With the continued uncertainty in the employment markets, federal government jobs are often the most coveted forms of work in the most challenging times. The best government jobs typically provide levels of safety, security, and insulation from the overall job market during periods of economic turmoil and rising unemployment. The benefits they offer often significantly outweigh jobs in the private sector. They include perks such as pensions and competitive loan rates for mortgages. Additionally, there is more paid time off, vacations, and holidays that comparable jobs in the private sector. Health care benefits for your family are also often very comprehensive and affordable.
So how does one go about getting one of these coveted government jobs, especially when you have little to no experience? What are the best tools available to help find available government jobs, and how can you craft the perfect resume to apply for them?
First Step: Lead With Your Best Skill Sets
You may have a general idea of the position that most appeals to you, especially if you have a solid understanding of your skill sets. A detailed analysis of your background and previous employments can help dictate if you are suited for a specific career. For example, working within the parks department might be an area you are leaning towards, but you may feel that you don’t have direct experience for a specific position. However, previous work history in the fields of landscaping, customer service, or management may directly translate into necessary skills to secure a position in a state or national park.
The abundance of office jobs that require data processing, analysis, and collection are perfect examples of areas that are in desperate need of being filled. The key is determining what would be the best strengths for an employee and how to highlight them on a federal resume. Even if you don’t feel your experience may not offer a direct transition to a specific position, many of these jobs offer paid training to get the proper candidates up to speed. If you are able to demonstrate proficiency with a computer, there is a position waiting for you!
Second Step: Use All Available Resources
You have analyzed your skills and are confident in your ability to approach a government job offering. The next question, is how do you find the job of your choice? There are no shortage of resources close by to help you land a government job. Most states have physical branches of the Department of Labor, where you can search in house the listings of all government jobs available. They also offer guidance and direct programs on how to find and land a government job.
The Workforce Investment Act created the American Job Center which provides a one stop source for a full range of job seeking assistance. Some of the services offered are:
- Classroom Training and Referral Programs
- Career Counseling
- Resume Building
- Job Postings
Another excellent resource is the Go Government page. This is all-encompassing website is updated frequently. It covers all experience levels, and is an ideal guide to walk you through the various opportunities available, and help navigate the application process. Detailed job specifics and required skills are provided, as well as research on the respective agencies. It’s like having a career counselor at your fingertips.
Community Colleges are also a great resource as they typically offer very cost effective classes that will help you enhance in demand skills especially in the computer software and coding areas. Completing any of the programs will give you a significant advantage when it comes to applying for a government job.
It is important to check in on all of the relevant government related work sites for updates, new positions posted, or to receive tips which could enhance your job searching process.
Third Step: Build That Resume
A federal government job requires a resume tailored to the application and has many specific requirements that aren’t part the resumes used in the private sector. Keywords, core competencies and character counts are often required. As are in depth details regarding former employers’ addresses, contact information, salary, dates of education, and other information.
Federal resumes are incredibly detailed, complex in format, and unlike traditional resumes can take up four to as many as ten pages. They expect detailed job history from up to six previous jobs. Detailed job descriptions, skills, experiences, keywords, core competencies, and accomplishments with a 5,000 character limit for each position. The key is building a proper resume to highlight your skills and match the required formats.
Here are three excellent resources to help you craft the perfect resume for a federal job:
Career Pro Plus
CareerProPlus offers several professional resume writing services to choose from, including federal, military transition, government contractor, and overseas government positions. They provide over 30 years of experience in the federal job space. Applicants are assigned a dedicated Certified Master Federal Resume Writer who will consult throughout the resume writing process
CareerProPlus developed a comprehensive Quality Management System with detailed processes as part of our best practices which includes a signature Headline Format style embraced by government Human Resources professionals.
They cater to all levels of job experience, and have trained federal resume writers who earn and update certifications in federal, military, and corporate resume writing and can package and promote skills to craft compelling resumes.
Federal jobs experts can offer customized services such as one-on-one coaching and collaboration during the challenging federal application and interview process.
There are no standard fees for services with CareerProPlus. Their prices can go well over $1000 for a complete resume package – but if you’re trying to get a job that pays well over $100,000, you may agree that the cost is worth it. Discounted programs for veterans are offered. Individuals are offered a free initial consultation and then after are given a quote for their services based on the level of assistance required and career objectives.
TopResume is a full service resume development and job coaching site that caters to public and private sector jobs. After an initial screening where a candidate fills out a questionnaire and highlights a few potential jobs, a general resume is crafted based on those responses. They offer three distinct level of resume services, at three reasonable price points.
- The basic level priced at $149 and gives you a keyword optimized, basic resume, by a generalist.
- The second tier priced at $199 includes a cover letter and a 60- day job interview guarantee.
- The third tier priced at $314 has a detailed resume written by one of the executive writers and includes a Linked In makeover for the applicant.
TopResume offers a fairly cost effective option for a federal job seeker, but they lack the specific focus and detailed attention that CareerProPlus offers when focusing on federal job specific resumes and career searches.
Federal prose brings a certified team of federal resume writers with over twenty years of experience to the job seeker’s aid. Unlike TopResume, all resumes are built from scratch after an initial consultation process and all supporting documentation has been forwarded and approved. Turnaround time is fairly quick for a detailed resume for a federal job, with drafts usually completed in 5 days. The client is then given the opportunity to review and suggest any edits or revisions, and often that will involve a phone or email consultation with the resume developer.
While the initial consultation is free, and they offer a free critique of existing resumes as well, the initial cost for a federal resume starts at roughly $399.99. More expensive then TopResume, but significantly more detailed and tailored for a federal position.
Which Federal Resume Service Makes the Most Sense?
For the most cost effective options, Top Resume is the clear choice. Unfortunately, the applicant is sacrificing the very necessary assistance and benefits of having a certified resume writer like Federal Prose and CareerProPlus offer. Without them, the resume may not meet the very stringent requirements that human resource professionals are looking for in application packages. Additionally, for the extra cost involved, you are often getting a consultant and job coach who can help you highlight specific skills and career achievements that will come in handy during the interview process.
Much like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. In the case of building a federal resume; having true professionals familiar with all the latest trends, key search words and hiring statistics, it makes sense to pay more for the services in advanced, rather than losing time and possible job opportunities by not being properly prepared.
Be Prepared, Patient, and Optimistic
There is no reason that a lack of specific work experience should hold you back from getting a federal job. The process can easily take six months to over a year depending on the specific position. Background checks, suitability questionnaires, physical exams all may be part of the hiring process. Having a perfectly tailored resume that meets the strict federal requirements is the key to the entire process. The end result- a stable career, excellent benefits for you and your family, and significant paid time off are well worth the effort required to secure a position.
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