Federal Employment and Resumes

There are thousands of Federal jobs in the Chicago metropolitan area split up between a fairly large number of agencies. I have learned from attending Government College Relation Council (GCRC) meetings that many of those jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree. The GCRC is a consortium of the human resources departments of government agencies and career service departments of various Chicago area colleges and universities.

Applying for Federal jobs is both an art and a science. The jobs are posted at www.usajobs.gov. But be advised, your private sector resume probably will not fly with most Federal agencies. The website www.usajobs.gov has a place where you can click on a landing page for assistance in putting together a Federal resume.

Federal resumes are a project. Frequently running well beyond five and six pages in length, they don’t look anything like resumes most people are familiar with. Another source for learning how to construct a Federal resume, step-by-step, can be found with The Federal Resume Guidebook by Kathryn Troutman, ISBN 978-1-59357-850-3. I met Kathryn’s mother who pioneered that guidebook at a National Career Development Association sponsored career conference in Madison, Wisconsin a number of years ago. She easily dispelled my notion that it wasn’t possible to develop an employer relationship with Federal agencies.

Once you have a Federal resume developed and ready to go, you should upload it at www.usajobs.gov. Ditto on various skills sheets they ask candidates to fill out. The art of applying comes in having all your information prepared, ready, and uploaded. Many Federal openings will open at noon on one day, and close at noon the next! Northwestern College sponsored an educational visit from the Regional Director of Human Resources of the Social Security Administration. One of the questions we asked her was why positions were posted and pulled so quickly. We complained that students wishing to apply for TSA openings couldn’t get organized quickly enough to apply. She informed us that was a deliberate policy to collect candidates who were ready. So, consider yourself warned and informed. If you want a Federal job, it’s best to upload everything long before the opening rolls up.

The Regional HR Director from Social Security also gave us another hot tip. Each employment listing has both a phone number and email address to contact if you have problems trying to apply. Of course, I assumed this was a cruel joke, and never phoned or emailed when we encountered difficulties. The HR Director assured us they actually worked, and when I assisted NC students and graduates in applying for openings, we miraculously found people eager to help us. If you leave a message, they get right back to you with good information! Who would have thought?

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