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How to Apply
The Federal application process differs from agency to agency. Here are the general steps for applying for most Federal positions.
1. Ensure You Meet Basic Key Requirements
In order to work in the Federal government, and as an acquisition professional at certain levels, you must meet a few basic requirements. It is good to research these requirements to make sure you meet the basics before moving forward with applying. The basics for qualifying for a Federal job in the contracting field are:
- U.S. Citizenship or National status
- Registered for Selective Service, if applicable
- Degree or at least 24 semester hours in any major field of study (Department of Defense jobs require BOTH degree and 24 semester hours)
2. Find Contracting Jobs That Interest You
Head to the Entry Level Positions or Experienced Positions links. Most Government agencies post job openings on the USAJOBS® website. You may also want to visit the website of particular agencies with which you would like to work.
3. Apply for Jobs
The application process differs from position to position, so it is important for you to carefully read each announcement to see what is required. Typically, the application process includes at least three steps:
Each of these steps is explained in detail in our Resources section.
The Federal hiring process can take weeks or months to complete. Do not be discouraged if you do not hear from an agency after completing the application process. Each job announcement should include contact information. Keep track of the positions you have applied for, and follow-up with the agency if you haven't heard from them after a few weeks. We also recommend sending a thank you note to the agency if you were interviewed for a position or met their personnel at a job fair or other function.
5. Accept Position and Complete a Background Investigation
If you have been accepted for a position, you will be contacted by the agency to complete a preliminary background investigation before beginning work. You will have to complete a more extensive background investigation once you have started working. Some agencies require you to complete the entire background investigation process before you can begin. Be sure to ask the agency about their specific background investigation process. Read more...
For more information about the Federal hiring process, click here.
Writing a Resume
In general, your resume can be in any format. However, some positions require you to fill out a specific resume template. Be sure to read the vacancy announcement to see if there are any special instructions for completing your resume.
Federal resumes typically ask for more information than private sector resumes. It is common for Federal resumes to be much longer than one page. The key is to include all the information requested in the vacancy announcement. If you would like to use a template for creating your Federal resume, click here. The USAJOBS website also provides helpful tips for creating your resume and a way for you to create and save your resume online. Read more...
Here are the elements commonly included in a Federal resume.
Information about the job you are applying for (announcement number, title and grade(s) of the job)
- Your personal information (full name; mailing address; phone numbers; email address; Social Security Number; country of citizenship; veterans' preference; selective service registration; and if you are a current or former Federal employee: reinstatement eligibility and highest civilian grade held)
- Work experience (including job title; duties and accomplishments; employer's name and address; supervisor's name and telephone number; starting and ending dates; hours per week; and salary)
- Education (include high school: name, city, state and date of diploma; colleges or universities: name, city, state, major(s), type and year of degree(s) received)
In addition to submitting your resume, you will likely be asked to answer additional questions about your education and experience. Federal agencies gather this information in a variety of ways. Here are some of the typical methods agencies use:
1. Occupational Questionnaire
2. Written Responses to Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) Questions
Be sure to read the vacancy announcement carefully to see which method, or methods, will be used for the position for which you are applying. If you do not complete all steps, even if you submit your resume, you may not be considered for the job.
In addition to submitting a resume and answering questions about your education and experience, you may be required to submit additional information for the position. Be sure to read the vacancy announcement carefully to see what additional materials are required. Here are materials commonly requested by agencies:
- Copies of your college transcripts.
- Veterans' preference information. Read more...
- Information about prior Federal employment (if applicable).
- Copies of licenses or certificates.
To see templates for commonly requested forms, click here.