Go Government! – Adding the best of Federal Employers to your job search strategy

In all likelihood, it has not been a bed of roses for federal workers in recent years; job satisfaction for government employees has noticeably dropped from all-time highs just after President Obama’s first inauguration. Between salary freezes, “big government” battles on Capital Hill, and media-hyped State Dept., IRS, and NSA scandals, you may wonder if a career in the federal government is for you. Not surprisingly, there is more to the story career-wise and here’s what you need to know to make the best decision for your job or internship search.

The Federal Job Landscape

With over 70 agencies and the federal government has a broad array of careers and avenues to apply them. Best of all, the government is hiring – over 200,000 job vacancies are anticipated to be become available in 2014. In fact, over a third of federal workers of the baby boomer generation will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years, resulting in a vigorous recruiting initiative to fill the gap. The good news is that Haverford students and alumni have many of the skills for which federal agencies are looking – analytical, communication, multi-disciplinary, global, team-oriented, and mission driven. Moreover, the government has a special initiative to bring in mission-critical entry level employees in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) along with multi-lingual and public health specialists – good fits for many of our Fords.

Benefits of Federal Careers

Most federal workers describe the call to service to our country as an abiding inspiration to their careers. In addition, federal workers receive generous employment benefits that are steadily eroding in the private sector. Federal workers enjoy family-friendly flexible work weeks, telecommuting options, substantial health and retirement benefits, proven and relatively timely early career track promotions with associated salary increases, job sharing and more. Employee development training along the way is standard and career movement between federal agencies is not uncommon for career growth.

Work for the Best

Like companies in the private sector, not all federal agencies are cut from the same cloth. They range in size, mission, and funding status as well as career satisfaction. Where do you start with assessing the best and the brightest of the federal agencies and departments? The kind folks at the Partnership for Public Service have done the work for you with their Best Places to Work in the Federal Government website. The Best Places to Work “Top-5” agencies by size are:

  • Large Agencies: NASA, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of State, Dept. of Justice, Intelligence Community
  • Medium Agencies: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, Smithsonian Institute, Government Accountability Office, Federal Trade Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Small Agencies: Surface Transportation Board, National Endowment for the Humanities, Federal Remediation and Conciliation Service, Peace Corps, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

Haverford Alumni can be found throughout the federal landscape. A quick search of LinkinIn reveals that the Dept. of State and the Dept. of Justice are in the top 20 employers of Fords. Note that networking is just as effective in the government sector as in private and non-profit sectors; the CCPA recommends using the many Ford and Bi-Co networking resources listed on our website to boost your search effectiveness.

Beyond USAJOBS.GOV – Applying for Federal Employment

Isn’t the federal job application process full of forms and red tape? Yes, anyone who has explored the USAJOBS.gov, the federal jobs & intern website, will tell you that is still true to some degree but there are some great new websites to help cut through the “government speak”. Among the best is GoGovernment.gov which lays out the entry-level and intern hiring process among federal agencies. Search for entry level job leads by major or by agency, learn the best techniques for creating a federal resume, get job search tips from the hiring pros, and find resources to dive deeper in the many facets of beginning a federal career. Individual agency websites will also highlight their hiring needs and are well worth exploring for job leads. Finally, let USAJOBS.GOV do the search work for you. After creating a profile and federal resume in USAJOBS, you can save your job or intern search criteria. You can then opt into having USAJOBS email you new postings that meet your criteria as they come in – saving you the chore of constantly monitoring USAJOBS.

Summing It Up

Federal Government will be hiring actively in the next few years to keep up with a retirement wave and Haverford students are particularly well-matched for mission-critical jobs to be offered in the best and brightest of the federal agencies. As a newly certified Federal Advisor center, the CCPA will be posting Federal Job Search resources on our website to assist you. Finally, a few parting words from President Barack Obama regarding the federal mission ahead:

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. 

Change doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.                    

Could that change be you?