Federal Careers

For most of us, getting a new job takes work. While some of us find that jobs just “fall in our laps,” that is not true for the vast majority of people. And if you are one of the lucky ones, it is likely that you have used these tips—even if unknowingly!

Here are 8 things you can do right now:

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Develop a job search plan. Where do you want to work? What do you want to do? What skills do you bring to the table? Make a specific list of your criteria and ideal employers; set written goals with timeframes to hold yourself accountable. And, if you’re really brave, give your written plan to a trusted friend or loved one so that they can hold you accountable too.

Update your resume. If you are seeking a federal job, make sure you are using a federal-style resume (typically 4-6 pages with lots of detail); if you are looking for a private sector position, your resume should not exceed 2 pages. Regardless, your resume should be current, clearly focused on your last 10 or so years, include metrics to give your work context, and accomplishments to demonstrate that you can (and have) achieved results.

Check your social media. Whether you use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or other online social media, your presence should be professional. Make sure that your pictures are appropriate, and your job titles and dates match the dates on your resume. Many private sector employers use LinkedIn for “sourcing” (identifying potential candidates) and almost all will “check you out” before calling for an interview. While LinkedIn is not as universally used in the federal government, there are people in every agency who use LinkedIn—it’s better to be prepared!

Research jobs and organizations. There is no such thing as a generic resume anymore; all resumes, whether for the federal government or the private sector, need to be targeted toward specific postings (or kinds of positions). Identify sample jobs (regardless of geographic location) that interest you. Identify qualifications and key words in those postings and write those words down. Learn about the organizations that have jobs which interest you; read their website; look for people who work there you might know.

Update your references and contacts. Reach out to people who can serve as references, as well as those who might be able to assist you in your search. Bring them up-to-date on your experience and interests. Ask them if they would be willing to serve as a reference and/or share potential opportunities with you. Share your resume and solicit feedback on it, as well as your job search strategy.

Update your resume (yes, again). Make sure your resume contains the words you identified from your research and highlights your relevant achievements. Incorporate any feedback received.

Practice your interviewing skills. Learn about CCAR (or STAR) as a model for responding to interview questions. Start to identify your stories. Find a friend to practice online interviewing.

Have patience. With COVID-19, significant economic challenges for many organizations, and an overarching air of uncertainty, the job search may take longer than you hope.

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