Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Lowdown on USAJOBS

As an international affairs or like minded grad I would bet my small salary you have come across positions at that twinkled your eye. Maybe you were interested a foreign affairs analyst vacancy at State, or an international relations analyst vacancy at the Department of Defense. And you may think to yourself, "Absolutely I'm qualified! I have language skills, study abroad experience, and just went through four years of studying every political system, and international issue on the planet!"

But you have to be very careful about treading through this draconian process. It is critical to save time and be strategic about what positions you apply for and in your job search in general. Before doing anything, you need to create a resume and to make your life easier, set up search agents so that your notified when a favorable position opens up. So after you have created your resume and search-agents on you need to figure out what kind of GS level do you fit in. This chart gives an accurate illustration of where you would fit:

GS-1 None
GS-2 High school graduation or equivalent
GS-3 1 academic year above high school
GS-4 2 academic years above high school,
Associate's degree
GS-5 4 academic years above high school leading to a bachelor's degree,
Bachelor's degree
GS-7 Bachelor's degree with Superior Academic Achievement for two-grade interval positions,
1 academic year of graduate education (or law school, as specified in qualification standards or individual occupational requirements)
GS-9 Master's (or equivalent graduate degree such as LL.B. or J.D. as specified in qualification standards or individual occupational requirements),
2 academic years of progressively higher level graduate education
GS-11 Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree,
3 academic years of progressively higher level graduate education,
For research positions only, completion of all requirements for a master's or equivalent degree
GS-12 For research positions only, completion of all requirements for a doctoral or equivalent degree


So after you've figured out your grade, you can search by your grade only, which I highly recommend. Even if there is a position that you find very attractive and that you think you may have experience for, if you do not match the qualifications requirements DO NOT APPLY. Unlike private sector jobs which usually give more leeway to great cover letters, exuberant internships or an amazing resume federal agencies do not mess around when it comes to experience. If you don't have what the fine print says then do not both. It is simply not worth the energy to fill out all of the KSA's, multiple choice questions and other requirements when you will receive a disqualification email a few weeks/months later.

Some of you may be turned off or just exhausted with the federal application system but do not lose heart. According to the Washington Post the administration has heard the public outcry and is going to end the KSA's and streamline the application process. So I am somewhat optimistic about the future but I'll save the champagne until I see some real results. I mean it is an election year!

I will post a new jobs listing tonight/tomorrow that should have some goodies. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!



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