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There are many other benefits in Federal Jobs in comparison to pay

published February 20, 2006

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While some federal positions may not pay salaries as high as those in the private sector, a long list of benefits can compensate. The federal health insurance plan gives employees more than 180 options, and employees become eligible for free Medicare on their 65th birthday. A generous holiday and vacation package, a three-part retirement plan, and family-friendly flexible work schedules are also available. Special programs for federal employees include student loan repayment by the government, interagency transfers, retention bonuses, and childcare. There is also a long list of education opportunities, including scholarships, apprenticeships, internships, and grants.

Facilitating job searches and applications, the federal government's main database for job listings is the website, which is updated daily. Currently, there are more than 19,000 jobs on USAJOBS, with hundreds of legal positions among them. Other government bodies at the local, county, and state levels can also post jobs. For those who do not have access to a computer, a 24-hour automated phone line is available.

Applying for a federal job is complex. The basic requirements to apply are set by the government, and most agencies add other conditions. All federal applications require the applicant's full name, address, and social security or Tax ID number. American citizenship is not always required. To simplify the application process, USAJOBS suggests a three-step process for job seekers to follow.

In the first step, applicants search the database for positions they are interested in. If they find relevant postings, they then use the online Resume Builder to create and upload their resumes. They can also access any additional forms needed to apply for individual jobs. In many cases, they can apply for jobs directly online.

The second step is to obtain Vacancy Announcements for selected jobs by downloading them. The announcement includes deadline dates for applications, specific duties of the position, written test requirements, educational requirements, job location, salary, and the application instructions.

The third step is to carefully follow the application instructions. Some agencies may require applicants to complete an Optional Application for Federal Employment (OF-612) in lieu of, or in addition to, submitting a resume. This form is available on USAJOBS. An extremely specific format is used in the OF-612, and applicants should follow the instructions outlined on the website.

Once applicants have downloaded the Vacancy Announcement, they will be sent a Job Summary. The Job Summary includes an overview of the position, the USAJOBS control number, the federal announcement number, salary range, application deadline, and contact information.

While resumes are often the preferred method of application, each agency has specific guidelines that must be followed before an applicant will be considered for a position.

Resumes for federal positions are typically much longer and more detailed than they are for the private sector, running an average of three to five pages.

In addition to a resume, it is recommended that federal job seekers include a testimonial of how past achievements best qualify them for the job, as well as specific reasons why they are the best person for the job. This testimonial—often called a Knowledge, Skills, Abilities (KSA) response—may also be solicited under the category "Technical Requirements." Examples of KSA testimonials are available on the website. Those applying for positions at executive levels must address additional conditions called Executive Core Requirements (ECR) by submitting Executive Qualification Statements (EQS) that present details of relevant experience, skills, and attributes.

Submitted resumes are ranked by the OPM according to the applicant's compatibility for the position applied for. It is up to an individual agency if it uses the OPM ranking or applies its own. Several agencies will screen applicants and place them in a pool from which they pull new employees when positions become available.