The Book of U.S. Government Jobs

1. Your book is now a standard reference, unusual enough in the employment market, but definitely unusual in a specialist sector market. We have a lot of US members who might be interested in this book, which is now in its tenth edition. How has the book become so successful, and who are your US reader demographics?

This book is written from an insider's perspective. I was a federal manager, responsible for recruiting for a large federal agency, and understand what it takes to go from job hunter to hired in the federal sector. The author and editors have over 110 years of combined federal government service. Considering that federal employees earn an average annual compensation of ,871, including pay and benefits compared to just ,288 in the private sector, the federal sector is an attractive option for job seekers.

All ages, from high school students seeking part time work and recent graduates, retired military, to seniors and everyone in between have used this book to successfully find high paying government jobs. Student jobs often lead to full time employment, college graduates may qualify for student loan payback of up to ,000 a year for a total of ,000. Workers in mid career are often looking for stability and better pay and those in their 50s and older are attracted by the benefits. If they work for just 5 years they can carry their health insurance for both the employee and spouse into retirement for LIFE! The federal sector is the largest employer in the country, hiring just under 2% of the total civilian workforce. All this together attracts a large following for this book. Who else today offers high pay, exceptional benefits, job stability, and inflation adjusted retirement annuities.

2. We have members all over the world, too, and US Federal agencies do employ foreign nationals sometimes. What advice would you give to these members about how to enquire about jobs, and what information the agencies will want?

Over 88,000 work for the federal government in 140 foreign countries. Opportunities exist for foreign nationals in host countries and those jobs are advertised locally at overseas military installations and State Department facilities for the most part. Chapter 8 of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs provides a directory of overseas hiring agencies with contact information for anyone looking for overseas work. You will also find information on working conditions, security clearances, foreign language requirements, dependents, pay and benefits. All 15 federal Departments offer overseas employment opportunities. The largest employer is the Department of Defense with 48,151 followed by the State Department with 20,172 workers.

Many attractive career options exist including teaching jobs with The Department of Defense Dependent School System (DODDS) in 14 foreign countries. This system includes 157 elementary, middle, and secondary schools for overseas military and civilian personnel dependents with a staff consists of over 6,500 employees. Housing and living conditions vary considerably depending on your location.

Applicants must submit a compressive federal style resume along with other required forms and an entrance test is required for some occupations. Comprehensive application packages can be requested online and by phone from many agencies. Visit http://federaljobs.net/applyfor.htm for a list of the federal style resume's required information. If you leave out critical information you will lose points and may not be rated eligible for the position.

3. Your website, Federal Jobs Net, http://federaljobs.net, covers everything from entry exams to new services for Federal Resume Writing and a Clearance Jobs Career Center matching people with security clearances to employers. You're obviously dealing with both a common thread in Federal employment, and specialist services.

Our Web site receives over 9 million hits per month and was designed to complement The Book of U.S. Government Jobs. It is a clearinghouse for federal employment information. The web site mirrors the book chapters and offers informative book excerpts adding complimenting information to get site visitors on track fast. We even added a comprehensive Job Hunter's Checklist and provide links to 142 federal personnel offices and recruiters. My goal has always been to provide a one-stop federal employment resource center that all can use to find exactly what they need to be successful in their pursuits. We reviewed many services before selecting what we consider to the best services available including a Professional Resume Writing Service, Security Clearance Jobs Search Center , Federal Employee Resource Center, Career Development Plans, and even a FREE federal employees Retirement Planning Guide http://federaljobs.net/retire.

4. Your Employment page also includes a long list of contact numbers for job hotlines. Can people use these hotlines for basic information, like advisory services for getting Federal jobs?

These hotlines are good for career exploration and to research agencies in your area. The numbers are also for those having difficulty getting the information they need for a specific job announcement. The first step is to find a job to apply for. You can go online to find job vacancies or call the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) employment hotline at 1-703-724-1850 to locate about 60% of all jobs. However, the phone system is slow in comparison to online searches and it is cumbersome to use. A search of just one of the sites we list on http://federaljobs.net/federal.htm will result in over 45,000 job vacancies. The Job Announcement provides all of the information you need to apply for that position. It lists qualifying work experience, education, duties, specialized experience, contact information, and lists exactly what you must submit to apply.

5. The difference between public sector and private sector employment is a longstanding debate. They're not the same thing, but they seem to be judged by the same criteria. What are the advantages of a Federal job?

Each year you hear federal employee unions and congress talk about the how federal employees are underpaid compared to those in the private sector. The debate continues. However, at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting earlier this year, John McCain stated that for the first time federal workers were making more than their counterparts in the private sector. I believe that today pay incompatibility is a myth when you compare apples to apples, pay to total benefits received. Sure, many science and technology jobs do offer higher initial pay but few if any offer the security and benefits that Uncle Sam provides. According to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, federal employees earn an average annual compensation of ,871, including pay and benefits compared to just ,288 in the private sector. Their average annual salary exceeds ,000 and each year, in good and bad times, they receive a substantial raise that averages about 3.5% a year then add on automatic step increases and other incentives.

When you consider the generous benefits of 10 paid holidays, health insurance, low cost life insurance, cost of living adjusted federal retirement annuities, THRIFT 401 K plans with 5% government match, up to 5 weeks vacation, student loan payoff incentives of up to ,000, generous relocation allowances when you transfer, cash awards, time off awards, 108 hours sick leave a year that accrues throughout your career, 6 weeks advance sick leave for emergencies, donated leave, blood donor leave, and over 60% of the federal employees are unionized compared to just 13% in the private sector.

I hired many from high paying private sector jobs that thanked their lucky stars they landed a federal job. They enjoyed the stability, travel and relocation opportunities, and rain or shine an annual raise. Unlike the private sector where your raises and career path rises and falls with the business cycle. It's not all roses but there are definite benefits to peace of mind and knowing what's ahead for the most part. In many respects federal jobs are recession proof as well.

6. You spent 35 years in the Federal employment, retiring in 2005. How do you view the negative sentiment often pointed at Federal jobs?

The negative sentiments you refer to are generalizations typically based on casual observations and stereotypes. It's true that Federal jobs are generally more secure than private sector jobs and it is difficult to fire anyone without significant documentation for poor performance, fraud, or misuse of government property. There is a broad spectrum of work ethics in any organization including government. You will find government workers that just want to get by and those who strive to excel in all they do. The majority of the FAA workers that I was associated with were highly dedicated, educated, committed to the safety of the flying public, and hard working. They had to go through complex and lengthily recurrent training throughout their careers, worked rotating shifts and were on call back for emergencies and responded professionally. I would trust my life to those I worked with and served for many years.

7. Entry level jobs in any industry are often important career primers. What should someone looking for their first job know about Federal jobs, and how do they find out?

Entry level job applicants must be aware of the significant differences in the federal hiring process. A federal style resume is nothing like the private sector one page format. You have to include over 40 blocks of specific information, detailed work histories, educational backgrounds, and they are typically between 3 to 5 pages in length for entry level positions. Many simply go to OPM's jobs site at www.usajobs.gov and fill out an online resume to apply for jobs they found on the site. This can be a mistake. First, only about 65% of all federal jobs are advertised on this site, you need to go to http://federaljobs.net/federal.htm for links to 141 federal personnel recruiting offices to identify all available jobs.

Secondly, it's best to write you federal resume off line and it must be tailored to the job announcement to successfully land the job. I suggest highlighting or underline the key words and phrases listed under Duties and Specialized Experience on the job announcement. Then, if you performed those duties and have the specialized experience use those same EXACT words and phrases in your work history write-ups. After spell checking your resume and making sure it has all required information, copy and paste your resume into the online resume builders that are available.

Your application will be rated on the quality of your work history and/or education, and other qualifications If you have little work experience, include special projects you worked on in college and participation in student associations, part time work, and volunteer work with a local charity or campus fund raiser. Also include under 'Other Qualifications' special accomplishments, awards, language skills, certifications, licenses, leadership activities, honor societies, and membership in things like Toastmasters International. Add anything that you participated in that show cases YOU. Everything counts and can potentially take you to the top of the list. Chapter Six in The Book of U.S. Government Jobs shows you how to evaluate job announcements and tailor your federal style resume to it.

8. A quote from your website introduction: '50 percent of the federal workforce is currently eligible for either early or regular retirement. This is creating significant employment opportunities for anyone interested in working for Uncle Sam. Over 1.3 million jobs will need to be filled as the baby boomers opt to leave government service.' Many of our members are older US citizens, some have solid qualifications and work experience, and age isn't a legal barrier. This could be a good opportunity for them. Is it too late for the 50+ age group to start a Federal career?

No. It's never too late especially for federal employment at any age within reason. The only age limits are for a few positions such as air traffic controllers, investigators, and a few specialized occupations where the age limit for entering the occupation is 37. There are many who apply in the 50+ group to gain benefits and security. One of the most beneficial aspects of working for Uncle Sam is that if you work for a minimum of 5 years you can take your health insurance coverage for you and your spouse into retirement for life. This is a great deal when you consider the high cost of health insurance today.

I was at the front end of the baby boomer exodus in 2005 when I retired with 35 years service at age 55. This and next year are projected to be the best years to find jobs due to the large number eligible to leave. By 2012 over 50% will have retired and government is struggle to recruit the large numbers needed to fill the void.

9. Federal resumes are now standardized on the Knowledge Skills and Abilities format, (KSA) which might take a bit of learning for those not familiar. What's the best way for applicants to approach KSA resumes, and how can they learn to use them properly?

Only about 20% of all jobs require additional KSA write-ups. KSAs are used to identify the best qualified candidate often for higher level positions. They can be difficult to draft initially until you understand the process. Chapter 6 of my book outlines the process, guides readers through the composition, and provides detailed samples. There are typically between 3 to 7 KSAs and each must be a half to a full page in length. This is where you want to use the highlighted terms and phrases from the job announcement that I mentioned earlier to rate higher for the position. The process takes time and the ones who understand and devote the time to the process will be the winners. I rated thousands of applications for the FAA during my career and over 75% did not have sufficient detailed work histories and/or KSAs to be rated eligible for the position. I believe that the majority of the rejected applicants had the required experience. They just didn't present it in their application.

10. Are there policies in force regarding Federal jobs for people like retirees trying to get back into the workforce?

Retirees from the private sector can apply for federal jobs without limitation except for a reduction in Social Security benefits if they are collecting and under 65. The reduction is based on earnings. If you are a federal retiree you can go back to work for the federal government as a rehired annuitant. In most cases, your salary will be reduced by the amount of your federal annuity. I also have a retirement planning site that features jobs for retired personnel that your readers may find helpful.