Ten Steps for Landing a Federal Job

Federal employment offers the chance for you to enjoy a rewarding career while also providing many benefits for you and your family. However, the federal job search can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it. It’s important to understand the application process works for federal positions so you can increase your chances of success. Continue below for 10 steps to follow when applying for federal jobs. 

Step 1: Create an Account 

First and foremost, you must create an account on login.gov to begin the process of applying for positions.  

Step 2: Create a Profile 

Create a profile on USAJOBS. This will allow you to apply to any position listed on the website. You can save the jobs you’re interested in, save and automate your searches, upload and save resumes or use the resume builder, and upload and save documents.  

Step 3: Search for Jobs 

You can begin your search by using a keyword or location. If you utilize the search filters, you can narrow the results by salary, work schedule, agency, and more—saving you time and effort. Before you begin, take some time to learn how to search effectively. A way to save time when searching is to save your searches because this will allow USAJOBS to automatically email you daily, weekly, or monthly jobs.  

Step 4: Review and Understand the Job Announcement 

This step may seem like common sense, but it is one of the most important steps in the process. When a job announcement piques your interest, read the announcement in its entirety to make sure you’re eligible and meet the qualifications. Be sure to read the “This Job Is Open To” and the “Who May Apply” sections, and make sure you understand the job announcement

Step 5: Prepare Your Application in USAJOBS 

Begin by reading the how to apply section of the announcement, and then click apply to start your application. This will be a five-step process that will include uploading your resume and any required documents.  

 Step 6: Submit the Application 

When your application is complete in USAJOBS, you will be sent to the agency application system where you’ll submit it. Once you get there, you may have additional required steps to do, which can include providing additional personal information and documentation, answering eligibility questions, and completing an occupational questionnaire. A useful tip: look for a preview of the questions under the “Required Documents section.  

Step 7: Hiring Agency then Reviews the Application 

Once the job announcement closes, the hiring agency will begin reviewing applications to determine if any are eligible and meet the position qualifications. They will then place applicants into two categories: minimally qualified and highest qualified. The hiring agency may update your application status to “Reviewed, but this is not done by every agency.  

Step 8: Interview 

The hiring official will review the highest qualified applications, and then select applicants to interview based on the agency policy. They will then contact the applicants directly to schedule interviews.  

Step 9: Candidate Selected 

Once all the interviews have been conducted, the selected candidate will be contacted to begin the job offer process. For candidates not selected, the hiring agency will update their application status to “Not Selected 

Step 10: Tentative Job Offer Extended 

Once the candidate accepts the job offer, the agency will begin the extensive background investigation. 

The federal job application process can be lengthy, but by following these ten steps it can be easier to navigate. For more information about the federal hiring process, and other related topics, please refer to the FAQ section on USAJOBS.gov

As always, keep in mind that UMGC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Click here to set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist.  

Rhoda Smackum is a manager in the Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.