Find Your Federal Job Fit

About the Public Sector

Find Your Federal Job Fit


The road to a federal job is sometimes rocky, never smooth, but navigable if you can follow their instructions.  Some folks apply without really knowing what they are doing and give up in a pique of frustration.  Below are steps to help you stay focused and, if you are willing to follow them, can lead to federal job search success.


Federal occupations have four-digit codes, called the series.  The OVERVIEW Section of the vacancy announcement has an element that reads “Series and Grade.”  It provides a two-letter code followed by the series, then the pay grade.  Researching the series for your profession, and using it to complete your search provides a comprehensive list of openings.


Taking the time to analyze the federal vacancy announcement will help you to avoid unintentionally applying for jobs for which you will not be considered.  Since it takes 12+ hours to complete each federal application, you want insure that you meet basic requirements before you start writing.

A 3-APPLY model for analyzing a vacancy announcement will help:

  1. Are you eligible to APPLY?
  2. Are you qualified to APPLY?
  3. Are you able to follow the How to APPLY instructions?


Review the Area of Consideration/Who May Apply line in the OVERVIEW section to determine if you are eligible to apply.  If you do not meet these requirements, your application is discarded.  Rule of thumb: if you understand their wording, you are probably eligible; if it says U.S. Citizen or The Public, you are.  If it says status candidate, CTAP, VEOA, etc., and you don’t know what it means, in you are probably not eligible to apply.


At this point in your analysis, skip the DUTIES section, unless the QUALIFICATIONS section refers back to it.  In federal hiring, if you are applying based on experience, you need at least 80% of the specialized experience reflected in this section.

Fifty-two weeks of experience at the next lower grade-level is required for every job, yet there is no easy way to research what that means.  Your current level of responsibility should help you to determine its federal equivalent: General Schedule (GS) 9-11 = lower-level management; GS 12-13 = mid-level management; and GS 14-15 = top-level managers.

There are three basic ways to qualify for a federal job: 1) education, OR 2) experience, OR 3) a combination of the two.  The QUALIFICATIONS section often contains federal jargon, so following these guidelines will help to analyze it effectively.

The occupational questionnaire contains competencies that absolutely MUST be addressed in your résumé.  Rate yourself as high as possible, and make sure your résumé includes the appropriate justification.  Your résumé should be a stand-alone document where your experience is clearly documented.


You absolutely must follow the HOW TO APPLY instructions exactly as they are written.  Do not read into them, do not interpret them, just follow them.  Federal hiring managers want employees who can follow their instructions, even if they are difficult to understand.


Using the USAJOBS résumé builder is advised because it contains the required information for federal Human Resources staff to complete their paperwork.  Without completed paperwork, your application will not be reviewed.  Without a review, it cannot be referred to the hiring manager for selection.


It is your job to earn 100 rating points for each application package, more if you have Veteran’s preference.  The ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section can hold 20,000 characters, so take full advantage of this space.  A federal résumé can be as long as 5-6 pages so don’t be concerned about the amount of targeted information you include.

Following these directions will result in an application package that gets you noticed.  Knowing what you need to do and how to do it can remove your apprehension and keep you on track to a federal job!!

34 thoughts on “Find Your Federal Job Fit

  1. If you want a federal government position, follow this sage advice. I would add one more thing – be sure to proof your application and resume before you submit it. Or better yet, improve your your application based on feedback from a trusted friend – or advisor such as Karol. Excellent article.

  2. I found Karol’s article to be concise, informative and most of all, a great resource for federal job applicants and federal employees.

  3. Karol Taylor’s article is great. I didn’t have this advice or knowledge when I applied for my first Federal job and it actually took me longer than the estimated 12 hour to apply for my current Federal job. She also mentions at the end of the article your goal to score 100%. I had no idea how the scoring system or how the scoring system worked when I first applied. This is very important! More is more in the Federal government and you need share more, do more and be more. If anyone is thinking about applying for a Federal position, I highly recommend Karol’s book, Find Your Federal Job Fit!

  4. A lifelong federal employee herself, Karol offers outstanding advice from her first-hand experience in the federal workforce.

  5. Karol is so generous with sharing information about federal employment. She is passionate about helping people find their fit in the federal government, while also providing very useful information, as only an insider like Karol can do. I continue to learn from her spirit and her knowledge.

  6. Great article with lots of helpful information! Thanks for sharing and keep the resourceful information coming!

  7. Karl continues to be an incredible resource in assisting others in finding federal jobs. Thank you for such informative information. Always a go too for Federal Job information.

  8. I’ve had the honor of knowing Karol Taylor for several years and consider her the go-to person for Federal Job Search expertise. I have always been impressed by the depth of her knowledge and her ability to communicate it in a way that is understandable and implementable.
    “The road to a federal job is sometimes rocky, never smooth” is very true – but Karol Taylor’s wisdom makes one believe that it can be more easily navigated because of her guidance.

    • Karol: Good article and I agree with you regarding the very first steps. Are you qualified; are you eligible? These two very important factors should be your first discovery before applying. It is true that there are many variables to consider when applying for a federal job, but if you follow the experts such as Karol, she will provide many helpful facts that will help guide your through the process.

  9. Karol offers a wealth of information on the often daunting federal job application process. She gives the inside scoop on exactly what the hiring managers are looking for, and how to approach your application step by step.

  10. Karol makes GREAT suggestions re: federal employment. I had a 27 year career in the government and it helps to have someone who knows how to naviagate the system. Check out her book “Find Your Federal Job Fit” book!!

  11. Thanks for sharing, Karol. This is great information. I will definitely share this with federal job seekers, especially those who are recent graduates.

  12. Karol is on the mark again with how to know best to apply to FED job openings. These applications require you to follow instructions well. Her information allows you to know how to prepare yourself for the ALL the steps and stages. Don’t get enough here check out her book on applying for FED jobs. Excellent resource.

  13. Great summary of a process most job seekers know nothing about. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to post a link for our alumni in the “La Salle University Alumni Network” LinkedIn group.

  14. Karol has been a colleague of mine for years and she continues to offer outstanding advice for individuals not familiar with the federal government hiring system. This article is succinct and covers one of the essential skills needed to successfully apply for federal government job vacancies.

  15. Thanks Karol for taking the time and effort to share a valuable “nuts & bolts” article on the ABC’s of Find Your Fedearl Job Fit! As our economy has started to shift to the positive, people need this important information you have provided. As a friend and colleague, I thank you and appreciate your excellence.
    Warm Regards, Ed Colozzi

  16. For the job seeker who has not previously ventured onto the USAJobs website, it can be a very overwhelming experience. Karol’s expert step-by-step approach and descriptions of the process are spot-on. She has knowledgeably taken the complex and provided the information in an easy to digest and understand format.

  17. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. This is the most succinct and practical advice I’ve ever seen on applying for a federal position. Keep up the great work!

  18. It takes an expert to explain something so complicated in such simple and clear terms.
    I will share this article with all my job seekers !
    Pertinent information regarding the Federal Jobs acquisition process.

  19. Great information! Federal job seekers will definitely benefit from your expert tips and insights. Thanks for sharing!

  20. This is a great article from an outstanding individual. I found it to be, very informative. Karol continues to provide accurate knowledge to others and is an incredible resource in assisting individuals in their search for federal employment.

  21. Karol was an instructor for a CDF course that I tool two years ago and was an excellent teacher. In this article, she continues to provide sage advice. As a contractor, I can attest to the importance of taking the time to review the application process and following instructions to put yourself in the best position for employment. Great information, Karol! This will really help job seekers.

  22. As a federal employee for over 30 years I’ve had to use this process a few times, and it is indeed daunting. Karol provided a great description of how to navigate this process. The federal government needs good workers, so please use the information Karol provided to get your name into consideration.

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