USAJOBS: THE FEDERAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES:
This article is part of the ScaleUP USA Federal Business Accelerator.
TABLE OF CONTENT:
SECTION 1: FEDERAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
SECTION 2: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
SECTION 3: FEDPRENEURSHIP AND FEDERAL CONTRACTING
SECTION 4: SECURITY LEVELS FOR FEDERAL CAREERS
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION TO FEDERAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
The world of US federal careers is filled with endless opportunities for those seeking to make a difference in their communities and beyond. From protecting our nation's security to advancing scientific research and development, a career in the federal government offers a chance to serve the public and make a lasting impact on the world. Whether you are looking to jumpstart your career or make a mid-career switch, the US federal government offers a diverse array of positions in fields such as law enforcement, healthcare, technology, and education. When you are looking for career opportunities within the federal government, there are three specific organization types you can investigate.
Federal Government Employee: A federal employee is an individual who works for the federal government. They are hired and employed by a specific agency of the federal government such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Environmental Protection Agency. Federal employees are generally considered to be public servants and are expected to follow a code of conduct, ethics, and integrity in their work. They typically receive a range of benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Federal employees may be eligible for other perks such as telework, transit subsidy, and student loan repayment programs. If you are interested in this opportunity, check out Section 2 of this article.
Fedpreneur: A person who forms a company to target federal opportunities is a Fedpreneur who has identified a market opportunity in providing goods or services to the federal government. They have set up their company to specifically bid and win federal contracts and grants, which can be in various fields such as defense, technology, construction, and consulting. This person may have prior experience in the field or industry or have conducted market research to identify areas of need within the government. They can navigate the complex regulations and requirements of doing business with the government and understand the competitive landscape of the federal procurement process. This type of entrepreneur is looking to grow their business by capitalizing on the large and steady stream of revenue that comes from government contracts. If you are interested in this opportunity, make sure to check out Section 3 of this article.
Federal Contractor Employee: A federal contractor employee is an individual who works for a company that has been contracted by the federal government to perform a specific task or service. These contracts can be in various fields such as defense, technology, construction, and consulting. Federal contractor employees work on projects that are funded by the government and are subject to the regulations and oversight of the contracting agency. They may be considered a government employee, but they are not considered a federal employee. Federal contractor employees typically do not receive the same benefits and protections as federal employees do. If you are interested in this opportunity, you should check out Section 3 of this article.
Finding Jobs in COVID and Recessions:
Now, let us tell you some tips and tricks to find a great job in difficult economic environments. Rather than spending so much time searching for a job in various private sector organizations, you should consider working for the largest employer in the US, the federal government. The US federal government employs over seven million men and women as federal contractors, federal employees, and federal grant employees. Since the federal government can “print” money, it is not going to run out of funds for hiring. Additionally, the federal government typically accelerates expenditure during emergencies through stimulus packages and interest-free loans. Here is a great, affordable program we have put together for helping you build fedpreneur, federal employee, or federal contractor careers. Check it out, it is called the Federal Business Accelerator.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle
SECTION 2: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
Where Are The federal jobs?
The size of the US federal government in terms of employees varies depending on the level of government. According to data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as of September 2021, the federal government employed approximately 2.1 million civilian employees.
- Executive Branch: This is the largest branch, with over 1.5 million employees. It includes agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and many others.
- Legislative Branch: This branch employs around 30,000 people and includes Congress, agencies such as the Government Accountability Office, and the Library of Congress.
- Judicial Branch: This branch employs around 30,000 people, and includes agencies such as the Federal Judiciary, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the Federal Public Defender organizations.
It's worth noting that this number does not include the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees, which is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch and employs over 600,000 people.
This data should be taken as approximate, as the number of employees in the Federal Government can change depending on budget, policies, and other factors.
Top 10 states with federal jobs:
Let us now look at the top 10 states with the most federal jobs as of 2021:
Virginia: Home to many federal agencies and contractors, including the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. ScaleUP USA is located here.
Maryland: Hosts many federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration.
Texas: Home to multiple federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
California: Hosts many federal agencies, including the NASA Ames Research Center and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
Georgia: Home to many federal agencies and military bases, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Fort Gordon army base.
Colorado: Hosts many federal agencies, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the United States Air Force Academy.
Florida: Home to many federal agencies and military bases, including the Kennedy Space Center and the Eglin Air Force Base.
Alabama: Home to many federal agencies and military bases, including the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal.
Missouri: Hosts many federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
- Ohio: Hosts many federal agencies, including the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and there are other states with many federal jobs as well. Also, this data can change depending on budget, policies, and other factors.
General Schedule (GS) Levels:
The federal government uses a system of grade levels, known as the General Schedule (GS), to classify and pay its employees. The GS system is divided into 15 grades, with each grade having 10 steps. The grades are as follows:
GS-1 to GS-4: Entry-level positions with relatively low pay and limited responsibilities.
GS-5 to GS-7: Lower-level positions with increasing pay and responsibilities.
GS-8 to GS-11: Mid-level positions with higher pay and more complex responsibilities.
GS-12 to GS-13: Supervisory and managerial positions with even higher pay and greater responsibilities.
- GS-14 and GS-15: Senior executive and top management positions with the highest pay and the greatest level of responsibility.
The salary range for each grade and step can vary depending on the location of the job and the cost of living in that area. In general, an employee's salary within a grade will increase as they move up the steps within that grade. For example, a GS-9 step 1 is typically lower than a GS-9 step 10.
The salary range for each grade and step is determined by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and can be found on the OPM website or by searching "GS pay scale" on google. It is also worth noting that some federal jobs are not covered by the GS pay scale, such as those in the Senior Executive Service (SES) or the Federal Wage System (FWS) which have different pay scales.
Senior Executive Service (SES) Levels:
The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a separate pay scale and personnel system within the federal government that covers certain senior-level positions. It was established in 1978 to provide a separate personnel system for key leadership positions in the federal government.
The SES is composed of top-level managers and executives in the federal government, and they serve as the link between political appointees and the career civil service. They are responsible for managing and leading programs and initiatives that have a broad impact across the federal government.
The SES is divided into three levels:
SES Level I: Positions that have a broad impact across multiple agencies and/or multiple mission areas.
SES Level II: Positions that have a broad impact within a single agency and/or a single mission area.
- SES Level III: Positions that have a significant impact within a single organization or program.
SES members are typically appointed to their positions by the President, the Vice President, or a Presidential appointee, and their appointment must normally be confirmed by the Senate. SES members typically receive higher salaries than those in the General Schedule (GS) pay scale, as well as additional benefits such as performance bonuses and retirement benefits. The salaries for SES members are determined by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and can be found on the OPM website or by searching "SES pay scale" on google.
What is USAJOBS?
USAJOBS is the official job site of the United States Federal Government. It is an online platform that allows job seekers to search and apply for job opportunities across the various agencies and departments of the Federal Government. The site includes job listings for positions at all levels of government, including entry-level, professional, and management positions. Some of the types of jobs that may be listed on USAJOBS include administrative, technical, and professional positions such as accountants, engineers, IT specialists, and more. USAJOBS also provides resources for veterans and individuals with disabilities to help them find employment opportunities within the Federal Government.
Top components of USA Jobs:
Here are some of the top components of the USAJOBS platform:
Job search: Allows job seekers to search for job opportunities based on keywords, location, and agency.
Resume builder: Allows job seekers to create and upload a resume to the USAJOBS database.
Job alerts: Allows job seekers to receive notifications when new job opportunities that match their search criteria become available.
Application status: Allows job seekers to check the status of their job applications and receive updates on the hiring process.
Federal resume guide: Provides guidance and resources for creating a federal resume, which is a specific type of resume required for certain federal job opportunities.
Veterans' resources: Provides resources and information for veterans to help them navigate the federal hiring process and find employment opportunities.
Employee benefits: Provides information on the benefits available to federal employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
Hiring process: Provides information on the steps involved in the federal hiring process, including the application process, interview, and background check.
Help Center: Provides answers to frequently asked questions and contact information for assistance with using the USAJOBS website.
- Blog: Offers information and resources on various topics related to federal employment, such as career development, work-life balance, and diversity and inclusion.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and there may be other features that USAJOBS offers.
Benefits of working for the federal government:
Working for the federal government can offer a wide range of benefits to employees, some of the top benefits include:
Job security: Federal jobs are relatively stable and secure, with relatively low turnover rates.
Competitive salaries and benefits: Federal employees generally earn higher salaries and have access to more comprehensive benefits packages than those in the private sector.
Generous leave and retirement benefits: Federal employees are eligible for generous leave policies, including vacation, sick, and holiday leave, as well as retirement benefits such as pensions and 401(k) plans.
Professional development opportunities: The federal government offers a wide range of professional development opportunities to its employees, including training, education, and advancement opportunities.
Work-life balance: Many federal agencies offer flexible schedules and telework options, making it easier for employees to balance their work and personal lives.
Health and wellness benefits: Federal employees have access to comprehensive health insurance plans, as well as other wellness benefits such as fitness centers and health clinics.
Support for veterans: The federal government is committed to hiring veterans and provides support and resources to help them transition to civilian careers.
Employee assistance programs: Federal agencies offer confidential counseling and other support services to help employees deal with personal or work-related issues.
Diversity and inclusion: The federal government is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, and many agencies have programs and initiatives in place to support this goal.
- Public service mission: Federal employees can contribute to the public good by working on important issues and making a real difference in the lives of people.
Please note that these benefits may vary depending on the agency and position, and not all benefits will be available to all employees.
Searching for jobs on USAJOBS:
The federal government is always hiring, there are thousands of opportunities in the federal government. The federal government has different hiring paths that cater to different people, for example, if you are a student who has just recently graduated from university, you can lessen competition by applying the filter “Recent Graduates” to get jobs that are specifically catered to people like you. Some other additional hiring paths are Veterans, Students, Military Spouses, Individuals with disabilities, etc. There are a total of 17 hiring paths.
Below is the snapshot of IT jobs available (Over 8,000) on the federal site on Jan 17th, 2023, when this article was written.
“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on!” — Sheryl Sandberg
Step by Step Strategies to get a federal government job:
The mechanics of applying for a federal job look easy. Here are the steps involved:
1. Create an account with login.gov
2. Create a USAJOBS profile
3. Search for jobs
4. Review job announcements
5. Understand if you meet the eligibility/qualifications
6. Prepare your application in USAJOBS
7. Submit applications to agencies
8. Check the status of your application
9. Agency reviews your application
10. Agency interviews candidates
11. Agency selects the candidate.
12. Agency does reference checks
13. Agency makes a job offer
14. Salary negotiations
15. Security clearance requirements
16. Candidate joins the federal job
Getting a job in the federal government is difficult. There is a lot of competition and the process of applying is complicated. Here are a couple of strategies for getting a federal government job, first, you may want to talk to federal employees who have a good understanding of the hiring process and are willing to guide you through it. Second, you can do some online research and hope to find accurate timely resources to guide you. Here is a comprehensive, affordable resource called the Federal Career Accelerator, which ScaleUP USA specifically put together that guides people to secure federal contractor employees, federal grant employees, as well as federal government employees jobs, through an affordable self-paced program.
Remember, the faster you learn how to apply systematically for federal jobs, the quicker you will get the job. So, spend the time, effort, and resources necessary to get the job. This does not mean spending thousands of dollars, but a few hundred dollars here or there in preparation and planning can get you several thousand-dollar jobs, then that is a good thing. So, do the cost-benefit analysis — find the resources you need and get prepared to apply.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
Approaches to USAJOBS Applications:
Finally, we want to discuss the approaches candidates take while applying for federal jobs and their success rates.
- “Shotgun” Federal Job Application Approach: A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire several small spherical pellets called shots, or a solid projectile called a slug. The shot pellets from a shotgun spread upon leaving the barrel, and the power of the burning charge is divided among the pellets, which means that the energy of any one ball of shot is fairly low (source Wikipedia). In this approach, a candidate makes a lot of “haphazard” applications to various jobs at various grades in various agencies posted on USA Jobs without any planning, preparation, or strategy. The result is a lot of time wasted and no interviews or jobs! In Federal Career Accelerator’s experience, most of the candidates follow this path, get frustrated, and leave the application process. Don’t take this approach. If you do, you are doomed to fail.
- “Machine Gun” Federal Job Application Approach: A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine (source Wikipedia). Because the bullets are flying in quick succession, it is difficult to target accurately, though, you can focus on a particular area for damage. In this approach, the candidate is focused on submitting a “boatload” of applications without considering the quality of the applications to a particular agency. The theory is that if you send in a lot of applications to the federal government something will convert into a federal job. Not true. The result is a lot of time wasted and again no interviews or jobs! In Federal Career Accelerator’s experience, a significant number of candidates still follow this path, get frustrated, and leave the application process. Again, don’t take this approach. If you do, you are doomed to fail.
- “Sharpshooter” Federal Job Application Approach: A sharpshooter is highly proficient at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately (source Wikipedia). A sharpshooter does a lot of pre-planning, practice, and strategizing — all to achieve a higher kill rate. In this approach, the candidate is fully focused on submitting a few high-quality job applications they are interested in and have the eligibility and qualifications to secure the job. In Federal Career Accelerator’s experience, few candidates take this approach, however, this approach has the best success rates. It is critical to understand the whole federal application process in-depth and then use this knowledge to beat the competition. The whole Federal Career Accelerator program is based on this targeted, precision-based approach to federal job applications.
“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.” — Bruce Lee
SECTION 3: FEDPRENEURSHIP AND FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Becoming a Fedpreneur:
The US federal government is the world’s largest marketplace. In 2021, the US federal government spent around $7.5 trillion on grants and fixed charges and an additional $1.1 trillion on contracts and supplies. The federal government also directly or indirectly employs over 9 million federal employees, contractors, and others - nationwide. Yet, unfortunately, for those who do or plan to do business with the government, there is no formal learning process to vision, strategize, plan, implement, and continuously improve their federal business growth and execution strategy. Many therefore muddle their way and lead by trial and error and often fail. Therefore, the winners keep winning and the losers keep losing.
ScaleUP USA therefore, designed the Federal Business Accelerator Program after significant research, brainstorming, pilots, and interviews with government and industry professionals. The program is delivered digitally to desktop or mobile devices, is always on, highly scalable, low investment, very affordable, requires no equity dilution, and operates across America and even globally. This program trains startups, home, and small businesses, as well as company executives and employees of all sizes on the best practices, processes, procedures, and methods for how to do business with the federal government.
Here are the areas ScaleUP USA aims to cover in these most comprehensive programs:
ScaleUP USA designed the 4-stage Federal Business Accelerator Program. The program starts with the free 90 minutes workshop to help businesses decide if the federal marketplace is a good fit for them. Next, the foundational bundled program consists of 10+ video-based targeted courses plus practicums covering the above-bulleted topics and much more. They also have advanced consultative programs like the Federal Partnership Marketplace and the Industry Powered Learning programs for increased growth. Make sure to check it out.
Federal Contractor Jobs:
The largest number of jobs within the federal government community are with federal contractors. There are thousands of federal contractors from the largest like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and others to small mom-and-pop shops who doing contracting business with the government. These jobs are spread across the nation and even internationally. You can prepare for these jobs by taking the above Federal Business Accelerator program and getting yourself fully prepared right from your home and then making targeted applications to secure jobs with such federal contractors where you have interests and in areas of your passion. The 10-plus courses plus practicums in the federal business accelerator provide you with greater details of how you go about doing this in a step-by-step approach. and remember, securing a job with a federal contractor is almost always easier than securing a job as a federal employee. Here are some key differences between federal employee jobs and federal contractor jobs:
Employment status: Federal employees are directly employed by the government and are part of the civil service, while federal contractors are employed by private companies that have been contracted by the government to provide goods or services.
Job security: Federal employees typically have greater job security than federal contractors. Federal employees have civil service protections, such as the right to appeal disciplinary actions, and are not subject to layoffs due to budget cuts or other factors. Federal contractors, on the other hand, may have their contracts terminated or not renewed, resulting in the loss of their job.
Benefits: Federal employees typically have access to a wide range of benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Federal contractors, on the other hand, may not have access to the same level of benefits, as they are provided by their private employer.
Salaries: Federal employees are typically paid according to the General Schedule (GS) pay scale, which is based on grade and step levels. Federal contractors, on the other hand, are typically paid based on the terms of their contract, which may include fixed hourly or project-based rates.
Job responsibilities: Federal employees typically have more stable and permanent roles, and their responsibilities are defined by the government agency for which they work. Federal contractors, on the other hand, typically have more specific and temporary roles, and their responsibilities are defined by the terms of their contracts.
Hiring process: The hiring process for federal employees is typically more rigorous and competitive, as they must go through a series of exams and interviews, as well as a background check. Federal contractors, on the other hand, may only need to submit a proposal and go through a contract bidding process.
- Termination process: Federal employees have civil service protection, which makes it more difficult to terminate them, they must go through a series of steps, and if they are terminated, they have the right to appeal. Federal contractors, on the other hand, can be terminated when the contract ends or if the contractor breaches the terms of the contract.
Please note that these are general differences and specific details may vary depending on the job, the agency, and the contractor.
SECTION 4: SECURITY LEVELS FOR FEDERAL CAREERS
Building a federal career may require you to secure security clearance. Within the US federal government, there are several different levels of security clearance, each with its own set of requirements and qualifications. The main levels are:
Confidential: This is the lowest level of security clearance and is typically given to federal employees who need access to information that, if disclosed, could cause damage to national security. To obtain a Confidential clearance, an individual must have a thorough background investigation, which includes a check of their credit, criminal, and employment history.
Secret: This level of security clearance is required for access to information or material that, if disclosed, could cause serious damage to national security. To obtain a Secret clearance, an individual must have a more extensive background investigation than for a Confidential clearance, which includes a check of their credit, criminal, and employment history, as well as a personal interview.
Top Secret: This is the highest level of security clearance and is required for access to information or material that, if disclosed, could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. To obtain a Top-Secret clearance, an individual must have a much more extensive background investigation than for a Secret clearance. This can include an investigation into the individual's finances, foreign contacts, and psychological evaluation.
- Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI): This is a specific type of clearance that is required for access to sensitive or classified information that is compartmentalized or restricted to a specific group of people. The requirements for obtaining an SCI clearance are like those for a Top-Secret clearance, but also include a "need-to-know" determination, which means that the individual must have a specific job requirement for access to the information.
In addition to these clearance levels, there are also special access programs (SAPs) which are a type of security clearance that is required for access to sensitive information that is not available to all authorized personnel. These clearance levels have more stringent requirements than the standard levels.
It's worth noting that the process of obtaining a security clearance can take several months to complete, and not everyone who applies will be granted a clearance. Factors such as financial stability, criminal history, and foreign contacts can all affect the outcome of the security clearance process.
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