Guide to Getting a Government Job

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The U.S. Government is the Nation’s largest single
employer. But if you’re job hunting, don’t think of Uncle Sam
in singular terms. About 3 million Federal workers are spread
out among more than 100 Government departments, agencies,
commissions, bureau, and boards. You simply cannot send an
application to a single Government entity and be considered for
every job that exists.

Today’s merit-based system of civil service has roots more
than a century old. The Pendleton Act, passed in 1883, was the
first step toward overhauling the excesses of the patronage
system. Congress agreed to reform civil service laws only after
President Garfield was assassinated in 1881 by a disgruntled
office seeker he had declined to appoint. Until then, jobs went
to political supporters, regardless of merit. Now, the
political positions that exist, about 3,000 jobs at the top,
are reserved for those who work closely with Cabinet members
and the President. So unless you’re a friend of the President
or a friend of a friend, you’ll have to get your Government
job on your own.

And there’s more than one way to get a Federal job.
There’s more than one way you can apply for jobs, more than one
way you are evaluated, and more than one person doing the
hiring. There are affirmative employment programs, cooperative
education and other student employment programs, and summer job
programs. How you apply for a Federal job depends on your
qualifications, the number of vacancies in your field, the
number of people applying, where you want to work, the salary
you expect, and the kind of job you want. If you are looking
for a job with the U.S. Postal Service or are qualified to
start above the entry level, you can apply directly to
agencies. But if you are a college student or a college
graduate looking for a white-collar Federal job, keep reading.
The accompanying box, “Who Is Being Hired by the Federal
Government? The Word from OPM,” gives the short answer to that
question, but the long answer is a little more complicated.
This article will help you find your way through the
Government’s hiring maze.


Learning the Basics


If you’re like most Federal job seekers, you don’t know
where to begin. You might start by learning about the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM). Although it does not hire
applicants (except for its own needs), OPM manages employment
policy for more than half the civil service. It develops and
gives written exams, rates applicants, and refers applicants to
agencies with openings. It also publicises job openings through
automated telephone systems, electronic bulletin boards, and
printed materials. Most importantly. OPM defines the
qualifications required for different occupations and manages
the Administrative Careers With America (ACWA) program.
(Helpful hint: People in Federal personnel circles refer to
this program by its acronym, pronouncing it like the Latin word
for water, aqua.)

Do You Qualify? Check Handbook X-118
OPM writes qualification standards for the scores of
white-collar occupations it regulates. You must meet these
minimum qualifications to be hired. Qualifications for jobs
under ACWA appear in the table that begins on page 18. For
information on other occupations and for more complete
information about ACWA occupations, consult Qualification
Standards for White-Collar Positions Under the General
Schedule, generally referred to as Handbook X-118. It gives the
name of the occupation and its series number, which will prove
very useful because jobs are often listed in numerical order.
Perhaps most importantly, Handbook X-118 also gives the
requirements for entering jobs at different salary levels.

The Federal Government has several pay systems. About 450
white-collar occupations are part of the General Schedule (GS),
which consists of 15 numerical grade levels. (See table, “GS
Pay Scales.”) College graduates with no experience usually
qualify for jobs at the GS-5 level. Even if you are qualified
to start at a higher grade, you may need to begin work at the
GS-5 or GS-7 level because the agency might be recruiting only
entry-level workers. Agencies are not required to hire you at a
higher level.

Keep in mind that meeting the minimum qualifications does
not necessarily get you a job. Agencies look for the best
qualified people. Even though a job such as writer-editor
requires no particular degree, employers will look for related
experience–school newspaper work, writings, relevant summer
jobs–that demonstrates interest and potential for development
in this field.

You can find Handbook X-118 in a loose leaf binder at
personnel offices of all Federal agencies, Federal Job
Information Centres, and most Federal depository libraries.
Some State Job Service offices, college placement offices, and
public libraries also have copies.

GS Pay Scales
Federal employee salaries are based on several pay
systems. The largest is the General Schedule (GS). The chart
shows pay scales for 15 grades covering most white-collar
Federal workers, as of January 1, 1993. Blue-collar salaries
vary by city or region.

Entry-level positions for most college graduates begin at
the GS-5 or GS-7 level. Generally, entry-level professionals
and administrators are promoted two grades at a time, often
annually, until they reach GS-11. Subsequent promotions are one
grade at a time.

Most people are hired at pay step 1 of their grade.
Advancement by steps, or within-grade increases, occurs after
52 to 156 weeks, depending on the person’s current step.

To make the Government more competitive with private
employers, some Federal workers are paid special rates. Higher
salaries are paid to some workers who are in short supply, such
as engineers. scientists, and health personnel. White-collar
workers in New York City. San Francisco, and Los Angeles get an
8-percent cost-of-living differential. Some law enforcement and
clerical workers also receive special rates.

A look at ACWA
ACWA, or Career America, is OPM’s job-entry program for
college graduates who will, if hired, start at the GS-5 or GS-7
level. College seniors within 9 months of graduation may also
apply for jobs through this program. Many of the occupations
require a specific degree or completion of certain courses, but
you can qualify for others with any degree. No experience is
required for any of these occupations, but related experience
can always help you compete.

ACWA covers 116 administrative and professional
occupations in 7 groups, the first 6 of which require separate

Group 1: Health, Safety, and Environmental
Group 2: Writing and Public Information
Group 3: Business, Finance, and Management
Group 4: Personnel, Administration, and Computers
Group 5: Benefits Review, Tax, and Legal
Group 6: Law Enforcement and Investigation
Group 7: Professional Occupations. Not Requiring an Exam

Some of the 100 occupations in the first 6 groups have
specific educational requirements, but most do not. All 16
occupations in group 7 are professional and, by OPM’s
definition, require certain academic course work. The
requirements for all 116 occupations, as well as the employment
in each, are listed in the table beginning on page 18.

ACWA Applications
Each ACWA group has a different application form. But,
generally, you must pass a written test or show that you have
the education required or both. One exception is made for those
who qualify for the Outstanding Scholar Program; it exempts
from testing college students who graduated in the upper 10
percent of their class or earned a cumulative grade-point
average (GPA) of 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale.

To find out which groups you can apply for, visit or call
your nearest OPM office or Federal Job Information Centre. Ask
for each groups Qualifications Information Statement to learn
more about that group’s jobs, qualifications, and application
procedures. You can also call the Career America Connection’s
automated telephone system at (912) 757-3000. (In the
Washington, DC, metropolitan area, call the Washington Area
Service Centre at (202) 606-2700.)

Applications to take the test for most groups can be
submitted at any time, but groups 1 and 2 may be closed in your
region. For occupations in group 7, you may apply only when
openings are announced; hiring is very limited.

Information statements for groups requiring exams include
a test scheduling card, OPM Form 5000 AB, as well as
application details and a list of OPM offices. Complete the
test scheduling form and mail it to the OPM office in the area
where you want to take your test. You should also request
sample test questions. Within a few weeks of mailing your test
scheduling card, you should receive materials indicating the
time and location of the exam. Also included is a booklet
containing sample questions.

You may take as many different exams as you like, but you
may not retake a test within an occupational group for 1 year.
You must bring a photo ID for entrance to the testing room.

Each written test has three parts. The first part consists
of 12 vocabulary and 13 reading questions. The second part has
8 questions on tabular completion and 9 on arithmetic
reasoning. The third part is the Individual Achievement Record,
which evaluates how well you have used your opportunities in
school, work, or outside activities. The exam takes about 75
minutes: 30 minutes each for the first and second sections and
15 minutes for the third.


After the Test: Ratings and Registers


All exams in groups 3 through 6 for the continental United
States are processed at the OPM Staffing Service Centre in
Macon, GA.

You will receive a Notice of Results within a few days of
your test date. Your performance on the exam is boiled down to
a numerical score, called a rating. Passing scores range from
70 to 100. (Veterans with a passing grade receive an extra 5
points; disabled veterans, an extra 10 points.) The names of all
candidates with passing scores are ranked in numerical order on
a list maintained by OPM. The list is called a register or
competitor inventory. From this register, OPM makes referrals
to agencies filling job vacancies.

Names remain on a register for 1 year. But not everyone on
a register gets a job. Currently, only those with ratings in
the middle to high 90’s are being referred to agencies, and
there’s still plenty of competition. From October 1, 1992, to
February 1, 1993, OPM only referred about 6,400 job applicants
to agencies, out of about 70,000 eligible candidates for groups
3 through 6. Of those 6,400 referred, only about 200 were
hired. As for the others, according to one OPM official, “the
vast majority don’t hear and probably won’t hear.”

Along with your test materials, you will have received a
background questionnaire, Occupational Supplement Form B, that
you must complete and bring with you to the test. It includes
questions on your education and experience, and also has some
questions about the kind of position you are looking for. For
example, it asks you to indicate up to nine specific geographic
locations in which you are willing to work. These can play an
important role in whether you are called for an interview,
because referrals are made according to candidates’ designation
for working in the agency’s location. The central processing
system allows you to be considered for employment in several
geographic zones without having to take the same exam in each
zone. But don’t confuse this with the requirement that you take
a separate written test for each occupational group that
requires one.


Other Jobs, Other Registers


OPM also maintains registers for specialised occupations
outside the Career America program. Specialised occupations do
not require a written test but do require specific
coursework–just as the ACWA group 7 occupations do. Ratings
for these registers are based on applicants’ education and
experience. The specialised occupations include positions in
accounting and auditing, biological sciences, engineering,
mathematical sciences, and physical sciences. You need to
request Qualifications Information Statements for detailed
information about the specific educational requirements needed.
Call the Career America Connection or visit your nearest OPM
office or Federal Job Information Centre.

The Qualifications Information Statements you will receive
for non test positions do not, obviously, include a test
scheduling card. But you will receive Occupational Supplement
Form B. For non test positions, your rating is based entirely on
the information you supply on this form. A computer will read
your responses, so you must take special care to indicate that
you meet the specific course work requirements for that
occupation. For example, with a public administration or other
business degree, you are eligible for accountant positions if
you have 24 semester credit hours in accounting. But the
computer will not recognise that you meet this provision unless
you indicate accounting as an undergraduate major (defined by
OPM as 24 or more semester hours, or 36 or more quarter hours)
on Form B. Read the instructions carefully when completing the

All Form B processing is done at the OPM Staffing Service
Centre in Macon. You should receive a Notice of Rating within 2
weeks of mailing your form. If you are eligible, your rating
will be a numerical score from 70 to 100. Currently, applicants
referred to agencies to be considered for openings have scores
in the middle to high 90’s, as is the case with the ACWA
occupations in groups 1 through 6. The geographic location you
indicated on Form B likewise plays a role in referrals.
National registers are maintained in Macon for accountant/
auditor and bioscience positions. But engineering, physical
science, and math registers are downloaded directly to the
specific geographic zones you named on Form B. To be considered
for positions in more than one zone, you must submit a separate
form for each zone.

The SF 171
For many jobs, filling out an application is part of the
hiring process. The Federal Government is no exception. An
Application for Federal Employment, Standard Form 171 (SF 171),
is required for every Federal employee’s personnel file. For
many positions, including ACWA occupations, you do not need to
submit an SF 171 to take a test or complete an Occupational
Supplement Form B. But you will still need to submit an SF 171.
prior to being hired. For most agencies, the SF 171 is the
designated application.

As your prospective employer’s introduction to you, the SF
171 is a chance for you to present yourself at your very best.
Fill it out quickly and you’re wasting your time; thousands of
applications are received by Government offices each year, and
only the best attract attention. You should spend several hours
to complete the application. It may seem tedious, but the time
you invest could mean the difference between an interview and a
rejection letter.

Blank SF 171 forms are available at Federal
Job Information Centres, most Federal agencies’ personnel
offices, and many post offices, libraries, and State Job
Service offices. You can also buy automated programs for
producing your SF 171 on a computer.

Before you make any marks on the form, make several photocopies
to use as drafts. Then prepare a master copy for each
occupation you wish to enter and make photocopies of them. It’s
acceptable to submit a photocopied SF 171 when applying for
jobs. Here are some hints on preparing those masters.

Read the form in its entirety, including the instructions,
before you begin completing it. Most of the blocks are
self-explanatory, but some deserve special attention.

Item 24, the work experience blocks, can make or break
you. This is the section where you are asked to describe your
duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Duties are the
work you perform for your employers, responsibilities involve
your independence and judgement, and accomplishments refer to
duties performed beyond what is expected of you. If possible,
show that you have progressed in each job, and from one job to
the next, by taking on more demanding duties or more

Note all work experience, including volunteer work related
to the position you’re applying for. Be specific. You may think
everyone knows what a data entry keyer does, but don’t stake
your future salary on it. If you do not spell out exactly what
you did, you may not get credit for any of it. In describing
your work experience, use strong verbs, such as performed,
rather than weak phrases. such as “was responsible for
performing.” You also want to use the vocabulary that appears
in Handbook X-118 if you are relying on your experience to
qualify for an occupation. Whenever possible. quantify your
accomplishments. Present yourself in a positive light, but
don’t overstate your duties.

Type your work descriptions on blank pieces of paper,
leaving room for the heading block at the top of the page and
the for-agency-use block at the bottom. Then cut both blocks
from a photocopy of the SF 171, tape them in the appropriate
places on your typed page, and photocopy the new page. The
photocopy of your cut-and-paste page. which will not reveal
your tape lines, results in a much neater look than trying to
fit everything on to the tiny lines provided. Type your name,
social security number, the position title, and the vacancy
announcement number on each sheet.

For items 25 through 31, mention all education you have
received. Be sure to include seminars, workshops, training
programs, and vocational or adult education classes. As
mentioned in the Career America discussion, how you specify
your major field of study is key in applying for a rating. For
some occupations, positions are not limited to a specific major
but may require a certain number of course credits. And unless
you designate those course credits as your major, your
application may be overlooked. As mentioned earlier, for
example. accountant/auditor positions may be filled by college
graduates with 24-semester hours of accounting credits whose
degrees are in related fields such as business administration,
finance, or public administration. So if you have 24-semester
hours in accounting but majored in finance, list accounting as
your major when you apply for a rating as an accountant/auditor.

When you list references for item 36, use names of people
who are not related to you who can attest to your working
ability. Ministers, doctors, local political leaders, or other
character references are of little help in commenting on how
you work.

Leave items 1, 48, and 49 blank on your master copy. Item
1 asks what job you are applying for; complete this block each
time you apply for a position. Items 48 and 49 are the
signature and date certification, and they must be signed in
ink on each application. You may wish to leave other items
blank on your master copy as well, especially in the section
marked Availability. This section asks questions regarding the
lowest pay you will accept, the geographic area where you wish
to work, and your willingness to travel. You won’t be forced to
accept a job that pays less than you would like or would
require you to move. On the other hand, you could eliminate
yourself from consideration for jobs that you might think about
under some circumstances if you fail to choose your responses

Your master copy will save you time because you won’t have
to start from scratch for every application you submit. But you
may need more than one master copy if you’re applying for
different kinds of jobs. Even if you apply for the same
positions in different agencies, you may find that agencies
place emphasis on different skills or abilities. You should get
a copy of the vacancy announcement for each job you apply for.
(See the next section for a discussion of vacancy
announcements.) You need to make sure each application you
submit reflects that you meet the qualifications required.

Finally, be sure to proof read your SF 171 carefully before
you apply for jobs. And don’t forget to fill in the items you
left blank on your master copy, including signing and dating
the application in ink.

Automated SF 171 software is available. According to OPM,
at least two private manufacturers have developed programs that
produce acceptable SF 171 applications. These are Federal
Research Service, Inc., and the Software Den, developers of
“Quick and Easy,” and “SF-171 Automated,” respectively. Contact
retail stores for more information.


Vacancy Announcements and Job Listings


Agencies advertise vacancies with brief statements of job
information called vacancy announcements or even briefer job
listings. Each announcement or listing includes the
job title, occupational series number, grade and pay levels,
application opening and closing dates (the period during which
applications are accepted), number of vacancies, job location,
announcement number, person to contact, phone number, and
agency name. Announcements, which may run a couple of pages,
also spell out specific job duties, both general and special
requirements, and application procedures. They even indicate
how important each required skill is.

There are many places to find announcements and job
listings, although no one place will have every announcement.
Regional OPM offices, Federal Job Information Centres, State
Job Service or Employment Security Offices, and personnel
offices of Federal agencies are all likely to have some
announcements. A more comprehensive list of jobs appears in a
commercially published magazine, Federal Career Opportunities
Listing. It is available at many libraries and at many of the
offices that have the announcements themselves.

Touch screen and automated computers, available at nearly
all Federal Job Information Centres, also provide vacancy
information. You can search these listings–called Federal Job
Opportunity Listings–by such criteria as occupational series,
job title, or geographic location. The computerised lists are
updated at least monthly. They are available at State
employment service offices and many college placement offices,
as well as through the computers at the Job Information

Electronic bulletin boards allow you to download job
listings on your personal computer. OPM’s bulletin board is
free (except for the price of the phone call). You can access
it by dialling (912) 757-3100 via a modem. There are also six
OPM regional bulletin boards.

If you have found only a listing and not the announcement
itself, contact the agency advertising the opening, asking that
the announcement be sent to you.

For many vacancies, applicants are given only 1 or 2 weeks
to submit forms. Be advised that the closing date generally is
the day your paperwork must reach the hiring authority, not the
date materials must be post marked by.


Applying to Agencies


Because not all jobs are listed in any one place, you
should plan to contact agencies on your own. Each agency’s
personnel office has the most up-to-date information on its
needs and hiring procedures.

You can start your search with a check of U.S. Government
listings in the blue pages of the phone book. Call the agencies
you think are likely to hire for your occupation. Of course,
not every occupation is employed by every Federal agency. On
the other hand, you might be surprised at the range of jobs
within an agency. For example, you know the Army Corps of
Engineers hires engineers, but it employs many other kinds of
workers as well. Don’t assume that all educators work for the
Department of Education or that every librarian is employed by
the Library of Congress. Education majors are employed by the
Departments of Defence, Interior, Justice, Agriculture,
Transportation, and Treasury, among others. Library science
majors work in such offices as the Executive Office of the
President, Government Printing Office, and Patent and Trademark
Office–not to mention the departmental libraries throughout
the Government.

Look over the table beginning on page 18. It gives the
number of workers in different occupations employed by the
largest agencies. These are the places to begin your job hunt
for these positions.

Consider visiting Government offices in person to ask
about openings. In some Federal buildings, you won’t be allowed
past the guard desk (though there might be a drop off box for
applications). But in other offices, especially in smaller
cities, you might get a chance to meet with someone. Each
personal contact you make increases the probability of your
getting hired. After all, often the only way you find out about
a vacancy is if you’re in the right place at the right time.

You might also learn about openings for positions other
than the one you’re looking for, including clerical and
technical jobs. Don’t eliminate these outright just because the
starting salaries are below those usually offered to college
graduates. You may think you’re overqualified for some jobs,
but they may be good stepping stones to your desired career.
Mobility is often easier from within, where you learn more
about the agency and have more access to job vacancy
information. Many agencies also offer training programs for
employees, which can help you gain experience and advance to
more responsible positions. Before making a commitment, check
out the situation at the agency you are considering working


Exceptions, Exceptions


Not all occupations require that you get on an OPM
register. In fact, for some occupations, such as those in
public safety, you apply directly to the hiring agencies. OPM
also grants special authority to some agencies that allows them
to hire applicants without prior referral from a register.
These special authorities are called delegated case examining,
shared case examining, and direct hire authority. There are
also excepted positions and agencies that OPM has nothing to do

Delegated case examining permits agencies to advertise,
evaluate, and hire applicants independently of OPM. In shared
case examining, an agency recruits and screens applications
before sending them to OPM for final evaluation; OPM then sends
a list of the best qualified candidates back to the agency, and
the agency makes its selection. Direct hire authority is
similar to delegated case examining but applies only to
occupations for which shortages exist.

Public safety occupations, which include air traffic
controller–deputy U.S. marshal, treasury enforcement agent,
and U.S. park police officer–are filled by delegated
examining. You must apply directly to an agency to take a
written test for one of these occupations. Delegated examining
allows the agencies to develop and give their own tests, as
well as evaluate applicants and set hiring standards. Treasury
enforcement agents, for example, cannot be older than 37 at the
time they are hired. The screening process also includes a
series of interviews, a polygraph test, background
investigation, and drug testing.

Delegated or shared case examining is used to fill most
ACWA group 7 occupations. For public safety and group 7
occupations, there is no national register; evaluation methods
vary by region and agency. Some agencies accept applications
continually and maintain registers to fill openings as they
occur. But most accept applications only when they have
vacancies for these positions.

OPM grants direct hire authority to agencies for hiring in
occupations for which shortages exist. This authority varies by
location, occupation, and agency. To find out which agencies
have the authority for which jobs, contact your nearest OPM
office or Federal Job Information Centre. Ask for a list of
agencies that have direct hire authority for your field. You
can then contact the personnel offices of the agencies on the
list to find out about their application procedures. When you
call, ask to speak to someone who handles entry-level hiring in
your field. If no phone numbers are given on the list of
agencies, check the U.S. Government listings in your phone
book’s blue pages.

Exceptions to the merit system have been established over
the years by law, executive order, and regulation. OPM is not
involved in any way with the hiring of people for these
occupations and agencies.

The excepted positions include the following:
* Doctors, dentists, and nurses in the Department of
Medicine and Surgery of the Department of Veterans

* Scientists and engineers in the National Science

* Attorneys,

* Chaplains,

* Teachers and many other workers overseas,

* Drug enforcement agents doing undercover work,

* Part-time workers in isolated areas,

* Many seasonal workers.

The excepted agencies include such large, well known ones
as the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as
several lesser known or smaller agencies. In some agencies,
certain occupations are excepted, such as health occupations in
the Department of Veterans Affairs and foreign service
occupations in the Department of State. Excepted agencies set
their own hiring procedures. The names and addresses of some
excepted agencies are listed in the “For More Information”
section at the end of this article.


Don’t Give Up


Federal hiring procedures are constantly changing. but
each agency’s personnel office should have the most up-to-date
information. If there is a best way to look for a Government
job, it is to try every method you can for getting a foot in
the door. Know your own qualifications and make sure you meet
the requirements for getting hired. Visit as many agencies as
you can and find out if they’re hiring. Leave copies of your
SF 171 if possible, even if they’re not accepting applications
for a specific opening. Keep adapting your strategies to the
ones that seem to work best.

And never underestimate the power of your personal
network. Ask family members and friends about opportunities
that crop up in their offices. Talk to people you know who work
for the Government and find out what they do. Meet with people
who may have lots of contacts, such as your college professors,
and talk to the people they know. Networking is an important
tool in the vast Federal work force.

Above all, be flexible. No matter where you look for a
job, you can expect setbacks along the way. You’re guaranteed
to get the run around more than once, but don’t get discouraged.
If you are qualified, your persistence will pay off.


For More Information


Reading this article is just the start of your Federal job
hunt. Now you’re ready to move on. Below is a list of resources
to provide you with specific information about tests, job
vacancies, and application procedures.

OPM publishes the Federal Career Director, containing
general employment and special hiring program information,
profiles of Federal agencies, and an index of college majors.
You can find the Directory at libraries, OPM offices, and
Federal Job Information centres. OPM also publishes brochures
on topics ranging from the Federal Cooperative Education
Program to the summer Employment Program. To receive them,

Career Entry Group
1900 E Street NW.
Washington, DC 20415

To receive Qualifications Information Statements for ACWA
positions and information about job vacancies, special hiring
programs, salaries, and benefits, call the Career America
Connection, (912) 757-3000. You can call this automated message
service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Material requested by
telephone is usually mailed within 24 hours. Or, write

Office of Personnel Management
Staffing Service Centre
P.O. Box 9800
Macon. GA 31298-2699

You can also visit any OPM office or Federal Job
Information Centre.

If you live in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, call
the Washington Area Service Centre’s automated phone system at
(202) 606-2700 for testing schedules and application materials.
The Office of Washington Examining Services schedules most
tests on a walk-in basis, and the automated message gives the
schedule. You can also follow the instructions on the message
to receive the sample questions and Form B for the group for
which you would like to take a test.

For exams in groups 1 and 2, and for exams in all groups
in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,
contact the OPM office in those regions for information and
applications. Positions are filled locally, and you may have to
file separate applications in each area you want to work.

Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) numbers are also
available in each region. They are listed on information sheets
available through OPM’s Federal Job Information Centres.

If you have a personal computer, modem, communications
software, and telephone line, you can access the Federal Job
Opportunities Bulletin Board, (912) 757-3100. Information about
examinations currently open and vacancy announcements
nation wide can be scanned on line or downloaded to your
computer. Although not as comprehensive, OPM regional bulletin
boards are available in six areas. They, are

(202) 606-1113 Washington, DC, area

(404) 730-2370 South Eastern States

(215) 580-2216 North Eastern States

(313) 226-4423 North Central States

(214) 767-0316 Mountain and South Western States

(818) 575-6521 Western States

Many agencies also publish information about themselves
and occupations that are especially important to them. Contact
agencies directly to receive these brochures.


The Largest Agencies


The following executive departments and independent
agencies employ the great majority of Federal workers.

Agriculture Department
Office of Personnel, Room SM-7
12th Street and Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20250-9650

Air Force Department
The Pentagon. Room 5E871
Washington, DC 20330

Army Department
Hoffman Civilian Personnel Office
Hoffman Building II, Room 1S39
200 Stovall Street
Attention: ANCP-HPR
Alexandria, VA 22332-0800

Commerce Department
Office of the Secretary
14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Room 5001
Washington, DC 20230

Defence Logistics Agency
Staff Director, Civilian Personnel
Cameron Station
Alexandria, VA 22304-6100

Education Department
Personnel Office, Room 1156
400 Maryland Avenue SW.
Mail Box 4645
Washington, DC 20202

Energy Department
Office of Personnel
Forrestal Employment Branch AD114.2
1000 Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20585

Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street SW.
Washington, DC 20460

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Room G-4000
550 17th Street NW.
Washington, DC 20429-9990

General Services Administration
18th and F Streets NW.
Washington, DC 20405

Health and Human Services Department
Office of the Secretary Personnel Office
Cohen Building, Room 1037
330 Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20201

Housing and Urban Development Department
Employment Office
Room 2258
451 7th Street SW.
Washington, DC 20410

Interior Department
Personnel Office
Office of the Secretary
Room 5456
1849 C Street NW.
Washington, DC 20240

Labour Department
Frances Perkins Building
Room C5516
200 Constitution Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20210

Justice Department
Personnel Office
Room 603
633 Indiana Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20531

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Room 5017 FOB6
400 Maryland Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20546

Navy Department
Secretariat/Hq. Civilian
Civilian Personnel Branch
Pentagon Division, Room 4D-434
Washington, DC 20350-1000

Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street NW.
Room 1447
Washington, DC 20415

Small Business Administration
Personnel Office
409 Third Street, SW., Suite 4200
Washington, DC. 20416

Smithsonian Institution
955 L’Enfant Plaza, SW., Suite 2100
Washington, DC 20560

State Department
(Civil Service positions)
Employment Information Office
Room 2819
22nd and D Streets NW.
Washington, DC 20520

Transportation Department
Central Employment Information M-18.1
Room 9113
400 7th Street SW.
Washington, DC 20590

Treasury Department
Departmental Offices
Personnel Resources, Room 1318
Main Treasury Building
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20220

Veterans affairs Department
810 Vermont Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20420


Excepted Agencies


The following is a partial list of excepted agencies and
excepted occupations within agencies.

Agency for International Development
2401 E Street NW.
Room 1127
Washington, DC 20523

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20551

Central Intelligence Agency
Office of Personnel
P.O. Box 12727
Arlington, VA 22209-8727

Defence Intelligence Agency
Civilian Staffing Operations
Division (DPH-2)
3100 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-5322

Department of Veterans Affairs
(Health care occupations)
Veterans Health Services and Research Administration
Recruitment and Examining Division (O54E)
810 Vermont Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20420

Federal Bureau of Investigation
10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20535

National Security Agency
9800 Savage Road
Fort Meade, MD 20755-6000
Attention: M352

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Personnel
Washington, DC 20555

Postal Rate Commission
Administrative Office, Suite 300
1333 H Street NW.
Washington, DC 20268-0001

Tennessee Valley Authority
Employment Services, ET 5C 50P-K
400 West Summit Hill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37902

State Department
(Foreign Service positions)
Recruitment Division
P.O. Box 9317
Rosslyn Station
Arlington, VA 22209


The Other Branches of the Federal Government


The Judicial Branch
(except the Administrative Office of the United States Courts
and the United States Claims Court)
Personnel Office
United States Supreme Court Building
One First Street NE.
Washington, DC 20543

The Legislative Branch
(including senators’ and representatives’ offices, Library of
Congress, and the Capitol) For inquiries about employment at the
House, Senate, or Capitol, contact either the House or Senate.

U.S. House of Representatives
Placement Office
Washington, DC 20515

U.S. Senate
Placement Office
SH-142B Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510

General Accounting Office
Office of Recruitment
Room 1050
441 G Street NW.
Washington, DC 20548

The Library of Congress
Employment Office, LM-107
James Madison Memorial Building
101 Independence Avenue SE.
Washington, DC 20540


Who Is Being Hired by the Federal Government —
The Word from OPM


The kinds of workers hired by the Federal Government
reflect the kind of work it has to do. According to Civil
Service 2000, developed for the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), Federal jobs are much more likely to be
white-collar and professional/administrative than those in the
economy as a whole.

Among Federal workers, the share of professional,
administrative, technical, and management-related jobs is about
48 percent. nearly twice the rate for the labour force as a
whole. Blue-collar jobs make up only about 19 percent of the
Federal work force, compared to 28 percent for the country as a
whole. And marketing and sales jobs, which account for more
than 10 percent of the national labour force, are almost
entirely missing from the Federal job mix, making up a
minuscule one-half of 1 percent.

Because of their job requirements, Federal workers have
higher language and math skills, on average, than does the
labour force as a whole. For example, some 16 percent of all
Federal jobs–more than three times the national rate–require
employees to read scientific or technical journals, financial
reports, legal documents, or other materials. Algebra,
statistics, trigonometry, and calculus are also required for a
large proportion of Federal jobs. About 31 percent of Federal
workers are college graduates, compared with less than 25
percent for the labour force as a whole.

The majority of Federal workers are in the competitive
service, but large numbers are in excepted agencies or
occupations, as explained in the article, and even larger
numbers work for the Postal Service. (See chart 1.) These
workers are employed throughout the country and around the
world, although about 12 percent of the jobs are in or near the

Competition for jobs is extremely keen. Best bets for
Federal employment are found among the hard sciences, financial
management, health occupations, and some engineering
specialities. Chart 3 shows which agencies hired the largest
numbers of college graduates in fiscal 1992. OOChart, on page
40, shows the occupations of the college graduates hired.

In general, the Federal Government does very little hiring
at salaries above $40,000. In 1987. for example, only 3,000
full-time workers were hired at that level. In contrast, 10
percent of the people in the entry-level professional and
administrative positions (at grades GS-5 through GS-8) were new
hires that year.

Over the next decade, Federal employment, especially in
the Defence Department, may decline. Nevertheless, the number
of workers in some occupations will increase. Likely areas of
growth are health: law: contract, procurement, and management:
and Internal Revenue Service agent.

Chart 1.

Distribution of Federal Civilian Employment by Service,
January 1993

Chart 2.

Distribution of Federal Civilian Employment by Geographic Area,
January 1993?

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