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Home  > Article

How Federal Jobs are Filled

By USA Jobs

Many Federal agencies fill their jobs like private industry by allowing applicants to contact the agency directly for job information and application processing.

Most Federal agencies are responsible for their own hiring actions. Resumes are preferred when applying; however, the Optional Application for Federal Employment, OF 612, is also accepted. Also, most positions do not require a written test. While the process is similar to that in private industry, there are differences due to the laws, executive orders, and regulations that govern Federal employment.

There are two classes of jobs in the Federal Government:
  1. those in the competitive civil service, and
  2. those in the excepted service.
Competitive service jobs are subject to the civil service laws passed by Congress to ensure that applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. A basic principle of Federal employment is that all candidates must meet the qualification requirements before they hired into the position.
Excepted service agencies set their own qualification requirements and are not subject to the same Congressional laws; however, they are subject to Veterans' preference. Some Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have only excepted service positions. Other agencies may have both types of positions.
Agencies are required to post their competitive service positions on OPM's USAJOBS system whenever they are seeking applicants from the general public and outside of their own agency. Although agencies are not required to post their excepted service positions on USAJOBS, many do so they can get additional applicants. Remember, an agency is under no obligation to make a selection. In some instances, an agency may cancel the posting and choose to re-announce the vacancy at a later time.
USAJOBS is the Federal Government's official Employment Information System. On USAJOBS, you can explore over 15,000 jobs on any given day; build and store up to five resumes for applying to Federal jobs; and access a wide-range of information about Federal agencies and different Federal employment issues. USAJOBS is also accessible by telephone at (703) 724-1850 or TDD (978) 461-8404. The USAJOBS phone system affords job seekers the same access to job and employment information as the website.
Most Federal agencies do their own recruiting and hiring. Agencies post their announcements on USAJOBS with all of the instructions and procedures for applying to that particular position. Because agencies do their own hiring and have different requirements, procedures and information required are often varied between agencies. All agencies require the basic resume information but it varies on how much additional information is needed in order for the agency to process your application. Examples include transcripts, forms, narrative descriptions of competencies, questionnaires, etc. It's recommended that you follow the instructions very carefully. Information not submitted can result in your application not being evaluated.
Many announcements allow applicants to apply online directly to the agency. Using the online method, you decide which resume to submit for that particular job. Contact information at the agency is also given in the announcement. If you have questions, call or email the contact person.
For additional information or if you have questions about Federal employment issues, please visit our FAQ section.

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