Sometimes it can seem like your federal government job application goes into a black hole. It’s an especially easy assumption to make if, like many applicants, you don’t hear back from anyone for a while. The truth is you've got a lot of competition out there and with hundreds—sometimes several hundreds—of applicants for every goverment job, it takes time to get through them all. The good news is that federal agencies are working to streamline the hiring process and increase transparency about where your application is in the process.
Once the application period closes, the human resources office will evaluate each application. If you meet the basic qualifications, your name could be referred to the selecting official. He or she will choose applicants to interview from the list of highly-qualified candidates.
Although every agency has a different hiring process in practice, most agencies strive to fill their open positions in 80 days or less. After the job is posted and closed, the agency should make a decision within 6-8 weeks. If you do not receive any communication regarding that position within 15-20 days after the closing date they may want to contact the agency point of contact listed in the job announcement.
Once you’ve submitted an application, the agency should notify you at four points in the process:
Your application may be one of hundreds that the agency is reviewing, so if you are serious about securing the job, you should take a proactive approach to find out the status of your application. Feel free to contact the agency by email or phone, as long as you are courteous, polite and not burdensome. Be respectful of the employee’s time since answering jobseeker inquiries is not likely their primary responsibility.
You can also track the status of your application by logging in to your USAJOBS.gov account or from within the agency system you used to apply.
When contacting any federal agency, it is important that you have a purpose in mind. If the application has not closed, you may want to ask additional information. If you do not hear from the agency within 2-3 weeks of the position closing, you may want to contact the agency to confirm receipt of application or to verify application materials were submitted in completion.
Each job announcement has a reference number. Be sure to reference the announcement number when contacting a federal agency about your application. This will help the agency contact locate your application quickly.