A new season of federal hiring is emerging; tips to help job-hunters stay prepared

March 21

Good news! It may still be a little nippy outside, but it’s warming up in the federal job market.

The government is definitely hiring. An article recently in The Washington Post about the FBI is a good example. It is looking to fill 700 jobs, and the bureau isn’t alone. After some difficult times, federal agencies are beginning to ramp up hiring initiatives, and some have already started posting jobs.

This is good news for job seekers, who must keep certain things in mind if they want a shot at success. Listed below are a few pointers.

Short Open and Close periods: The period for job announcements is getting shorter. It used to be rare to see job announcements with short application deadlines, but it’s becoming a common practice. More positions are only open for two to seven days. This is especially the case in instances in which agencies expect a lot of candidates. This means that if you are not paying attention you may miss your dream job.

It’s important to monitor the job sites, such as USAJOBS, daily, otherwise you might miss your dream job. Also, make sure you do various keyword searches on your interest areas. Always remember that there are humans who are posting these jobs and so they will not always follow a set way of putting the job on USAJOBS.

Another important point for these times: Be application ready. When you spot a job announcement that interests you, be ready to send that resume immediately. This means you have to have done your homework already on the type of jobs you’re interested in and have a couple of resumes that would require minor tweaking and be ready at a moment’s notice.

Also, be ready for even stiffer competition. Mostly everyone now knows the secret of keywords on your resume. Those strategically placed words may get you qualified, but they won’t get you referred and selected for the interview on their own. You must make sure you have your own stories that show Situation, Action and Results that are qualitative and quantitative. I always tell people to look at their resume with a test: If I can take their name off and put someone else’s name on it and no one would be the wiser, then your resume is failing you. I cannot emphasize how important success stories are in federal resumes. Make sure the stories are relevant and demonstrate your ability to do the job.

Finally, keep these pointers in mind, too:

•Internships, if you are a student (college, graduate student, recent graduate), help get your foot in the door, paid or unpaid. Intern are often the first to be considered for some positions.

•NTE/TEMP/TERM: These are “Not To Exceed,” Temporary and Term Limit positions, and they are positions that sometimes allow you to get into an agency but they are not permanent. But show your worth and network well and see what happens.

It’s a good time to be looking for a federal job, but it’s still tough competition for fewer opportunities.

Dortch is president of the Diversa Group, which specializes in federal employment.

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