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5 Insider Tips for Navigating USAJOBS

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Tips On How to Best Navigate USAJOBS

USAJOBS is the Federal Government’s official employment site. It has a reputation for being a tough nut to crack. For many, it is a common experience to receive an immediate ineligibility notification or watch a resume sit in the system for months with no progress.

It tends to be a complex system that is quite different from most other application submission processes.

Understand Eligibility

Eligibility is not the same as qualification in the world of USAJOBS. Each job posting is labeled with an icon that represents various eligibilities or hiring paths. This is one reason why a candidate who seems highly qualified for a position may be determined ineligible.

USAJOBS hiring paths include:

  • Veterans
  • Open to the public
  • Federal employees
  • Internal to an agency
  • Career transition
  • Family of overseas employees
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Military spouses
  • National Guard & Reserves
  • Native American and Alaskan Natives
  • Peace Corps & AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Senior Executives
  • Special Authorities
  • Students
  • Recent Graduates

It is important to review the hiring paths associated with each job announcement to determine whether or not you are eligible. It is equally important to understand that falling into a hiring path does not automatically mean that you are a preferred candidate.

In addition to these complexities, each job is assigned a hiring authority that may or may not be listed in the job announcement. This can affect the way that candidates are selected for the position.

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5 Insider Tips for Building a Federal Resume

 Charlene is an Army Community Service (ACS) Coordinator who manages the ACS Employment Readiness program at an OCONUS location. She supports military community members in navigating USAJOBS and building federal resumes on a daily basis.

She shares the following tips that she has absorbed over time through various resources including the US Office of Personnel Management, colleagues, and the Resume Place.

Follow the Instructions

There are some universal truths to resume writing – provide all of the necessary information, proof-read and eliminate any typos, and tailor each resume for the job posting. Not following instructions makes it difficult to review a resume and less likely that a resume will make the cut.

Ensuring eligibility increases the chances of being selected. The same is true for making a resume easy to read and providing all supporting documents.

Charlene recommends blocking out any Personal Identifying Information (PII) like social security numbers and date of birth. This is simply good practice to protect this private information and does not influence the candidate selection process.

Use Keywords

But don’t copy/paste. Charlene recommends reading the entire job posting and focus on pulling keywords from the responsibilities, questionnaire, and qualifications sections. For example, if one of the qualifications is customer service, highlight that you have experience in customer service. Paint a picture of how well you have performed customer service. Using numbers and statistics is a great way to demonstrate performance.

Manage Length

There is no magic number for federal resume length. Expect it to be longer than a traditional resume – like 5-8 pages. Charlene explains that the trend is to write mini narrative paragraphs that clearly explain what you have done and how well you have done it.

It is good practice to use present tense for current roles and past tense for past roles. Listing jobs from the last 10 years is recommended. It is appropriate to include jobs from longer than 10 years ago if they show that you are qualified for the position.

Fill the Last Page

The last page is a great place to include a professional summary. Filling the last page simply makes a resume look more complete. HR spends only about 10 seconds reviewing resumes! A resume that is easy to read, looks complete, and clearly matches the job posting will increase the chances of being selected.

Enter Hours Worked

Most job postings require a minimum of 1 year of specialized experience. Charlene shares that in USAJOBS, 1 year = 40 hours per week for 52 weeks. The system will not recognize that minimum qualifications are met if hours worked are not entered.

Keep in mind that volunteer experience can count as specialized experience. Enter hours worked for volunteer experience too.

Additional Resources for Navigating USAJOBS

ACS Programs are excellent resources for securing employment and navigating USAJOBS. Charlene adds that some ACS programs are available to anyone with base access, though some may be limited to active duty and Veterans. Each branch has its own version of ACS.

USAJOBS offers recurring, free, virtual webinars for building a Federal Resume. Resume Place also offers resources for federal resume writing and free webinars.





About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, and blogger. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.