Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Getting a federal job

How hard is it? mrlollipop08/28/17
It's a bi-ch. I have had two interviews and applied for doze kramer71608/28/17
I've been applying for 18 years for now and still haven't go notreallyalawyer08/28/17
Humm...pension and 1 month leave... mrlollipop08/28/17
I flooded USA jobs with applications. A bunch of referrals o thirdtierlaw08/28/17
Are you in fed now? What kind of agency? mrlollipop08/28/17
I'm not. I ended up passing on the offer. Though the G7 woul thirdtierlaw08/28/17
FERS was a far better deal until Paul Ryan and Barack Obama flyer1408/28/17
Oh please. Other pension systems that were stable did simila downwardslope08/28/17
You fool!!! You reject a federal job! mrlollipop08/28/17
I know you're kidding, but just to explain the mindset of so thirdtierlaw08/28/17
Federal attorney job? Or federal legal-type job? The former mrtor08/28/17
federal legal type and non-legal type mrlollipop08/28/17
It is not impossible to get a federal legal job, but you nor downwardslope08/28/17
Are the odds better for jobs like yours if one applies outsi notreallyalawyer08/28/17
Typically the best shot is limited applications. Location do downwardslope08/28/17
It's far easier to get into Fed fields such as contracting o flyer1408/28/17
Yeah, but you have to use the FAR. Whenever I look at the FA perkinwarbeck08/28/17
I applied for some contracting job, was declined, said I was notreallyalawyer08/28/17
I'm not a veteran, and none of the dozen or so 2014 grads fr flyer1408/28/17
I'll definitely try again. I did apply for some that have re notreallyalawyer08/28/17
Keep in mind that *most* attorney and contract positions are downwardslope08/28/17
In my experience, the postings with really long open dates a flyer1408/28/17
I just checked out USAJOBs and did a search for contract spe notreallyalawyer08/28/17
It may depend on the locale you're in. In mine, the short-te flyer1408/28/17
Just make an agent and see if there are openings. I never ha downwardslope08/28/17
For the first time in years I made it to "referred". Edit jackofspeed08/28/17
I've gotten referred on jobs I'm dangerous unqualified (GS13 notreallyalawyer08/28/17
I know a complete idiot who got one. She's bipolar and mixes fettywap08/28/17
I've got the world's worst luck. The person who made a right notreallyalawyer08/28/17
The issue is probably knowing how to write your resume. If y downwardslope08/28/17
Is this so it hits on keywords? I'm guessing they don't want notreallyalawyer08/28/17
If it isn't a computer, it might be someone who doesn't get govlaw08/28/17
No. There is an OPM guide for every series. If you build you downwardslope08/28/17

mrlollipop (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:34 am)

How hard is it?

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kramer716 (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:41 am)

It's a bi-ch. I have had two interviews and applied for dozens of jobs since Sept. 2016. 0 offers. Actually, my second interview is tomorrow. Long story short, wouldn't bank on the federal job. If you can get anything else take it, but keep applying for the Feds

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:14 pm)

I've been applying for 18 years for now and still haven't gotten one. well I did once, a long time ago and declined it because it was a huge paycut. In hindsight, that was a BIG mistake on my part.

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mrlollipop (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:44 am)

Humm...pension and 1 month leave...

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:49 am)

I flooded USA jobs with applications. A bunch of referrals only 1 interview. I got offered the job at a G7 and passed on it. G9 positions have been advertised in the same office since then, have gotten referred but no interview.

So just keep applying, but don't get discouraged. That being said, when you look at the deduction for taxes and healthcare and that you only earn 1.1% a year if you make it to 62 vs. 1% if you retire before 62, the pension isn't awesome. Still better than no pension. But I think it is the job security and vacation time that is the greatest appeal of federal jobs.

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mrlollipop (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:51 am)

Are you in fed now? What kind of agency?

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 28, 2017 - 9:48 am)

I'm not. I ended up passing on the offer. Though the G7 would have only been for a year the G9 would have been a pretty big pay cut, so a G7 year followed by a year at G9 would have been untenable.

I wanted it to work though. So that is why I investigated the pension so closely. It's an okay pension but my State government positions offer a 1.7% per year. So it at least made me take pause.

I'm still applying to fed jobs though.

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flyer14 (Aug 28, 2017 - 10:46 am)

FERS was a far better deal until Paul Ryan and Barack Obama teamed up to screw the middle class... prior to 2014 all FERS employees contributed the princely sum of 0.8% of their salary towards their retirement.

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 11:59 am)

Oh please. Other pension systems that were stable did similar things much earlier to avoid becoming IL or other states/cities with billions or over a trillion in pension debt. With my old employer it was optional and took much longer to vest than it does with the Feds.

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mrlollipop (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:01 pm)

You fool!!! You reject a federal job!

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:54 pm)

I know you're kidding, but just to explain the mindset of someone who passed on what some seem to consider the high ligh around these parts, I wrote the following:

Yea... after last week, I'm kicking myself. But then I realize it'd have taken me 4 years to just get back to my base salary. Then I'd either need to change agencies or hope for a vacancy at a G13 level, then work for a year to jump to a G-14 and continue on the step grades for a few years to make what I'm making now. That's being really early in my career.

So when you do the math and my final pension would only be around $40k a year before taxes and deductions... I'll just say my wife and kids just like going to Disney world too much to make that trade.

Obviously check back in with me in a year or two when my firm has gone under and I'm unemployed, I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune.

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mrtor (Aug 28, 2017 - 9:07 am)

Federal attorney job? Or federal legal-type job? The former will generally be much harder to obtain than the latter, but the hiring process appears intensive for every federal position. I think it's fair to apply around to different federal jobs as a side hobby, but focusing on it as your future career path is somewhat misguided. Many (most) strike out without some sort of preferential hiring quality.

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mrlollipop (Aug 28, 2017 - 9:09 am)

federal legal type and non-legal type

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 10:00 am)

It is not impossible to get a federal legal job, but you normally have to apply WAY below your level. I started recently as an SSA AA, which is generally at the GS-11 level. Most people in my training class have at least 5 years experience. Some had 10+. Some are on the ALJ register already.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:16 pm)

Are the odds better for jobs like yours if one applies outside of the DC area? That's where i am so all the fed jobs I apply for are in DC. Wonder if my chances might increase if I look elsewhere.

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:22 pm)

Typically the best shot is limited applications. Location does not seem to be as relevant. I interviewed for a gs-11 in D.C. (Non-AA) but could not start for a while, a GS-13 in GA, and two SSA positions outside of D.C. One was a long time ago. The GS-13 got filled internally although I made it to reference checking. I think a vet wanted the position and I got bounced.

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flyer14 (Aug 28, 2017 - 10:17 am)

It's far easier to get into Fed fields such as contracting or program management than it is to get in as an attorney. In fact, I know lots of people, including yours truly, who left law to go into contracting. The idea of benefits, a pension, and being home by 4:30 all have a certain appeal that commode law lacks.

A GS-13 contracting officer gets paid the same as a GS-13 attorney. Just sayin'.

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perkinwarbeck (Aug 28, 2017 - 10:30 am)

Yeah, but you have to use the FAR. Whenever I look at the FAR, my brain shuts off in self defense.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:17 pm)

I applied for some contracting job, was declined, said I was qualified, but that they have to offer the job to qualified veterans. If you aren't a veteran you will run into an extra obstacle.

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flyer14 (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:34 pm)

I'm not a veteran, and none of the dozen or so 2014 grads from my T4 law school who work in federal contracting are veterans either. Don't give up the ship

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:12 pm)

I'll definitely try again. I did apply for some that have really long open dates on the USAjobs thing, some others said they aren't hiring currently because of the freeze, but are still taking applications in case.. Is there anything I should read about federal contracting so better my chances or make it seem like I know what I'm talking about should I get an interview?

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:16 pm)

Keep in mind that *most* attorney and contract positions are exempt from vet preference. However, some may have two certificates. The one I did not get had a hire off the vet cert, not the US citizen cert.

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flyer14 (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:21 pm)

In my experience, the postings with really long open dates are black holes. You'd have more luck with jobs that have a short posting time (3-14 days typically) as those resumes will be examined more closely by a hiring team.

For contracting, you could try joining NCMA, National Contract Manager's Association, which offers some certifications you can receive. Also they might be able to network you between the government and industry that deals directly with government (contractors will also have their private sector counterpart to the contracting officer).

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:29 pm)

I just checked out USAJOBs and did a search for contract specialist. Ran into a few problems. Some of the positions are GS-5/7, I don't think I could live on that. The GS9/11 ones that I looked at were not open to the general public, you have to be a current Federal employee, a vet or disabled to apply for a lot of those. I found a coast guard one I applied to, but the questionnaire asked a lot of questions about knowledge of things I have no idea about. It was for a GS/12/13 position. Think I ruined my chances by applying to that one, but I did..

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flyer14 (Aug 28, 2017 - 2:00 pm)

It may depend on the locale you're in. In mine, the short-term openings limited to current federal employees are almost exclusively 13+ positions such as supervisors or program managers. I took advantage of a 9 target 12 position that was open to the public.

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 4:23 pm)

Just make an agent and see if there are openings. I never had luck because I could only do gs-9 in my hometown and my current town since I have private student loans. I would also apply for other random stuff. Might as well. Just do an agent for all gs-9 and above in areas of interest. I applied to rulemaking but was not referred there...

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jackofspeed (Aug 28, 2017 - 4:39 pm)

For the first time in years I made it to "referred".

Edited to add: I have been trying to get any relevant Fed job GS 9 and above essentially since graduating law school (and while in law school) so that's more than 10 years.

PS there is an Administrative Law Judge list that's open and accepting applications too.


Vacancy Identification Number: 10027486
Position Title: Attorney-Adviser (Contract)
Series and Grade: 0905 14
Hiring Office: FL-APF-W4EGAA HQ, U S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Location: Fort Hamilton, New York and District of Columbia, District of Columbia

Your rating is:
Eligible for the following position or positions:

GS-0905-14
The following is your referral status for the position or positions to which you applied:

You have been referred to the hiring manager for position GS-0905-14 in Fort Hamilton, New York

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 5:06 pm)

I've gotten referred on jobs I'm dangerous unqualified (GS13) for, and get rejected for GS-11 jobs, or they say I can't prove I'm an attorney, even though I send a photo of my Bar ID.. Never gotten an interview out of USAJOBS before though.

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fettywap (Aug 28, 2017 - 4:49 pm)

I know a complete idiot who got one. She's bipolar and mixes her drugs with alcohol and has severe psychiatric problems. Has some contracting job. I guess it helps if you live near a military base. Some sort of contract review job. If she can get one, anyone can.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 5:07 pm)

I've got the world's worst luck. The person who made a right turn out of the left lane and nearly hit me today was going to a job, something that I lack..

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 5:54 pm)

The issue is probably knowing how to write your resume. If you are using a regular resume instead of the USAJOBS resume builder along with the OPM job series guide, you are less likely to get anywhere. Most people think they can just use a regular resume and wonder why they can't get an interview. You need to look at your job series of interest and then tailor your resume toward those skills, which is not at all like what you'd put in a regular resume.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 7:25 pm)

Is this so it hits on keywords? I'm guessing they don't want humans to look at things. It's funny I got referred from some military attorney job where the word "contract" was in the description of the job, and I listed "contract attorney" on my resume, listing clearly it was doc review. I got referred for that, something like GS-13 position, and I got rejected for stuff I was closer to being qualified for. Must have triggered a keyword.

Problem is even if I get an interview, I'll just screw it up. I have horrific anxiety.

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govlaw (Aug 28, 2017 - 7:47 pm)

If it isn't a computer, it might be someone who doesn't get paid very much to determine whether your resume matches up with the job description. You want to make it as easy as possible.

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:32 pm)

No. There is an OPM guide for every series. If you build your resume based on the guide, it should theoretically hit on the keywords. The guides are usually pages and pages of information.

Here is the attorney one-

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/classifying-general-schedule-positions/standards/0900/gs0905.pdf

They have humans looking at the resumes. The HR specialist just looks at it to make sure you meet the basic qualifications and should then be referring it to a hiring manager or subject area expert. With a federal resume, they want to know stuff like who you talk to in your current job, etc.

GS-13 jobs are likely just to be referral if you have the requisite years of experience as an attorney half the time, so if you have the 2-3 years as an attorney, you will get referred if they don't have specific experience. I have been referred for GS-15 positions before if they just have generic years of experience requirements and rejected for GS-12 because the requirements were super specific.

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