The federal hiring freeze is here. The obvious question: So what?

If you looking for a government job it means your market has been cut in half, and competition will be much tougher.

If you are thinking about transfering to another agency it many mean some roadblocks.

If you are due a promotion it could mean delays.

If you are in charge of hiring, or managing programs, it means a new set of rules.

The help guide agencies during the freeze, the Office of Management and Budget has drafted a list of things they can and cannot do during the freeze. It is being distributed to top federal officials, and advises:

Promises, Promises: If you received a "commitment letter" for a job prior to March 1, you are safe. An agency mut honor hiring promises they made before the freeze was imposed. But vacancies occuring after Feb. 29 (official date of the freeze) are subject to regulations that limit agencies to filling only one of every two vacancies. That is called the 1-for-2 rule.

U.S. Postal Service: It is exempt from the freeze. Most other federal agencies must live with it.

Internal Transfers: The 1-for-2 replacement rule does not apply to job changes within an agency. But the 1-for-2 replacement rule covers people moving from one agency to another. The exception is moves "because of a transfer of functions resulting from presidential reorganization or legislative action."

Summer Jobs: They will not be harmed by the freeze. Temporary jobs in established programs are not covered by the freeze. If you have been promised a summer federal job you should get it. It is now too late to apply for a job for the summer of 1980.

Stay-In-School-Programs: The stay-in school program that employs about 60,000 needy youths will continue as before. OMB's directive says "the filling of positions under programs that are presently emempt from employment ceilings" may continue.

Emergency Hiring: Agencies may hire people without regard to the 1-for-2 rule in "emergency situations involving the safety of human life and protection of property."

Contracting Out: Agencies have been told not to hire outsiders to circumvent the freeze. OMB says: "Contracting with firms and institutions outside the government will not be used to alleviate or circumvent the effect of this limitation."

Temporary Hires: OMB's guidelines advise that "individuals will not be hired on a temporary basis as a substitute for full-time permanent employes to evade this limitation."

Promotions: OMB doesn't bar, or encourage, promotions. What it does do is tell managers to use personnel dollars wisely "to meet the needs of highest priority -- particularly to assure that vital and basic services are not interrupted."