Considering working for the Federal Government?
Federal employees love their jobs because they feel they work on important issues and are making a real difference. With the upcoming retirement of one third of the federal workforce, new federal employees will have the opportunity to advance and move up quickly to higher job classifications. Among the legislative, judicial and executive branches of the federal government, the employment opportunities are vast. There are more than 120 federal departments and agencies in the federal government, with over 2 million civilian government positions, not including the U.S. Postal Service.
*The Federal Government is hiring across a wide range of career fields to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These positions are mission-critical and are the government's response to COVID-19. Please go here to view and apply for these positions.
Why Work in Government?
The US government is one of the country’s largest employers with over 2 million workers at the federal level, and thousands more at state and local levels. With positions in nearly every career field all majors and backgrounds are welcome. A career in government also provides great perks such as great job security, competitive pay, outstanding benefits, frequent opportunities for advancement, and student loan repayment programs. 85% of federal government jobs are located in Washington D.C, but there are still opportunities available all over the country working at state and local levels. Please visit https://gogovernment.org/ for more details about what working in government has to offer.
Assess Your Skills
Strong skills in problem solving, communication, leadership, respect, flexibility, reliability, integrity, and teamwork are crucial to being a successful employee in government. Students who believe they excel in these areas should feel highly encouraged to consider governmental employment.
Most governmental employers are seeking highly motivated and accomplished college graduates who exhibit strong skills in leadership, communication, organization, and teamwork. It is also important to research and develop the technical skills for the specific roles that you may want to pursue. It is important to assess some of your own skills and determine what jobs might fit you best, we recommend checking out Texas A&M’s self-assessment guides Sigi3 and FOCUS2.
Becoming the Ideal Candidate
Your government resume should be longer than a typical resume. Somewhere between 2-5 pages is considered appropriate for federal resumes and 1-3 for state/local. Normally, undergraduate students should keep their resume at 2 pages. It should go more in depth than a typical resume on your past accomplishments and it should provide an emphasis on your skills in leadership, organization, communication, and teamwork. Each bullet point should try to contain a key accomplishment or elaborate upon a time you went above and beyond. Federal employers also like to see data and numbers in your bullet points.
Additionally, it is extremely important to target your resume around the position you are applying for and use each job post as a guide. If a federal job post requires a certain skill it is very important to make sure it is listed in your resume.
The Texas A&M Career Center provides resume reviews every weekday and is a great resource to get an experienced resume reviewer to help perfect your resume. VMock is another great resource that provides an efficient automated resume review method. If you need additional input, please schedule an appointment with our Government Career Advisor for a more in depth review of your resume.
*The Career Center is working on a Federal Resume template and will have have one posted on this site by 1/30/2021.
A government cover letter is similar to any other cover letter. However, it is important to address any special clearances and any related work experience that you may have in great detail. Please visit the cover letter portion of our website for more information.
For more assistance on creating a cover letter that will make you stand out in the job applicant pool, we recommend coming to Career Center walk-in hours.
With an increase of interviews taking place in the virtual space it is important to remember to dress as if the interview was happening in-person. This will help ensure you get into the interview mindset and feel confident in your skills. Make sure to do your research on organization culture to determine your professional attire. It is standard in government, that interviewees should wear business professional. It's important to remember that it is better to overdress, than underdress for an interview.
Please visit here for more tips on dressing for success.
As you move through the application process and are notified that you were selected for an interview is a huge achievement, but does not guarantee that you will receive the position. There could be several rounds to the interview process and most agencies will initiate the process with an email notification. If you do receive a phone call for an interview make sure you document the recruiter's name, title, time and date of the interview, and any other information shared over the phone.
There are several ways an agency will evaluate your knowledge, skills and abilities in an interview. Below are some of the formats you will be asked to interview:
Pro-tips for during and after your interview:
- Traditional one-on-one interview (in-person)
- Panel interview
- *Multiple team members will sit in on the interview
- Phone interview
- *It is common for this to be used for a first round interivew
- Virtual Video Interview
- *Due to COVID-19 this is the most common interview style used right now by agencies, besides the phone interview
- *Some of these virtual interviews will also have a group of recruiters interview, similar to the panel interview
For more tips, please see our interview tips and feel free to schedule a government employment mock interview with us by going to tx.ag/ccapointment.
- Be throrough in your answers by providing enough context and detail so the interviews get the full depth of your responses.
- Prepare to sell yourself on your qualifications and how you will be a good fit for the agency and their mission.
- Follow up with your interviewer(s) with a thank you note and any other materials they may have asked you to provide. This should be done within 24 hours of your interview.
This is a classification system to let you know what jobs you do and do not qualify for, and the pay rate at these respecitve levels of classification. Agencies establish the grade of their positions based on the responsiblity, level of difficulty and required knowledge, skills, and abilities. The General Schedule (GS) has 15 grades with GS-1 being the lowest and GS-15 being the highest. View below for a detailed breakdown.
GS-1 to GS-2: High School Diploma or GED, with no experience required
GS-3 to GS-4: Usually internships or student jobs (Students currently pursuing their Bachelor's degree)
GS-5 to GS-7: Entry level positions (Recent graduates with a Bachelor's degree)
GS-8 to GS-9: Mid-level positions (Master’s level students)
GS-10 to GS-11: Mid-level positions (Doctoral level students)
GS-12: Mid-level positions
GS-13 to GS-15: Top-level supervisory positions
Positions beyond GS-15 are part of the Senior Executive Service
For more information on the general schedule please visit Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and GoGovernment.
Finding job opportunities in the federal government is very similar to the private sector by obtaining internships, applying to positions you find online, and networking with current professionals. However, searching and applying for these opportunities are more difficult than private sector jobs. Your job search process will become much smoother once you understand which resources to use (view the resources section) and when to start looking.
Below are a few resources to help you explore opportunities available with the federal government, identify agencies, find internships and full-time positions and help with creating a federal resume and filling out federal job applications.
- USA.gov: The government's official web portal with an A-Z agency index.
- USAjobs.gov: The United States Government's website for listing civil service job opportunities with federal agencies.
- https://www.house.gov/educators-and-students/college-internships: Great link for obtaining an internship working with a committee member in the House of Representatives.
- https://careers.state.gov/: You can find internship resources on full-time employmnet and internship programs with the U.S. Department of State.
- https://www.wrp.gov/wrp: The workforce recruitment program helps connect federal and private sector jobs to college students and recent graduates with disabilities.
- https://www.intelligencecareers.gov/: Full-time and internship opportunities for careers in intelligence.
- https://ballotpedia.org/Main_Page: Information about elections at every level of government including: contact information, candidate background, and issues on upcoming ballots.
- https://www.onetonline.org/: Great informational source for information on all types of occupations. This website provides information on necessary skills, work activities, average education levels, certifications, wage & employment trends, and so much more.
- https://www.bls.gov/: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a resource for job, employment, wage, and economic trends.
- https://www.aggienetwork.com/: Connect with Aggies working in Federal Employment, by utilizing the Find An Aggie tool.
The Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) - PPIP provides Aggies with the opportunity to work in various policy related programs across the country and internationally. This program is great for understanding the policy making process and applying all of your knowledge in a professional environment. This program operates in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, which gives students plenty of flexibility for finding a time to intern that works best for them.