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Old 09-03-2011, 02:59 PM
 
154 posts, read 351,597 times
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My husband and I are both interested in government employment and need some advice. I have a development/grants background and am interested in the Dept of Interior or the Smithsonian. I consider myself to have mid-level experience but am willing to except a lower grade because the pay is comparable to what I am making now.

My husband is interested in working for the State Dept. or USAID, he has experience in International Affairs, in particular with East Asia.

We have both applied for a number of opportunities with these agencies and haven't even been called for an interview. Does anyone have any insight as to how to network to meet people or are there other ways to get an insider track?
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Old 09-03-2011, 03:23 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,328,017 times
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Hiring is tight. Many agencies are seeking to pay people to leave.
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:00 PM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,090,790 times
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It seems to be the same old story. You see all these jobs advertised on USAJobs but no one, off the street, EVER seems to get a callback.

I work for a government agency and our jobs (which are not internal hires) do post on USAJobs. However, I can tell you than any hiring manager is extremely leary of hiring off the street.

In general, when an announcement is put out "all sources" the hiring manager has an idea in mind of a handful of people that he/she would like to hire and know will make the cert from the announcement. The hardest part is tailoring your resume to make the cert. After that, if you do make it, you will probably be in competition with applicants who may have direct experience in the job but were contract employees.

My suggestion, if you want to get into the federal government, is to look for the contractor support staff that may work directly with that office. It is your best bet for getting in.

I work in DoD. One of my coworkers (finance field) just made an easy-enough transition to State Department. I think it's hard to get in from the outside with no direct experience.
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:12 PM
 
504 posts, read 651,198 times
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I agree with what has been said above. Most people I know in government either got hired right out of school (often through some sort of fellowship program), served in the military, or worked as a contractor first.

As far as networking, I would see if there are any resources available through any alumni organizations or professional societies you belong to.
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Old 09-03-2011, 05:11 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,018,995 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
It seems to be the same old story. You see all these jobs advertised on USAJobs but no one, off the street, EVER seems to get a callback.

I work for a government agency and our jobs (which are not internal hires) do post on USAJobs. However, I can tell you than any hiring manager is extremely leary of hiring off the street.
It's no different with big companies. Hiring managers are lazy and take the path of least resistance. They're more interested in hiring someone "good enough" rather than the best. Another reason smaller companies have much more dynamic workplaces. A great way to turn someone into a Republican is have them apply for government work, even though it's not as I said, unique to the public sector.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:16 PM
 
1,783 posts, read 3,352,808 times
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Yes it is indeed difficult to get in with no government experience. The higher the level, the more difficult it will be. The best bet (in addition to the above suggestions) is to apply for very large hirings (30+) where it is likely that managers will have to hire people outside of government. These are often temp/term jobs but you'll get the experience and networking experience you need to secure a more permanent position and move up from there.

IRS, Social Security, and Veterans Affairs are agencies that often need a large amount of people but I anticipate that with the budget issues that there will be far less mass hirings than in years past. The good news is that there will definitely be a large number of people retiring in the next few years, and despite attrition efforts such as bringing in 1 person for every 2 retiring (many agencies are already doing this), there still will be a good number of positions becoming available. I took a temp job, a term job, and then got into the (now extinct) federal career intern program to finally get a permanent position in government. Prepare for an uphill battle, but if you're determined, then I think you will get in. Despite a lot of anti-government rhetoric that gets thrown around, there are a lot of really interesting and rewarding positions to advance your respective careers...good luck to you.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:20 PM
 
429 posts, read 1,007,336 times
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State and USAID are both hiring, but there is a lot of competition for international affairs jobs. An advanced degree and deep expertise will generally be a requirement to even be considered. Fluency in a hard language or other exceptional skills help a lot. It might be different if you are looking for a job that is not directly foreign affairs related or have a very specific skill, like IT or accounting.

Becoming a State Department Foreign Service Officer is an exception to the rule. The FSO hiring process is exam-based and does not require an advanced degree or particular experience, although having them can be positive. That said, competition for State Foreign Service slots is even harder than for civil service positions. USAID's Foreign Service entrance process is not exam-based, but successful applicants usually have advanced degrees and considerable development experience. NGOs or Peace Corps can be good places to start to build experience that leads to positions at USAID. The State Department also hires Foreign Service Specialists (like security officers, Couriers, Office Managers, IT specialists, and medical personnel). These positions have their own entrance processes and hiring standards. Both the State and USAID websites will provide details on how to apply.
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:15 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,328,017 times
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Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
It's no different with big companies. Hiring managers are lazy and take the path of least resistance. They're more interested in hiring someone "good enough" rather than the best.
This is illegal in most federal hiring. Relevant justification must be written and approved when hiring candidates not at the top of OPM's rankings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
Another reason smaller companies have much more dynamic workplaces.
Like bringing the boss's 20-something son in as a VP? There's dynamism for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
A great way to turn someone into a Republican is have them apply for government work, even though it's not as I said, unique to the public sector.
A great way to deprogram a Republican is to give him a federal job, and then show him all the kookie things that Republicans try to say about federal employment.
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:28 AM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,090,790 times
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Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Like bringing the boss's 20-something son in as a VP? There's dynamism for you.
I actually see this going on in our contractor workforce. It's amazing. Now they are not actually brought in at the VP level but the fact that a program manager brings their kids in is astounding to me.


Quote:
A great way to deprogram a Republican is to give him a federal job, and then show him all the kookie things that Republicans try to say about federal employment.
Another true statement. I have never worked so hard as in my federal job.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:20 AM
 
504 posts, read 651,198 times
Reputation: 512
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
This is illegal in most federal hiring. Relevant justification must be written and approved when hiring candidates not at the top of OPM's rankings.
True, but often the job description is so narrowly written that only candidates who have worked in the job or in the office as a contractor, fed employee, or member of the military have the very specific experience needed to make the cut. The very narrow focus of many federal hiring managers could be considered settling for a "good enough" but known quantity rather than a potentially better but unknown "off the street" candidate.
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