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Reading a federal job posting

November 2, 2010

So, maybe you attended Federal Careers Week and were so excited by what you learned that you’ve decided to apply for a federal job. You made your USAJobs account, did some targeted searching and came up with a list of job postings. Your next step is to determine whether any of your results are right for you based upon your experience and interests.

You’ll be pleased to know that USAJobs postings have gotten shorter and easier to read over recent years. In the past you may have encountered very lengthy vacancy announcements (we’re talking 25+ pages) and an inconsistent format that often left applicants scratching their heads. Now, you’ll find that postings are much shorter (five pages or less) and all follow a simple five tab format, as seen in the graphic below.

Mastering these five tabs will help you to read any opening on USAJobs.

1. Overview

The Overview tab presents some important initial information to applicants, including salary, location, the mission of the organization and potentially some short details about the position itself. Study this section carefully to ensure that you’re looking within an appropriate pay grade and that the agency is one you might want to work for.

2. Duties

If you’re wondering what you’d do on a day-to-day basis in this position, the Duties section should answer most of your questions. One important suggestion: if you read through the duties of the job and think that it sounds boring/not challenging/elicits some other negative feeling, don’t apply!

3. Qualifications & Evaluations

The Qualifications & Evaluations tab is critical for two main reasons. First, the Qualifications section tells you whether you qualify for the job based upon your level of experience and education. If you do not meet the requirements laid out here, do not waste your time applying for the position. Second, the Evaluations section shows you how your application will be assessed. With KSA essays disappearing from the first step of the application process, you will likely be evaluated by both your resume and a questionnaire. You might even be able to preview the questionnaire before taking it.

4. Benefits & Other Info

This section provides links to and information about health and life insurance, retirement plans, vacation and sick leave, and other benefits associated with the position.

5. How to Apply

This final section does exactly what it says. Be sure to follow all of the steps required in the “How to Apply” tab to ensure that you’ve submitted all documentation before the close date. You don’t want your entire application to be disregarded because you forgot to fill out a brief form.

If you have questions about any of the information in a USAJobs posting, contact the HR rep listed along the right side of the announcement or visit the Career Center.

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