for based on your skills, experience, education and training and qualifications. I see some people applying to positions much lower than what they are qualified for. I do not recommend this approach usually. I really recommend a person identifies what positions are a good match and then focus on those positions. Of course if you are breaking into a new field then you will have to apply at the lower levels but if you are applying to a field and to positions that you have experience in then apply for positions that match your level of experience.

– August 04, 2010 12:34 PM

Q.Veterans Preference: Mr. Dortch, I heard that most of the entry level jobs are being snapped up by veterans with the 5 point preference. Is this true? Since I’m not a veteran, should I not bother with applying or is the competition not all that bad?

– August 04, 2010 11:15 AM

A.Derrick Dortch:Hello Veterans Preference, many agencies are focused on veteran hiring but they are also hiring non veterans. This is a myth that veterans are taking all of the jobs. Also with the new hiring reforms there will still be veterans preference but it does equal the playing field on who can be selected for positions. The new hiring reform no longer focuses on just the point system and the top candidates who have the highest score. It now take a look at all of those who are deemed best qualified and a hiring manager can select from that group. So please keep applying. Agencies are hiring entry level personnel who are not veterans all the time.

I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– August 04, 2010 12:40 PM

Derrick Dortch : Well my producer is telling me we need to close up the show. Just to give you a heads up there are some new developments going on at The Washington Post and our schedule may be changed so stay tuned. As I find out more we will share with you the new changes.

Thank you so much for stopping by the show today. Know that you are very much so appreciated. Thank you as always to my Producer Sakina for all of her great work.

Till the next time stay safe and I wish you much success in your career, work and life.

– August 04, 2010 12:44 PM

 
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