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Federal Employment

Information About Federal Employment


There are several resources regarding federal resumes. The following links are from trusted sources and will provide you guidance for content, format, tips and more. Please contact a career advisor using Navigate, when you begin your federal job search, for any assistance you should need.

Federal Resume Guide

What should I incude in my federal resume?

Tips for Writing a Federal Resume

Tips for Writing a Federal Resume 2

Federal Resume Template



  • If hired for a federal job, you must at least go through a basic background check to make sure you’re reliable, trustworthy, and suitable for the job. The background check process starts after you accept a job offer.
  • The hiring agency will ask you for the necessary personal information to start the background investigation process. The amount of information you’ll need to give depends on the job.
  • Most federal jobs are assigned sensitivity and risk levels, based on their responsibilities and duties
  • A noncritical sensitive position has the potential to cause significant or serious damage to the national security.
  • A critical sensitive position has the potential to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.
  • A special sensitive position security has the potential to cause inestimable damage to the national security.



  • The SF-86, “Questionnaire for National Security Positions", is used for High-Risk Public Trust positions and for all three levels of security clearance.
  • Standard Form 86 (SF 86) is a U.S. government questionnaire that individuals complete in order for the government to collect information for "conducting background investigations, reinvestigations, and continuous evaluations of persons under consideration for, or retention of, national security positions."
  • The form is required to be completed by military personnel, government contractors, and government employees in order to receive a requisite security clearance. Information demanded in the form include any colleges or universities attended over the past three years, an account of the last ten years of the individual's employment, ties to foreign nationals and governments, overseas travel, a list of past residences, etc.



The coding systems used to classify federal jobs vary by agency, but the most common system is the General Schedule (GS). In nearly all cases, Federal employees must be U.S. citizens. Beyond that, qualifications vary.

GS-1 : No high school diploma

GS-2: (GS-3 for clerk-steno positions): High school diploma or equivalent

GS-3: High school graduation or 1 year of full-time study after high school

GS-4: Associate degree or 2 years of full-time study after high school

GS-5 or GS-7, depending on agency policy and applicant's academic credentials:

Bachelor's degree or 4 years of full-time study after high school

GS-7: Bachelor's degree plus 1 year of full-time graduate study

GS-9 (GS-11 for some research positions): Master's degree or 2 years of full-time graduate study

GS-9: Law degree (J.D. or LL.B.)

GS-11 (GS-12 for some research positions): Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate or advanced law degree (LL.M.)



The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the Federal Government. OPM provides human resources leadership and support to Federal agencies and helps the Federal workforce achieve their aspirations as they serve the American people.

USAJOBS connects job seekers with federal employment opportunities across the United States and around the world as the Federal Government’s official employment site. 

Federal agencies use USAJOBS to host job openings and match qualified applicants to those jobs. USAJOBS serves as the central place to find opportunities in hundreds of federal agencies and organizations.

The U.S. Federal Government relies on more than two million Americans and foreign nationals to work in the civil service. Citizens like you help the government fulfill its essential duties in service to the American people. You can find a way to serve at USAJOBS.



This is a quick summary of how the federal application process works when you use USAJOBS to apply for positions.

1. Create an account with

First, you need to create an account with

2. Create a USAJOBS profile

Once you have a account, you need to create a profile on USAJOBS to apply to any job. With a USAJOBS profile you can:

  • Apply to any job on USAJOBS.
  • Save jobs you’re interested in.
  • Save and automate job searches.
  • Upload and save resumes or create one using our resume builder.
  • Upload and save required documents.
  • Have a more personalized experience.

3. Search for jobs

Start your job search by typing in a keyword or location. Use our search filters to narrow your results by salary, work schedule, agency, and more.

You can search for jobs anytime, but it’s best to create and sign into your profile before doing a search. Why? Because we can use your profile information to improve your job search results. Learn how to search for jobs.

Save your search

You can save a search, which will save you time the next time you visit USAJOBS. When you save a search, we’ll automatically look for jobs that match what you’re looking for and email you, daily, weekly or monthly with those jobs. Learn how to save a search.

4. Review job announcement

If you find a job you’re interested in, read the entire announcement to make sure you’re eligible and you meet the qualifications. For each job there are specific qualifications –your application must show how you meet the required qualifications.

Read the This job is open to section to see if you’re eligible to apply.

Read the Clarification from the agency, or the Who may apply sections for further eligibility details (not all job announcements will include this information).

Read the Qualifications section to see if you meet the job’s qualifications. Understand the job announcement.

Contact the agency representative if you have questions. The contact information is listed below the How to apply section of the job announcement.

5. Prepare your application in USAJOBS

Read the How to Apply section of the job announcement before starting your application. Click Apply to start your application—we’ll walk you through a five-step process where you’ll attach a resume and any required documents.

During the application process you can review, edit, delete and update your information. We’ll automatically save your progress as you go, so you won’t lose any changes. Learn how to create an application.

6. Submit application to agency

When your application is ready in USAJOBS, we’ll send you to the agency application system where you can submit your application. Before you submit, you may need to complete other agency-required steps such as:

  • Providing more personal information.
  • Providing more documentation.
  • Answering eligibility questions.

Completing an occupational questionnaire – look for a preview of the questions under the Required documents section.

It may take you longer to apply to some jobs than others, because some agencies and jobs require more information than others.

After you submit your application, go back to the Application section of your USAJOBS account and make sure the hiring agency received your application. Your application status will say Received if the application went through.

You can always check the status of your application in your USAJOBS profile.

How long will it take to receive an updated status?

It may take a few hours, after you submit your application, for the agency to update your application status. You may also receive an email confirmation from the agency application system, but not all agencies send email confirmations.

7. Agency reviews application

The hiring agency will start reviewing applications once the job announcement closes. The hiring agency will review your application to make sure you’re eligible and meet the job qualifications, and will place applicants into quality categories:

  • Minimally qualified
  • Highest qualified

The hiring agency may update your application status to Reviewed, but not all agencies provide this status.

After the hiring agency reviews all applications, they will send the highest qualified applicants to the hiring official—these applicants will see a Referred status in their application status. All other applicants (not being considered) will see a Not Referred status.

8. Interview

The hiring official will review the “highest qualified” applications and select applicants to interview based on agency policy. The hiring agency will contact applicants directly to schedule interviews.

Hiring officials can interview applicants using a panel, video, phone, in-person

There may be more than one interview round. For example, an applicant may have a phone interview and then an in-person interview.

How long will it take to schedule an interview?

It may take some time to schedule interviews, depending on the number of people being interviewed.

9. Agency selects candidate

After the agency completes all of the interviews, they will select a candidate(s) and contact them to start the job offer process. For those not selected, the hiring agency will update their application status to Not Selected.

10. Job offer

The hiring agency will extend a tentative job offer. Once this offer is accepted the agency will start the background investigation. The agency may require additional security checks for jobs that need a higher-level clearance.

When is the job offer final?

The job offer is final when the agency successfully completes the background investigation and any additional security checks. The hiring agency will contact the candidate(s) directly to set up a start date.