How to read federal job announcements - Federal Government Careers - Go Government

How to read federal job announcements

While you are browsing for positions, focus first on whether you meet basic qualifications. Applications are readily dismissed by the agencies if the candidate is not eligible for the position, is not qualified, or does not complete the application properly. When reviewing job announcements, pay attention to the following sections:

  • Who may be considered: Review this item in the overview section to first ensure that you are eligible for this position.
  • Qualifications and evaluations: This section will give you the best idea of whether you have the qualifications necessary to excel in this position. Your application will only be considered if you meet the minimum qualifications.
  • How to apply: Missing documents or incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Make sure you understand what the application entails and follow directions closely to ensure your application is complete.

After you find a few positions that fit what you are looking for, it is critical that you read the position description closely. Even if the description seems unusually long, a careful reading will save you time and energy in the long run.

The job announcement is divided into five sections: overview, duties, qualifications and evaluations, benefits and other information, and how to apply.

Job announcement sections


The overview gives a quick summary of the position and is the first place to start when reviewing a job announcement. In addition to your specific work priorities, pay particular attention to the Who May Be Considered section.

  • Salary range: This is the lowest and highest salary amount that the government will pay someone in this position. The exact salary will largely depend on your experience level.
  • Open period: During this time window, agencies will be accepting applications. If you do not apply by the closing date, you will not be considered for this position. However, some positions will list closing dates that are months away. In that case, go ahead and apply as soon as possible. If the agency is reviewing applications in waves, you will want to be considered early on.
  • Series and grade: The four digit series number corresponds to a government job category. You can search by this category using the advanced search. The grade refers to the experience and pay level and can be a great indicator of whether or not you are qualified for position.
  • Position Information: The work schedule and appointment term is listed here. A full-time schedule is 40 hours a week and less than that is considered part-time. Permanent means this position is expected to be ongoing. Some positions may last only a few months or a few years—these are described as temporary or term appointments.
  • Promotion potential: This refers to the grade level that the person in this position will have and if there is potential to be promoted in this position without applying for a new job.
  • Duty locations: Be sure to consider the job location before submitting your application. There may be more than one location posted in a job announcement.
  • Who may be considered: This information is critical to understand. Don’t waste your time applying for a position that is not open to you. Status Candidates are current federal employees or previous federal employees who held non-temporary appointments in the competitive service. If you are not a federal employee, make sure that U.S. Citizens or the general public are able to be considered.


Basic responsibilities of the position are highlighted in the duties section. There is generally much more detail here than in the overview. Read the duties carefully because the title of the position may not accurately reflect the duties of the job.

Qualifications and evaluations

The qualifications will give you important insight into what background, training, and/or experience the agency is looking for in the person they hope to hire. This information will also serve as a useful guide for you in preparing your federal resume and application materials. Be sure to keep the qualifications in mind when creating these documents.

Some applications will list critical Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s) in this section. These statements are simply another way of listing core competencies for this position. Throughout your application, make sure that you reference the qualifications—including specific knowledge, skills and abilities—and how you possess the skills needed in the position.

Additionally, the qualifications will provide important clues as to how your experience will be evaluated and how you will be reviewed if you choose to apply. Your application will only be considered if your application meets the minimum qualification requirements. Be sure you are only considering positions that you are qualified for.

Benefits and other information

This section describes elements of the compensation package or perks associated with the job. Basic information about federal benefits can be found on

How to apply

This final section includes step-by-step instructions on how to apply, what documents are required, contact information, as well as information about when and how you can expect to hear from the agency.

Many agencies will use their own application system. When you are ready to apply or submit your application, you may be redirected from to an external hiring system and will need to create a login on this website to actually submit your application. It is critical that you complete all necessary steps to submit your application.

Required documents may include questionnaires, transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing samples, official documentation or other standardized forms. Double- and triple-check this list to make sure you are clear about what is required in your application.

If you have specific questions about the job, follow up directly with the human resources contact that is listed at the bottom of this section.

Most importantly, be sure to submit your application on time. Agencies almost never make exceptions for late applications—do not miss the due date.

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