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You can spell success with Five P’s

These days, it may feel like there’s as much chance of landing a federal job as there is of winning the lottery. The federal job market has tightened and will continue to do so, but landing a government position is still easier than winning the lottery — especially if you use the Five P’s.

Parallel: Search on multiple tracks. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Do parallel job searches. Apply in the private sector, the nonprofit sector and at the federal level. Obviously, you also want to keep your finances straight. Remember, if you want a job with a security clearance, your finances are reviewed. Having any job is often better when you’re looking for your dream job. It allows you to be more strategic.

Preparation: The federal job search requires more tools and preparation than a private corporate or nonprofit job search. Your self-marketing tools must include such items as a general résumé, a USAJOBS (the official federal jobs site) résumé, a cover letter, a networking letter, KSAs (statements on knowledge, skills and abilities) and a career success portfolio. These are tools you can use at career fairs and interviews. Do your homework, too. Read about the agencies you’re interested in, making yourself familiar with their issues and their budgets. Showing that you are prepared will take you a long way.

Persuasiveness: You must be able to convince the human resources specialist and hiring manager that you are the best person for the job. This means telling success stories in your résumé and having them ready to deliver during an interview. Have samples of your work with you to help make your case.

Persistence: Don’t give up. If you are serious about becoming a federal worker, that should mean you are passionate about public service. Your passion will help keep you focused on achieving your goal.

Patience: A federal job search can last three to 12 months. And if you are lucky enough to land a conditional offer that requires a security clearance, be prepared to wait a little longer.

The Five P’s can help you hit the federal jackpot.

Derrick T. Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, is a career counselor who specializes in government job searches and military transition.

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