How to Read Federal Job Announcements

It is important to pay close attention to all the details in the job announcement. First, you need to ensure you are eligible and qualified for the position. And second, you need to confirm that you complete the entire application properly. 

When reviewing job announcements, pay attention to the following sections: 

  • Conditions of Employment: Review this component in the requirements section to first ensure that you meet the requirements for this position. 
  • Qualifications: This component will detail the qualifications necessary to excel in this position. Your application will only be considered if you meet these qualifications, which may include a certain level of education or years of work experience. 
  • Required Documents: Items including your federal resume, transcript or other forms must be submitted. Be sure to note all the documents that are required and how long it will take to gather those documents. 
  • How to Apply: 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 descriptions closely. Even if the descriptions seem unusually long, a careful reading will save you time and energy in the long run. 

The job announcement is divided into seven sections: 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: Gives information on the number of vacancies the position will fill and where those are located. This section will also detail any of the position’s flexibilities, including telework opportunities. 

Duties: Highlights the major responsibilities of the position.    

Requirements: Identifies skills and experience needed for the role and explains how applications will be assessed. This section also includes the level of background investigation needed for this position. 

How you are evaluated will depend on the rating you receive when filling out the application questionnaire located in the how you will be evaluated” section. The statements in the questionnaire provide you with another opportunity to list your core competencies for this position.  

Do note that you can review the questions you will be asked before you apply. As you fill out each answer, consider if your responses are backed by the experiences you’ve included in your resume.   

Required documents: Includes all the documentation needed to complete the application. This includes documentation to prove eligibility for a hiring flexibility.  

Benefits: Describes additional elements of the compensation package or perks associated with the position.   

How to Apply: Includes step-by-step instructions on how to apply, as well as information about when and how you can expect to hear from the agency. Also look here for additional application materials that may be required. 

Pro Tips: Submitting Your Federal Job Application

Start Early

The federal application process may have more steps than you are accustomed to. Allow plenty of time to thoroughly complete your application by the indicated deadline.  
 
NOTE: Some positions may have an application cap, and, in that case, you should submit your application as soon as possible since some positions will meet their cap the same day they are announced. 

Follow the Instructions

After reading the application requirements in the job announcement and reviewing the “how to apply” section, be sure to complete each step and include all requested items. When you are ready to submit your application on USAJOBS.gov, you may be redirected to an external hiring system. You will need to create a login on this website to submit your application. Be sure to submit all application materials through the agency’s system of choice. 

Note Key Application Details

For future reference, save both the job announcement number and the HR contact information listed in the job posting in case you need to follow up with the agency.

Save a Copy of Your Application

It will be helpful to review your application if you are asked to interview, especially if you have recently applied to several jobs.

Be Consistent

Each component of your application package should reinforce your qualifications for the position. Be consistent in what skills and abilities you highlight in the resume, questionnaire and other application materials so they all complement each other.