FAQs

Q. What is the federal government?
A.

 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.

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

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

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

 Absolutely not! Only 15 percent of federal jobs are in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Most federal agencies have regional offices throughout the country. There are also nearly 30,000 federal jobs overseas. Search by location at USAJOBS to find positions near you.  

Q. How do I apply for federal employment?
A.

 There must be a job announcement posted 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. 

Q. What does the federal job application process entail?
A.

 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 its needs. 

Q. Where do I find internship postings?
A.

 Internships that are part of the Pathways Programs will be posted in USAJOBS. Other internship positions—volunteer or third-party internships—will be posted on individual agency websites.

Q. What is a federal resume? Is it different than a traditional resume?
A.

 Federal resumes are a bit different from the ones you would use to apply to positions in the 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 and tailor it for individual applications.

Q. How long does the hiring process take?
A.

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

Q. How long does the security clearance process take?
A.

 The background investigation and clearance process can be lengthy depending on the level of clearance you are receiving and your personal history. For more on the security clearance process, visit our background investigations page.