FAQs and tips for getting started - Go Government

Frequently asked questions

What is the federal government?

The U.S. federal government is composed of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. For the purposes of this site, we will focus primarily on federal employment within the executive branch at federal agencies, offices and subcomponents.

Is the federal government hiring? How do I find a job?

Yes! With more than two million employees, the federal government is the nation’s largest employer and is always hiring. USAJOBS.gov lists the most recent job postings to date. However, not all positions are listed on USAJOBS.gov, so be sure to visit agency websites for the most current information.

How do I apply for federal employment?

There must be a job announcement posted in order to apply for a federal job. A federal application generally consists of submitting a federal resume and other application materials as listed in the job announcement.

What does the federal job application process entail?

A typical application process in the federal government includes submitting your federal resume and application materials, completing assessments, interviewing with agency representatives and receiving a security clearance. However, every agency will adjust this process to best meet their needs.

Do I have to work in D.C. if I want to work for the federal government?

Absolutely not! Only 9 percent of federal jobs are located in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Most federal agencies have regional offices located throughout the country. There are also 50,000 federal jobs overseas. Search by location in USAJOBS.gov to see positions open in your area.

Where do I find internship postings?

Internships that are part of the Pathways Programs will be posted in USAJOBS.gov. Other internship positions—volunteer or third-party internships—will be posted on individual agency websites. There is no comprehensive database of internship postings.

What is a federal resume? Is it different than a traditional resume?

Federal resumes are a bit different from private sector. Federal resumes require more detail and are therefore a bit longer than a traditional resume. On a federal resume you need to include items such as number of hours worked per week and supervisor contact information. You can build your federal resume on USAJOBS.gov and tailor for individual applications.

How long does the hiring process take?

Obtaining a federal job can take between two and six months, sometimes even longer. While every agency has different hiring practices, there are additional hiring steps to ensure an equal and fair assessment for all candidates. High numbers of applications per position can lengthen out the hiring process. Be patient—the process is getting better and while it may be longer than you are used to, it will be worth the wait.

Tips for getting started

Whether you’re new to the federal job search or an experienced jobseeker, we want to make it easy for you to get going. Here's our best advice:

Expand your horizons

The federal government is larger than you think, with opportunities you may not have considered. Our agency overview pages will help you think outside the box to consider additional employers and positions. Visit this site with an open mind and you may be surprised at what you discover.

Focus your search

Since there are so many opportunities out there, it is critical to narrow your search as you discover specific positions, organizations or offices that might be right for you. As you learn more about the government, this site will help you identify what is most important to you in a government position, so you don’t waste time in your job search.

Apply with support

Applying to a federal job is a little different than a typical application process. You are bound to have questions, which is why we have compiled our best tips and advice all in one place. Use this site every step of the way and we will help to ensure your application is top notch.