OK, so now it is time to hit that SEND button. So far, we have looked at some of the in’s and out’s of USAJOBS, the online venue that most folks use to search and apply for U.S. government jobs. Two things should be noted here. First, USAJOBS is only one of the ways that people search for government jobs (there is also Monster.com, etc.) and many have found success using them. Some sites, such as governmentjobs.com, allow you to search for jobs on the local (state and city) level, while others advertise federal-level positions, but will redirect you back to USAJOBS to apply.
The point is, depending on what type of job you are looking for, use any or all of them. The second thing to note is that, while I have tried to give as detailed a look as possible at the site and how to use its features to your advantage, there are many other features and tips that I have not been able to touch on, mostly because these things pertain to jobs that are outside of the realm of intelligence (or Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System – DCIPS) jobs, and those are what I recruit for. Now it is time to wrap this up with some do’s and don’ts and final words of wisdom (loosely used term since it is coming from me).
Do’s and Don’ts
Here we go. (Please note that these are in no particular order, and that none is more important than the other. Except telling the truth on your resume—that goes without saying, I hope.) First up:
- Be truthful on your resume and when answering application questionnaires. Not much needs to be said about this, but here is something to think about: You can BS your resume, and hit YES to every question on the application, but at some point you may find yourself in front of the hiring manager who has done the job and will ask you questions directly related to it. Then what?
- Update or upload your latest resume (and attachments such as your DD-214, etc.) into USAJOBS, and delete any older version. We can only qualify you based on the info that you provide at the time of applying. Note that if it is within the timeframe of the open/close dates and you have already applied, you are still able to submit updated info.
- Ensure that any and all documents that you upload are legible. On docs such as the DD-214, it is extremely important to make sure the recruiter can read the following: the last four of SSN, dates of service, type of separation and reason, and character of service (honorable, etc.). Also, submit as many DD-214s that cover your periods of service if you have broken time.
- Submit all vet preference information and documents.
- Submit all education documents. Ensure that, if applicable, any transcripts show graduation date and type of degree.
- When listing employment on a resume, at a minimum, include the following: job title, rank/grade (if military or federal), and, if known, approximate salary. This will help to determine eligibility.
- If you are a current or past federal employee (not active-duty military), be sure to submit your latest (or last/resignation) SF-50. If you do not have it, the recruiter will still be able to tentatively qualify you (provided that you meet all of the other prerequisites), but if hired, you will not be able to start the job until the 50 is received and verified.
- Ensure the format of your resume makes the recruiter’s job easier to find you qualified, to include: name/address are spelled correctly and, if married, that you also submit a marriage certificate showing name change. Also, ensure all work history/dates are in month/year format.
- Include every single aspect of your career. It sounds like I am going against everything else I have written, but what I mean is, unless the job announcement calls for it, things like correspondence courses (such as Marine Corps MCI) or letters of recommendation will not have any influence on finding you qualified, and most recruiters do not even glance at these things. Items such as certificates and thesis/dissertations should only be included if they are called for specifically in the announcement. I have had to wade through—no joke—almost 200 pages in an application package because someone decided to submit every college paper, publication, certificate, and whatever else. God laughed at my pain that day.
- Copy the specialized experience directly from the announcement into your resume. If you have the experience called for, tailor your resume to reflect that in your own words or as best you can. If a recruiter sees that you have copied/pasted, they will automatically find you disqualified.
- Include information not related to the position. This sounds like a “duh” moment, but you would be surprised at some of the things we have read, such as the guy who explained his being fired from a job because he got caught sleeping with his boss’s wife, or the person who explained that they were not promoted because “their boss is a jerk.” Just be sure to provide a lucid, sane explanation for any gaps in employment.
- Do not add any graphics or pictures. This includes a photo of yourself, because I have seen the “but first, let me take a while-I-am-driving selfie” photo included on their resume. Along those lines, if your email address is “drop-it-like-it’[email protected]” or “[email protected],” to each his own, but you might want to set up a more professional address to include on your resume (and yes, both of those are close to actual email addresses that have come across my desk).
- As much as possible, try not to go online and copy your previous or current job description from a website. I say as much as possible because you may want to use it as an outline, but tailor it to fit your resume. I have had to read six-page resumes for someone who had three jobs because they copied and pasted the entire page-long description from a website…then did not bother to proofread it. It was literally a one page-long run-on sentence.
If you have submitted your package and have concerns with the outcome or status, the applicant inquiry process is your venue to ask questions or dispute a decision. The address to the Employment Information Center (EIC) is found at the bottom of the announcement and is a telephone number and email address that you are able to use. If you send an email (which I recommend), be sure to include any supporting evidence that you might have that would rate a reconsideration of your application. If you are requesting a status of the application, you should be receiving notification emails at regular intervals (upon application receipt, if you have/have not been forwarded for consideration/interview, and if you have/have not been considered for hiring). Recruiters are swamped, so they may get behind on these updates. Definitely send an inquiry.
So there you have it. Hopefully this series has given you at least a better sense of how to navigate USAJOBS and submit the best application package possible to land that job. If you any questions, please feel free to send them my way and I will do my best to get you an answer, or you can view some commonly asked questions here. Happy hunting, warriors.