How to Understand Government Job/Career Pay Scales

Many people know that government jobs pay well, but most people don’t know much more than that. The truth is government jobs pay includes “Locational Pay.” With most government positions, there is a increase in pay for where you are geographically located. Government agencies have different pay scales i.e. GS (General Schedule) positions.

The key to selecting a government agency to apply to is to research and find out as much as possible. You must research the agency and the pay scales of the agencies. Find out about the locality pay, hazard pay, or any other positional pays that may be associated with the desired position.

We all know that pay is an important aspect of any career selection. There are benefits to earning a position with the government. It is not so different than any other position you may have applied for in the past. There are a few exceptions…the government has great benefits that no other civilian company may or may not be able to match.

Where people get confused is with the General Schedule Step grades, GS pay scales for the Office of Personnel has pay grades within the pay grade are called STEPs. Meaning, there are “STEPS” to earning promotion within the pay grade. When you review the GS Pay scale on OPM website you will see basic, locality and then there is also a pay scale that combines basic pay and locality depending on the location of the position. Among the pay scale are the STEPS of the pay. Steps are normally given to the pay grade employee depending on “time in grade” the normal promotional time period is 1 year per pay scale and STEP.

Here is a web site for the Office of Personnel Management that will give you more insight on how this agency categorizes its pay grades and locality pay. For more information click on: Government Pay Scales

Happy Government Job Hunting,
Jenice

How to Write Government KSAs for USA JOBS Applications

Your government application will be evaluated by a Human Resources Specialist and they will be reviewing your on-line or mailed in resume and your responses to the User Information, Core Questions, and Vacancy Questions. The Job Specific questions will relate to the following knowledge, skills and abilities required to do the work of this position. Many people don’t realize that many applications are “thrown out” because of a lack of KSAs being addressed by the applicant.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL federal positions are advertised on www.usajobs.gov. Many people don’t realize this, DON’T be fooled by “other” websites that promise to advertise federal jobs. Many of these “other” websites charge applicants to view federal positions and re-route their job links, but rest assure that these “other” websites are “pulling” information from www.usajobs.gov to get their information about advertised federal positions.
No matter what agency you are applying to, the advertised job will have KSAs or Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. You need to read the entire job announcement because some federal agencies require applicants to submit addition information on a separate piece of paper about how they feel they meet those exact KSAs and some agencies don’t require KSAs to be answered at all. (You can press the PRINT PREVIEW button to see the entire announcement located at the bottom of the announcement.)

Overall, KSAs are important because this is how you WILL be evaluated on the position you have applied for. If your resume or applicant doesn’t contain the listed KSAs your application will not be found “NOT qualified” and your application will be put in the NOT Qualified stack of applications. The Key to writing government KSAs in your resume is to put the EXACT KSAs which are found in the job announcement in your resume or application WORD-FOR-WORD.

So if these KSAs are in a job announcement:
Ability to evaluate and process realty applications and proposals and conduct compliance examinations on authorized actions.
Knowledge of the laws and regulations governing the realty program and the ability to use sound professional judgment to resolve conflicts with other resources.
– Ability to communicate with the public, the applicant, and other agencies regarding realty related matters.
Copy and paste, or type these exact KSAs into you online resume/application or type them into your resume/application. After you do this make sure you give examples of how you meet the KSAs. Ensure your resume and applicant look exactly alike.

Keep in mind this statement is ALWAYS in ALL Federal job announcement:
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS MUST BE SUPPORTED IN YOUR RESUME. If your answer(s) are not supported in your resume, or you fail to follow the instructions for the question(s), you will have your answer(s) adjusted to reflect what is provided, for failure to follow instructions.
This means that if your resume doesn’t match the supplemental questions or application you answered in the online application or written application, the agency can change your application score. You need to remember: SCORES are from 100 points to 70 points. The applicant résumés with the highest scores are reviewed first. Your goal is to receive as many points as possible.

You have been empowered, now go and get your federal job.

Dr. Jenice Armstead aka Dr. Jaye

Dr Jaye

How to Convert Military Experience into a Civilian Resume

Military personnel have many jobs while on active and reserve duty. Military personnel are often discharged from the military with little to no information on the process of converting military experience into civilian sector terminology. Military experience is not easily understood by the civilian sector. There are easy ways to convert military experience into civilian verbiage using job description templates found on the Internet.

It is important for military personnel to write out experience as it relates to civilian jobs. This is done utilizing job descriptions sites such as O*Net, Indeed and Career Builder. These sites provide job description information civilian sectors are using to hire applicants. Job experience should be broken down into bullets, which is the basic resume structure. A helpful book when completing this task is “Job Search, Marketing Your Military Experience By David G. Henderson.” This book provides excellent information on how to convert your military experience into civilian experience. It is an easy to understand book that provides examples and tips for converting military experience and is useful for all military forces.

Do some research on military specialties, then get detailed about what the specialty entails. Explain the experience in layman terms, and remember to keep it simple. Conduct Internet searches on “Job Descriptions” to find examples of pre-written job descriptions. Copy and paste the desired job description example and use it as a template to assist with converting military experience into civilian experience.

Create 3 resumes, a short, medium and long resume. The short resume provides a brief overview of position held and tasks. The medium adds tools and technologies of the positions. Finally, the long resume is a combination of all of experience from the first position held to present position. This includes job summary, tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities, tools and technologies of the position. Remember to create the long resume first, use the long resume to create the medium and the short resume.

Happy job hunting,

Jenice

How to Get Updates on Government Job Applications

Once you have submitted your government application on www.usajob.gov there are specific ways to keep up with your application status. There are free tools that can be utilized on www.usajobs.gov. There are a few ways to get the status of your government application and you should check the status at least weekly.

After you have submitted your government application, wait until the job announcement closes to check the status of your application. Log into your www.usajobs.gov profile and click on the title “Application Status.” Find the announcement you wish to check on. Some government agencies link the application status the agency site. If so, you will be redirected to the agency website where you submitted your original application. You will be able to view the status of your application here.

If the agency does not use this hyperlink, it will say “no application status available” this is okay. Don’t be discouraged. Click on the job announcement title and a second window will open up. Scroll down to the bottom of the job announcement and find the point of contact. You will see contact phone number or an email address (if supplied). Contact this person and request the “Applicant Status.”

There are times the contact gives you a vague answer about the job announcement status. If this happens, ask a more specific question like “Has their been a selection for the position? Or Have I been found qualified for the position?” This will ensure you get a more detailed answer. I recommend always contacting the point of contact via email to ensure you have written documentation in case you have any issues with the job announcement in the future.

Happy Job Hunting,

Jenice

Tips for Writing a Government Resume

First, you need to create a word document and type your “basic” resume in your desired format. Once you have your basic resume, make a folder for other more specific resumes you may need to create for job announcements you apply for. Now that you have your basic resume completed you will be able to edit the basic resume and tailor it toward government job announcements based on your qualifications and KSAs.

Second, tailor your resume. Copy and paste the “major duties” section of the job announcement into your basic resume and explain in detail how you meet the “minimum qualifications” of the job announcement. You can do this in bullet format, or in a standard resume format. Either way, you need to custom your resume. Often, applicant’s whom are selected for an interview have the qualifications posted verbatim from the job announcements.

Often, federal applications are reviewed using a “data mining” human resources information system, which assists human resources specialists with large application workload. Job announcements may have a contact number or an email address, this is public information for you to use to ensure your application was received and submitted successfully.

Custom your resume toward the job announcement in order to ensure your application receives the attention it deserves. Keep in mind, if you over state your qualifications your application can be discarded. Be honest, detailed and exact.

Happy Job Hunting,
Jenice

How to Write Government Application KSAs (Knowledge, Skill and Ability’s)

Federal government applications evaluated by a human resources specialists. They will review your responses to the User Information, Core Questions, and Vacancy Questions. The job specific questions will relate to the knowledge, skills and abilities required of the position. Many applications are “thrown out” because of a lack of KSAs addressed by the applicant.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL federal positions are advertised on www.usajobs.gov. DON’T be fooled by “other” websites that promise to advertise federal jobs for a “small cost.” Many of these “other” websites charge applicants to view federal positions and merely re-route the job links, but rest assure that these “other” websites are “pulling” information from www.usajobs.gov to get information about advertised federal positions.

No matter what agency you are applying to, the advertised job will have KSAs or Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. You need to read the entire job announcement. At times, federal agencies require applicants to submit addition information about specific job announcement KSAs. (Go to the PRINT PREVIEW button to view the entire announcement requirements)

Example job announcement KSAs:
• Knowledge of the laws and regulations governing the realty program and the ability to use sound professional judgment to resolve conflicts with other resources.
• Skilled in understanding laws and regulation and analyzing realty programs
• Ability to evaluate and process realty applications and proposals and conduct compliance examinations on authorized actions.

This statement is ALWAYS in federal job announcements:
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS MUST BE SUPPORTED IN YOUR RESUME. If your answer(s) are not supported in your resume, or you fail to follow the instructions for the question(s), you will have your answer(s) adjusted to reflect what is provided, for failure to follow instructions.

This means if your resume does not “match” the required KSAs within the advertised job announcement, the agency may manually lower your application score. Federal applications are scored from 0 points to 100 points. Your goal is to receive as many points as possible. Human resources specialists review applications with the highest scores first.

Overall, KSAs are important and you will be evaluated based the information submitted to the job announcement. The key to writing government KSAs is to put the EXACT KSAs which are found in the job announcement within your resume or application WORD-FOR-WORD. Then go into detail about how your qualifications meet the KSAs.

Happy Job Hunting,
Jenice

How to Apply for Government Jobs

There are many benefits to applying and earning a government position. In this economy people are looking for job stability and benefits. The government has job security, benefits and more.

In this economy, the government sector is hiring all types of positions. Many government agencies are still receiving stimulus money to create new jobs in all career fields. Government agencies are having problems finding the people to apply for the positions. That’s right, agencies are having problems finding people, because the public isn’t applying for government jobs as they did in the past. There are positions that need to be filled such as: Grounds Keepers, Administration Assistants, Administrative Secretaries, Engineers, Forest Rangers, Information Technicians, Clerks, Legal Assistants and the list goes on and on and on and on.

There are some keys factors to completing government job applications. First of all, you need to create or update a personal profile on the main free government website: www.usajobs.gov. This is a “free” website that all government jobs are posted on, no matter what government department it is. There are a ton of scams that “say” they need a payment in order for you to gain access to federal positions. This is false! It is completely FREE to search and apply for government jobs. Although, many federal agencies fill jobs using private sector personnel, USAJOBs allows applicants looking for specific positions to “searches” tailored to the seeking candidates needs.

One of the main factors is to review “eligible and qualified” factors of a job announcement you want to apply for. This part can be a bit tricky; the key is to go to the “Who May Apply” and “Requirements” tab at the top of the job announcement. Review the information. There is where the details of “Who May Apply” for the position and what the “Requirements” are for the position. If you feel you meet the requirements move on to the next step and “Apply” for the position.

Remember, when using USAJOBS your profile information is “attached” to your application when you submit it. Make sure to complete your USAJOBS profile before applying for any positions on USAJOBS. Supplemental documents are also “attached” to any application you submit via USAJOBS. Make sure that all your documents i.e. DD214, SF 50, unofficial transcripts, cover letter or training certifications are all attached to the document section of your profile.

Happy USAJOB Hunting
Jenice

How to Answer Key Interview Questions: Education

We all know that education is vital in today’s job market. The fact is education comes in all arrays of quality and may be obtain in a variety of ways. You don’t have to have a degree to be considered educated, but you do have to have proof that you completed an educational program for which you are claiming you acquired the knowledge from.

During your interviews selecting officials may want to know: What courses you liked most while attending school? What courses did you like least? These questions are steered toward the selecting official finding out more about you and what types topics interests you. This could be a mode of examining your personality traits or rating your ability to be trained on the job you are interviewing for.

The next possible question: Why did you choose your course of study? This question is geared toward the selecting official gaining a deeper understanding of your professional agenda. This question is asked with the intentions of understanding the applicant’s passion for the field. Be honest and be short. Don’t give a long answer; the selecting official doesn’t want to know your entire educational background, only what pertains to the position you are applying for. Keep it short and sweet unless asked additional questions. Examples of experiences with training programs should show what you learned and how you applied the knowledge.

Selecting officials want to know if you prepared for the interview. Make sure to practice answering these questions on your own or with a friend. It is helpful to use an audio device for you to review and critique yourself. This will improve you interviewing skills.

Happy Job Hunting,
Jenice

How to Answer Key Interview Questions: Training Information

Training and education are core elements of the job force. Without training and education work experience will only get you so far. With training, education and experience you will practically be handed more opportunities than you will know what to do with. But, inflating education and training accomplishments on your resume will hurt you in the long run. Be honest and factual with what you have been trained on and what you need training in. Always include On the Job Training (OJT), this is as valuable as formal education.

Some questions you will be asked: What training have you had including grade school or college? Many applicants are finding that they need additional education and training, but experience goes hand and hand with education and training. With this question you need to elaborate on any certifications you many have as well as any courses online you have taken as well. Online courses from an accredited school are important to discuss. There are ways of obtain knowledge if you have not obtained formal education

Interviewers will also ask you: What workshops, OJT or other training do you have? This is an open-ended question targeted toward learning more about ability to be trained. If you are human resources professional, they will want to know if you have been to any staffing or employee relations workshops. If you are information technology professional they will want to know if you have been to any fiber optic, customer service or trouble shooting workshops. If you haven’t been to any workshops or OJT, state that and also state your interest in developing your skills for the benefit of the company. The new job market wants to understand your ability to want to learn and grow as well has your past training background.

One of the last questions you WILL be asked is: Do you have any skills that are not listed on your resume or in your application? This is a great opportunity for you to “talk yourself up.” This means that you have an opportunity to talk as much about you and your skills and how unique you are. This is your time to shine, so don’t put every single detail on your resume. Give yourself some “room” to talk about yourself.

Happy Job Hunting
Jenice

How to Answer Key Interview Questions: Work Experience

We all have had an interview at one time or another in our professional careers. Interviews are hard enough as it is with getting through the first cuts of other qualified applicants, now that you have the interview all set up there are some questions that will be asked of you during the interview. The key to an interview is not one single thing, yet many items that you will be evaluated on.

Work Experience

Your work experience will be the first items up for “conversation” after the small talk with a selecting official. They will want to know: Why are you interested in the job? This isn’t a trick question; it’s a question the selecting official really wants to know. Are you looking for a career change? Are you looking for a new position because you were laid off? The key to answering this question is to be honest, don’t give your whole life story – but be honest.
Many government agencies like to know that the applicants have done some research on the organization. So, the next question will likely be: Why are you interested in working for this organization? This is an open ended question that can be short and sweet. You should make some kind of reference to the research you have done on the organization. For example, if you are interviewing for a Fire Fighter position – you could answer with something to the reference of “I am interested in working for this organization because I agree with the mission statement of saving lives and preserving the wild life.” Yes, it is cheesy, but if it’s true you should say it. Again, you need to be as professionally honest as possible. This will also come into handy with the next question: What do you know about the company? You will be able to elaborate on the previous answer you gave about the previous question.

The next question is vitally important: What do you feel you can contribute to this organization? This is a question that you MUST answer with YOU in mind for what YOU can contribute to the company. For many selecting officials this question is a “make or break” factor. If an applicant starts with what they feel they need from a company instead of what they CAN and WILL contribute to a company, the interview will be cut short. The key is to stay focused on what YOU can BRING to the COMPANY, not what you want from the company.

There are a series of questions that are often asked in conjunction with each other: Why did you leave you last job? What would your last employer say about you? Would your last employer re-hire you? And Give me an example of a situation where you had to make a decision? What was the situation? What was the decision? And what was the result? Now, these questions are called “character questions.” These are designed to “weed out” the real applicants from those whom have not been so honest during the interview. The best advice I can give is to be honest, have professional examples in mind before the interview and take your time answering the questions. You can ask the selecting official to re-state the questions, you can write the questions down and you have all the time in the world. REMEMBER: YOU are there because they saw something in your resume, phone interview or overall application that they liked.

Happy Job Hunting,

Jenice Armstead

Wisdom Wednesday: Earning Veteran’s Preference

There are many factors to “earning” veteran’s preference when applying for a federal or government job.

The Office of Personnel has created a “Veteran’s Guide” to help those agencies ensure they are giving veteran’s the right preferences, this guide is the all tell all on seeing if a veteran has status or not. Yes, you read that right, just because you are a veteran doesn’t mean that you automatically are able to apply for government jobs. In order to apply you have to be a veteran and stipulations apply.

First thing is first, you must be a veteran or have some other kind of veteran status. This is just one of many criteria one must meet to become eligible for veterans status. To receive preference, a veteran must have been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions (i.e., with an honorable or general discharge). This is crucial because, if you have a dishonorable discharge you are disqualified from veteran status.

Note: Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference in appointment unless they are disabled veterans upon being discharged or separated from the military.

The key is know what type of Veteran’s preference you have, the following explains what Veteran’s preference actually is:

5-Point Preference (TP)
Five points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a veteran who served:
During a war; or

During the period April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955; or

For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or

During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992; or

For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or

In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference.

A campaign medal holder or Gulf War veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty) must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligibles separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.

When veterans with 5 point (TP) status apply for federal positions, 5 points are automatically added to their application scores. Yes, federal applications receive scores. When you complete a federal application you receive a score from 1 – 100 percent, applicant scores are tallied up once the announcement has closed. If your application did not receive a “high enough” score you should be contacted by the human resources of the position for which you applied. If you have any additional questions about your application, contact the human resources office of the agency for which you applied.

References:
Veterans Job Information: http://www.fedshirevets.gov/job/index.aspx
Veteran’s Guide: http://www.opm.gov/staffingPortal/Vetguide.asp

Getting Government Application Updates

After you have submitted your government application wait until the job announcement closes to check the status of your application.  Log into your www.usajobs.gov profile and click on the title “Application Status” on the left hand side.  Then find the announcement you wish to check on.  Go to the “application status” which is a blue underlined word and click this hyperlink.  Some government agencies don’t link the application status to this hyperlink and some agencies do.  If the agency does use this hyperlink, you will be redirected to the agency website where you submitted your original application.  You will be able to view the status of your application here.

If the agency does not use this hyperlink, it will say “no application status available” this is okay.  Don’t be discouraged.  Click on the job announcement title and a second window will open up.  Scroll down to the bottom of the job announcement and find the point of contact.  You will see contact phone number or an email address.  Contact this person and request the “Applicant Status.”  Sometimes, you may get a HR Specialist whom doesn’t want to talk or gives you a vague answer.

If this happens, ask a more specific question like “Has the selecting official received the list of applicant’s resumes that have been referred and qualified for the position?” This will ensure you get a more detailed answer.  I recommend always contacting the point of contact via email; this will ensure you have written documentation in case you have any issues with this job announcement in the future.

All the best to you, and if you have any questions – you know where to find me.

Jenice

Applying for Government Jobs

Job security is important. People need job stability and benefits. There is job security in government positions, along with providing benefits and more. Many government agencies are receiving special hiring funding for creating new jobs in all career fields of the federal sector.

Government agencies are having problems finding eligible and qualified people to fill the positions. That’s right! Government agencies are having problems finding candidates, because the public isn’t applying for the government jobs. The positions that are needed to be filled range from: grounds keepers, administration assistants, secretaries, engineers, forest rangers, information technicians, legal assistants and the list goes on and on. Many people who are taking advantage of opportunities, being found qualified, and ultimately hired into the governmental industry, and you can too.

There are some keys factors when it comes to applying to government positions. First of all, you need to create or update a profile on the main “free” government website USAJOBs. Most federal government jobs are posted on this website for the public to apply for. Although, some federal agencies fill jobs using private sector staffing agencies, most use USAJOBs as their main job announcement forum. USAJOBs allows applicants to look for specific positions, and the application process is extremely easy to follow.

Search for your desire job, directly apply to any job announcement that is posted to the public and upload your documents. Applicants can conduct an advance search which allows for exact location and salary preferences to be determined by the applicant. For more information on how to apply for government jobs, check out my book “10 Tips for Applying to Government Jobs.”

How to Write a Federal Resume

Many applicants do not know how to write a resume for federal positions or where to apply for positions.  USAJOBS is the Federal Government’s official one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. The majority of all available federal positions can be found via that site.

After creating an account the next step will be to create the resume.  USAJOBS provides two methods for creating the resume, Build or Upload.  This article is design to discuss some key things to have in the resume regardless of which method is used for creating the resume.

There are a few methods for writing and creating a federal resume, the first key is to review the major duties of the job announcement. You MUST “mirror” your resume on the major duties and the KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) to ensure you have all the information required to meet the minimum qualifications for the position you are applying for.

You need to create a word document and type your “basic” resume up in your desired format. Once you have your basic resume, make a folder for other more specific resumes you may need to create for positions you may apply for. Once you have your basic resume completed you will be able to edited the basic resume and tailor it toward other positions.

Second, in order to tailor your resume, I suggest you copy and paste the “major duties” section of the job announcement you are going to apply to into your basic resume and explain in detail how you meet the “major duties” of that particular job announcement. You can do this in bullet format, or in a standard resume format. Either way, you need to custom tailor your resume in order to receive full qualification consideration from the agency advertising the job announcement.

If your basic resume doesn’t state those exact “major duties” you may not be found qualified for the job announcement. Don’t be afraid to contact the point of contact on the job announcement. If there is a number or an email address, you may contact that point of contact to ask about the major duties, KSAs or if your application was received or not.

The bottom line is to custom your resume toward the job announcement in order to ensure your application receives the attention it deserves. Keep in mind, if you over state your qualifications your application can be discarded. Be honest, detailed and exact. All the best to you on your achieving your federal career.