Federal Careers

I hear over and over again from people who need a job right now—or by the end of the month (and it’s already the 15th!) Unfortunately, this is a very unrealistic expectation—whether you are targeting federal employment or employment in the private sector. While it is certainly possible to get a job in 2 weeks, you should be prepared for the process to take much longer.

Let’s look at the federal and private sector separately, because there are definitely some differences.


Federal employment: The goal for federal agencies is to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees in 80 days. While this is the goal, it is not uncommon for it to take longer—especially if a high level security clearance is required.

Here is a sample timeline of the government process:

• Job posting: 5 – 14 days

• Application review by HR 10-14 days

• Interview process 30 days

• Offer and security 30 days to ?? (depending upon level of clearance this can take much longer)

The above is just a sample and assumes that the hiring manager is focused on getting people on board as quickly as possible and there are no glitches in the system. Each agency may have a slightly different approach and timeline.


Private sector employment: Getting a private sector job can be a quicker proposition but in larger companies getting an offer is not a quick as many jobseekers hope. Earlier this year, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data that seemed to indicate that if you’re unemployed, the job search took an average of 5 weeks for 36.4% of jobseekers, while 30.6% of jobseekers were unemployed for more than 15 weeks (with 18.8% unemployed for 27 or more weeks).

It is generally easier to get a job when you are employed but it still takes time as everyone’s job search is different.

Variables can include occupation, level, geographic location, and individual experience—just to name a few. And let’s not forget the current situation with Covid-19 and the disruption to regular work schedules.

So what does this mean for YOU? Always have your resume ready, and be prepared for your job search to take longer than anticipated so that you will pleasantly surprised if you are wrong!

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