USAJOBS is the official website for federal jobs. Remember that name, because USAJOBS has nearly all government job openings and includes all the spicy details about job duties, the minimum qualifications you need to have, the salary range and the basic benefits. You can also find federal internships here. The site has thousands of announcements for jobs and internships, but never fear. Below we offer the following tips and step-by-step instructions to make your federal job search less daunting.

Creating an Account

Create an account to get full access to USAJOBS. Then you can:

  • Save and automate job searches. With this feature, you can generate searches based on your preferences for job location, schedule and travel involved. Once you enter those choices, you’ll start to get automated emails when a position opens that fits your preferences. Your USAJOBS account also lets you save up to 10 jobs that interest you.
  • Create and upload multiple versions of your resume. Once you have that perfect master resume, you can get creative from there, fashioning other resumes tailored for specific positions.
  • Track the status of each of your applications and where they are in the process. Are you still in the running? Is there anything else you should do? And use the HR contact information at the bottom of job announcements to ask any additional questions about the position.

Searching for Positions

You can refine your searches with the advanced search feature, to narrow by:

  • Agency: Select one or more agency or office preference.
  • Job categories: Click a specific occupational series or occupations related to college majors, using the government codes assigned to specific fields. For example, you can search by occupational series 1040 if you are a language specialist. Or when you’re first starting, you can just type in “language specialist” and you’ll see it comes with a number. Which is, as we mentioned, 1040. Or there’s 1000 for the more general “Information, Arts and Publications.”
  • Grade: Select the appropriate GS grade level, which defines job responsibility and compensation based on your level of experience.
  • Work schedule and work type: Search for full-time and permanent positions or short-term positions that last from a few months to a few years. Your choice. There are filter options that include internships and the Pathways Programs, which offer positions specifically for recent graduates and students. If that’s you, go for it!
  • Location: You can choose a city, state or country. Or type in the zip codes of the locations you prefer and choose a radius of five to 200 miles, depending on how far from the bulls-eye you’re willing to go.

How to Read Federal Job Announcements

Pay close attention to all the details in a job announcement to make sure you’re eligible and qualified for the position—and that you’ve completed the entire application properly. Read each position description carefully, no matter how long it is. You want to have the best chance there is to apply correctly and make a good impression.

Pay particular attention to the following items:

  • Conditions of Employment: These conditions are in the requirements section and tell you know if you’re eligible to apply.
  • Qualifications: Hiring managers consider only those applicants with the minimum qualifications, such as a certain education level or years of work experience. This is not a place to wing it and hope for the best.
  • Required Documents: You’ll have to submit a federal resume and, possibly, transcripts and other forms.
  • How to Apply: Follow these directions closely to be sure you’ve completed the application correctly.

Those are important pieces of the application, but job announcements have seven sections total: overview, location, duties, requirements, required documents, benefits, and how to apply.

Overview: Gives details of the position’s application period, salary, work schedule and pay scale and grade.

Location: Has information on how many people the government wants to hire for a position, in how many places, and where those jobs are located. This section also details options for flexible work schedules, including remote work opportunities.

Duties: Highlights the position’s major responsibilities.

Requirements: Identifies the skills and experience you need, and the level of background investigation for the job, and explains how the employer will assess applications.

When filling out the application, make sure your responses align with the experiences you’ve included in your resume. For some applications, you may be able to review questions before you decide to sit down and apply.

Required documents: Includes all the documentation you need to complete the application.

Benefits: Describes additional elements of the compensation package and other perks.

How to Apply: Includes instructions and information about when and how you can expect to hear from the agency and may have additional application materials that are required.

Other Places to Find Positions

Most, but not all, federal jobs and internships are posted on USAJOBS. But there are other places to look for opportunities as well.

Agency websites
Some agencies post jobs on their own site rather than government’s central website. For example, the 17 distinct agencies within the Intelligence Community post positions on their individual agency career webpages or at intelligencecareers.gov. Also, most agencies have a jobs page on their website that provides helpful insights into their hiring processes, organizational charts and mission statements.

Partnership for Public Service Opportunities
The Partnership for Public Service administers several internship and fellowship programs on behalf of the federal government. These opportunities place students and recent graduates in the federal government to gain valuable work experience for short-term assignments. You can learn about these programs on the website.

Career fairs
Career or job fairs are a great way to meet agency representatives to learn about what agency employees do day to day. While there, you can learn straight from the source about the ins and outs of the application process. You can also use these fairs to ask about programs for students or recent graduates, and an agency’s hiring timeline. Keep in mind that most agencies don’t make offers on the spot.

Social media
In case you were wondering, yes, agencies use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms to post information about their job opportunities.

Personal Networks
Friends and family with government connections are likely to have great advice for you on how to find open positions. Faculty members, professors, careers services offices, alumni associations and professional organizations on campus are also good places to get information about open government positions or contacts at federal agencies.