Posted on Friday, 11th January 2019 by

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Certain government agencies are currently shut down because Congress hasn’t passed a budget to fund them.  Instead of working together for the good of the country politicians are focusing on how best to support their party and keep their jobs!  Just one more reason to support term limits for our Congressional representatives.

This may take some time to resolve, hopefully before more suffer. The national emergency at our borders has caused a rift between the parties and in the interim others suffer on both sides of the border, certain federal services are unavailable, and many federal workers are doing without until back pay arrives.

Those seeking federal employment may have to wait for some vacancies to be filled. It all depends on the agency and whether or not their human resource staff is impacted. Many jobs may be placed on a temporary hold until Congress acts.  If a position is delayed, now is the time to work on your federal style resume. Don’t get disillusioned, keep searching for vacancies and be ready to apply when you locate them.

Job Hunting is a Process

The news media blows the Shutdown out of proportion. They sidestep the border crisis and the petty maneuvers of politicians and parties. First, only non-essential services are unavailable and the majority of federal workers will get paid and on time. Social Security and Federal annuity checks are being sent out and Medicare isn’t impacted. All critical services are available as this drags on.  

I recently heard a report on one of the major news services saying that federal workers would soon abandon their jobs for private sector ones. I don’t believe federal employees would give their generous benefits up of 13 paid sick days each year, up to a 5-week vacation, affordable healthcare options, and generous annuity including a 401k retirement plan with a 5 percent match.

About 800,000 federal employees are furloughed until Congress acts, which could be awhile. Furloughed employees have always received retroactive pay in the past and consequently receive extended vacation time for the duration of the shutdown. With this furlough, many received an extended Christmas and New Year holiday break.

Non-essential new hires and those early on in their federal careers are most impacted. They may not have sufficient funds to carry them over until backpay arrives. Even though federal employment is a safe haven for most, employees need to be aware of the fact that they too must be prepared for when political conflicts result in Congressional inaction. Furloughed workers may have to work somewhere on the side or apply for unemployment during the shutdown. Workers that are furloughed can apply for unemployment however they will have to pay it back after receiving backpay.

I was furloughed several times for short periods during my 35-year government career and actually enjoyed the additional paid time off. I believe many federal employees feel the same. Anytime you get more free time to spend with family and friends is a bonus.  Those deemed critical often look with envy at the federal employees that were sent home, I know this from first hand experience. When I was walking out the door, during my first government shutdown, I was on staff and considered non-essential. The essential workers called me a lucky SOB.

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages

Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Jobs, Job Vacancies, Resumes / KSAs

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Posted on Tuesday, 1st January 2019 by

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Given that the federal government has been and will be facing a myriad of challenges, many of these agencies are adopting their own versions of flexibility, and defining them as such. Employees, as well, are becoming more vigilant and proactive in asking for a variety of flexibilities that will afford them a better work life balance. Whether these include telecommuting, social media network engagements, skills acquisition and/or time for new training or technology, there are many requests now surfacing to supervisors for consideration.

As talent becomes an even more focused endeavor for many of these organizations, so too does the flexibilities add to the attractiveness of government positions. Senior leaders across the intelligence community, specifically, are working collaboratively to modernize their workforce so that they can stay engaged with these requests, contemplate new opportunities and define efforts that help increase work/life balances.

Many leaders have waited a long time for flexible policies, guidance and cost considerations surrounding their workforce. They are waiting no longer. The IRS, for example has opened up this door for their employees by implementing a social media network where they can develop skills, talk about goals and share information on their career aspirations.

With their new employee “buddy” program, as well as an emerging leader program, the ability to learn and acquire critical or new skill sets has positioned their employees for advancement and career growth. This opportunity has helped the workforce become more productive, efficient and smarter in their endeavors. Connections to colleagues and others provide the ability and flexibility needed to obtain critical knowledge, skills and abilities that they may have been lacking; unable to obtain or wait for hands-on formal training, this option has been a significant success.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also seeking holistic approaches to be able to address the flexibility needs of their employees across the globe. They are using technology to increase workforce safety and implementing automation through robotics and artificial intelligence initiatives to enhance border security.

Their workforce has embraced changes and look forward to additional opportunities that enhance their mission, keep them safe, and increase their efficiency and flexibilities. The DHS is not stopping there; they are including this workforce strategy into their business processes and procedures as well to enhance safety, security and strengthen their overall administration.

The new skills learned through these flexibility initiatives can help employees improve competencies. Employees will be able to showcase their enhanced productivity and knowledge on their federal resume for future promotions or to obtain positions with greater responsibility.

Modernizing the workforce involves embracing them; listening to their suggestions, making positive change and managing effectively to ensure success. Flexibility, open mindedness and dedication are all critical components across organizations like the federal government that enable these to take place. Talent is abound, abroad and available to help pave the way for flexible, effective talent management, performance and production. Sustainable solutions for a prosperous work/life balance are right in front of our eyes; by enabling our employees, we empower, we grow, and we create balance for all. The new skills learned through these new flexibilities will help you enhance your federal resume and possibly lead to is process will

Reference:

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in Uncategorized

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Posted on Sunday, 18th November 2018 by

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Cyber security employment is expected to increase dramatically for the foreseeable future due to concerns about cyber security crimes and the war against terror. These concerns have spurred the demand for cyber security professionals across the board and the need to fast track the recruiting process.

Agencies are now able to more easily identify, recruit and retain cyber security professionals that are highly qualified. With guidance from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), roles and responsibilities have been clearly identified and explained in accordance with an HR/OPM memo dated October 15, 2018. In addition, many positions will fall within the administrative work ‘standard’ of information technology group 2200. A title of “IT cyber security specialist” for example, within the 2210 series of management position listings, will include cyber work.

Organizations are now able to include ‘cyber security’ as a designated title for other occupations that perform this type of work so it helps them to recruit and meet mission goals and objectives more easily. With a myriad of laws, orders, strategies and frameworks, OPM has been able to work with other agencies, Chief Information Officers, and other stakeholders to understand the need for a comprehensive and robust cyber workforce and streamline the guidance.

Definitions of cyber security positions have been challenging and organizations like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have struggled to place identifiers, markers and codes for required positions; OPM has made a lot of this guesswork easy with new clarification and identifications. Given that cyber security is multi-faceted, and on the cutting edge of technology, the guidance had to be steadfast and sustainable; in addition, it had to co-exist with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions.

Qualifications include following traditional procedures for ranking, and individual organizations who can determine whether or not additional knowledge, skills and abilities are required and/or competencies should be added as part of their cyber security standard position.

Specific certifications as well must be agency-implemented, as required and become part of the organization’s selection criteria. Finally, organizations must continue to define their factors for ranking and quality of applicant selection for their developing cyber workforce. Subject matter experts in these organizations can use the guidance, to include general and technical competencies set forth by OPM to make this happen by reviewing specific duties, tasks, and competencies required for cyber positions.

These criteria will then serve as the foundation for job analysis and the cyber security workforce build out. Applicants will also be expected to portray creative and strategic thinking, problem solving, negotiations and customer service skills as key soft skill competencies for cyber security professionals. Technical skills, for example, may include computer forensics, surveillance or counter-intelligence for certain agencies.

If you are interested in cyber security / intelligence positions now is a good time to start your job search. Seek out relevant job announcements and apply for all positions that you qualify for to improve your changes of employment.

Reference:

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Tuesday, 6th November 2018 by

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STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is an applied approach to a curriculum focusing on these four discipline areas. The importance of these areas in our future, and specifically as part of our government, are considered strategic. Understanding how the world works requires new knowledge, which in turn fosters curiosity; STEM satisfies this quest for knowledge and prepares us for the future. STEM Skills that are acquired include numbers, analysis, empirical data and more. Integrated into every part of our lives, STEM is the foundation for which we learn about ourselves, our environment, and our future.

With the changing world of technology and the explosion of Information Technology, every industry is impacted, and therefore, the need for qualified mathematicians, scientists, engineers and those in the technical areas are expected to fulfill these critical work roles of our future. Since STEM focuses on the critical ways in which we can understand, explore, and engage our world. Now and in the future, it is imperative that our state, local, and federal government, for example, hire these skilled workers in order to plan, implement and manage change that is necessary to meet the demands of security, technology, communication, and more, for protection, privacy and growth across the globe.

The need for STEM skills are diverse and vast. Given that these specific subjects are the very root of most of our corporation, industry, and government business across the globe, they are in high demand from employers. Consistent discovery, solution development, vulnerability discovery, mitigation, and innovation are just a few focus areas that are pertinent under the stem umbrella. Problem solving and technology, for example, will continue to challenge us as a nation; the more prepared we are with STEM knowledge, skills and abilities, the better.

In May of 2018, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued direct hire authority (DHA) for several STEM and cyber-security occupations. Given that the knowledge, skills, and ability to work in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and cyber-security career fields and occupations are in heavy demand by a variety of organizations and businesses due to mission critical functions and objectives.  OPM recognized this immediate need and made it easier for organizations to streamline efficiencies for recruitment initiatives.

Additionally, recently the Trump Administration offered a new pay system for STEM employees, which will also boost recruitment and retention efforts in these areas. The changes are the first in a focus on STEM along with new public and private sector partnerships in development. Given the prior year’s layers of red tape and regulations, the cumbersome STEM hiring process is now updated and more current with a focus on improving processes, hiring procedures, and job retention.

As part of the hiring process for managers, STEM criteria and a set of requirements are offered by OPM who are continually capturing additional survey information to further define position justifications; qualitative and quantitative data offer specific details that contribute to the hiring process, and challenges have been streamlined to foster recruitment along with incentives for both hiring and retention. See this link that offers additional contact information and activities surrounding the specifics of DHA:

With so many STEM career opportunities, occupations, there are ample references and links to support your search that include:

In conclusion, STEM is critical to our future; knowledge, curiosity, and preparation are key elements of STEM occupations and careers across the globe. Qualified employees with the knowledge, skills, and abilities in these critical areas will serve as the foundation for innovation, security, technology, and protection across the globe. Organizations, and specifically our state, local, and federal government are developing and strengthening critical partnerships to work with private industry, academia, and military to ensure STEM training is robust and widely available. In order to meet the demands of our changing nation, STEM skills, along with innovation and technology are critical to our success; investment in the STEM area is a worthy return on investment for any and all organizations.

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Job Qualifications, Student jobs

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Posted on Tuesday, 16th October 2018 by

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Under the United States Constitution, every ten years, the federal government is obligated to count its population. The United States Census Bureau counts every single resident of the country, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.

This process is very important from a social, administrative, and political perspective. The data collected during the census is used to determine how many seats each state has in the United State House of Representatives. Furthermore, the same data is used for calculating the amount of federal funds sent to local communities for various reasons – federal aid programs, schools, social programs, and so on. The next census, which will take place in 2020, is especially important because the population is growing in both numbers and diversity. For this process to happen, the government has opened millions of temporary job positions. Here is what you need to know about federal careers in the 2020 census recruiting.

 

2020 Census

How Does the United States Census Work?

Before delving into the main subject of the article, it is important to understand the process behind the United States Census and how it works. In a country as large as the United States, counting each single resident can be a daunting task from a logistical standpoint.

Adding to the difficulty of the process is the fact that the constitutional article mandating the census was introduced over 200 years ago, in 1790, back when the United States had a population of barely 4 million people. Doing the math reveals that in 2010, when the census recorded 308.7 million people, the country had 79 times as many residents as it did in 1790.

But the role of the census extends beyond counting how many seats each state gets allotted in the House of Representatives. It is a valuable tool that can be used to track the shifting demographics of America – like how many people live in urban vs. rural areas, how many people have moved to and away from the cities, how many children live on average in each household, and so on and so forth.

These statistics can be used by the government to introduce reforms that aid certain struggling communities, social welfare programs, and to design public transportation systems. Furthermore, private organizations (real estate companies, hospitals) use the census data to plan housing developments and hospital expansions.

As you can see, the census is a very important process, a reason for which the government hires millions of temporary employees to aid this process. However, not all jobs are temporary, as they are hiring permanent employees as well. Here is what you should know about this.

Why They Need So Many Employees

The shifting demographics as well as the changes in the economic sector have affected the Census Bureau’s recruitment pool in significant ways. Because fewer people are looking for work now than they were in 2010, the Census Bureau has upped the pay rates and simplified the online application process. However, before hiring, the Bureau needs to create a recruitment pool. To apply online, simply access their official website; the application takes about 30 minutes to complete.

How the Census Bureau Hires Employees

The changing demographics and social norms meant that the Bureau had to adapt to the times. Consequently, the Census Bureau has revamped its recruiting strategies to reach as many interested people as possible. These strategies include:

  • Encouraging the media to cover census-related news stories;
  • Using social much to a larger degree than 2010, when the last census took place;
  • Collaborating and partnering with influential local organizations to spread the word about census jobs;
  • Setting up booths in panels at public events such as local markets, job fairs, conventions, fairs in order to reach as many people as possible;

Census Careers

Generally speaking, there are two types of census jobs: regional and bureau. Regional offices conduct surveys continuously, instead of just every 10 years, in order to supply the government with important statistics related to the economy, shifting demographics, and the people. Regional Offices hire field workers that have a keen knowledge of their respective community and how it has evolved over time.

Field workers are the backbone of the whole censusing process as they are the ones interviewing people and asking relevant questions about the community. They go from door to door to verify residential addresses in their respective communities before the 2020 census is mailed, and then return to the streets to interview any individuals who have not had the chance to respond to the census mailing for various reasons.

Census takers have to ask difficult questions that some people might deem invasive, which is why the Bureau makes sure that the interviewers have a keen knowledge of the communities they will be conducting the interviews in. The questions range around the individual’s ethnic background, income, place of birth, and marital status. The data obtained from these questions help the federal government make policy and distribute budgets.

To be eligible for the job of census taker, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • The ability to speak, read, and write in English;
  • Pass a background check;
  • Complete four days of training;
  • Have a valid social security card;
  • Pass a test (more on that below);
  • Have a valid driver’s license;
  • Be a U.S citizen, a legal permanent resident, or a noncitizen that has a work visa and is bilingual.

The test itself contains 28 multiple-choice questions relevant to the position of census taker and lasts about 30 minutes. The test’s purpose is to asses a candidate’s ability to follow a map, record information, do simple arithmetic and perform clerical tasks such as alphabetizing.

The test is not very difficult, but it might be challenging to some because it assesses skills that many people do not use on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, some states might have a different testing procedure, so make sure to consult your local census office for more information.

As for the pay and working hours, field employees work between 20 and 40 hours per week, for a duration between 5 and 10 weeks. Field workers are paid on a weekly basis. While the federal government covers the costs associated with training and travel, census takers must be open to a flexible schedule – meaning working weekends, evenings, and in drastic weather conditions. The pay is above the minimum wage, and it varies from location to location.

Permanent Jobs

But regional offices are also searching for full-time corporate employees in offices throughout the country. The positions include, but are not limited to:

  • IT staff. IT responsibilities vary from maintaining the database, maintaining the digital infrastructure, aiding employees by offering onsite technical support. It requires experience in the field of tech support. Some IT staff members are focusing on automating certain census processes to reduce the workload of field workers and other employees. (Sample IT Federal Resume)
  • Administrative This department handles all everything logistics-related from handing out tasks and organizing people in teams to coordinating field workers. Some prior administrative and managerial experience is required.
  • Clerical staff. Everything related to permits and documents is handled by this department.
  • Survey statisticians. This department focuses on entering the surveys in the database, creating charts, calculating parameters and everything related to statistics. The job requires experience in statistics and related software. (Typically in the GS-1530 Statistician Series)

Conclusion

The census is an important tool of the federal government which can be used to set the budget, create policy, and distribute welfare and social programs in the areas that need it the most. Due to the sheer scale of the process and the country’s big population, the federal government needs to mobilize millions of citizens for it. If you are interested in either a part-time or a permanent position in the Census Bureau, read through our article and you will get all the information that you need.

Scott Lawson is an HR manager devoted to his career. During his 5-year work span Scott developed a taste for writing and helping others. This materialized into a website called JobApplicationWorld, that aims to help people tackle the hiring process.

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages

Posted in Applying For Jobs, Civil Service Tests, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Monday, 15th October 2018 by

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Writers and editors include positions that involve writing and editing materials, such as reports, regulations, articles, newsletters, magazines, news releases, training materials, brochures, interpretive handbooks, pamphlets, guidebooks, scholarly works, reference works, speeches, or scripts. The work requires the acquisition of information on a variety of subjects in the course of completing assignments. The work requires the development, analysis, and selection of appropriate information and presentation of the information in a form and at a level suitable for the intended audience.

Government Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen to apply

The yearly salary for a GS-11 is $61,218.00 to 79,586.00 per year.

Duties

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through clean prose, strong research, and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the clearest language and the most appropriate phrasing.

Some writers and authors are self-employed or freelance writers and authors. They sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. They may be hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published only on the Internet, such as for digital news organizations or blogs.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Training

Writers and authors typically need to gain writing experience through on-the-job training. They may practice writing and work with more experienced writers and editors before their work is ready for publication.

Writers who want to write about a particular topic may need formal training or experience related to that topic.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Beginning writers and authors can get a start and put their name on work immediately by writing for small businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited because they usually do not have enough regular work.

Writers and authors can advance their careers further by building a reputation, taking on more complex writing assignments, and getting published in more prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and maintaining a track record of meeting deadlines are important for advancement.

Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

GS-1082 Writer-Editor

General qualifications excerpted from Job Announcement 18-2177-SE-BK-M

Responsibilities

The selectee serves as a professional writer-editor responsible for editing, writing, and formatting resident and nonresident training materials.  The selectee ensures material align with standards of style, formatting and lifecycle management. Prior to printing, all text and test material prepared by the branch must be reviewed for correct grammar, presentation, organization, clarity, conformance to standards, readability level, style, and suitability to audience by the writer-editor.

Job Prospects

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring demand for writers and authors with Web and multimedia experience.

Some experienced writers should find work in the public relations departments of corporations and nonprofit organizations. Self-employed or freelance writers and authors may find work with newspaper, magazine, or journal publishers, and some will write books.

Strong competition is expected for most job openings, given that many people are attracted to this occupation. Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be

Resources

Helpful Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Tuesday, 25th September 2018 by

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With the increasing cost of education and the challenges for recent graduates and parents, opportunities to reduce or eliminate college debt can be life changing. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average student may borrow up to $22,000 before graduation; approximately 280,000 of these individual borrowers default on their payments between years 3 and 5.

The newly established Loan Forgiveness Program set forth by the Department of Education enables public service employees, federal government, and military employees to reduce their federal student loans and/or apply for debt forgiveness after making only 120 payments. Called the PSLF, employees that owe more than then their annual salary can have thousands of dollars forgiven, and/or payments lowered. Being free of student debt loan is a life changing opportunity for many; the program is pretty simple to understand.

First, to qualify for loan forgiveness, you must owe more on your federal loans that you make in one year (income vs. debt requirement). Next, the loans must be ‘qualifying’, meaning that they must be federal to include: Stafford, FFEL, Perkins, etc. 120 payments through an income-based repayment plan must be made on time. Employers must be a qualified government organization to include military, state, local, tribal; some non-profits are also accepted. Employees must be full time workers (at least 30 hours per week) with said qualified employers. Finally, annual certification of personal information must be completed as part of the program requirements. The following link: Forgiveness Cancellation provides details on qualified employment, payment criteria, forms, application, and more to include answers to many common questions surrounding this program.

Congress members, however, are not eligible for this student loan repayment program as they are ineligible for public service loan forgiveness. However, Congressional staff are eligible with a $60,000 cap on loan forgiveness in the U.S. House of Representatives ($10,000 per year), as well as a $40,000 cap in the U.S. Senate at $6,000 per year.

There is also another student loan repayment program that federal employees can apply for today; $10,000 per year for up to six years can be obtained. For more details about this opportunity, please see the following link: Student Loan Payoff

References:

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Student jobs

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Posted on Sunday, 16th September 2018 by

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Despite a request to boost buyout amounts (government-wide) to $40,000, President Trump signed a new bill into law recently that will ensure non-defense agency amounts are maintained at $25,000. This will be the third year that Congress has consistently rejected such a request; the $25,000 threshold was established early in the Clinton Administration. Additionally, the bill will offer a 2.6% raise in January for military personnel, exceeding federal employee pay; discussions are still ongoing for a federal employee pay raise percentage. This pay increase represents the largest for military in almost nine years, resulting in approximately $670 more per year for junior enlisted troops and about $1300 additional for senior enlisted and junior officers.

The bill also encompasses authority for DoD (Dept. of Defense) to direct hire for competitive service positions. It also amends Chapter 99 of Title 5 of the United States Code provisioning for the Secretary of Defense to expedite hiring. This impacts personnel in civilian positions to include: cyber security, maintenance, acquisition, science, engineering and technology and has an expiration date of 30 September 2025. As part of this bill, a new section for recruitment is included that impacts graduates; special hiring authorities for occupations in high demand and flexibility to hire college students and graduates are among the components of this new measure. Agencies would be required to continue to follow the merit system principles. The new opportunities could make up no more than 15% of similar jobs filled in the previous year. Temporary appointments would also be available although full time, permanent hiring can be offered after graduation. In order to address security clearances for positions that are mission-critical, timelines for security reviews will be identified at 15 days for Secret positions and 45 days for Top Secret positions.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the responsible authority for developing and managing regulations surrounding laws and policies; annual reports would be required by agencies. OPM would no longer be required to approve Pentagon Senior Executive Service appointments; the Defense secretary would have this authority although it would be regulated at 50 appointments per year with a sunset date of two years.

Finally, this bill repeals a reduction in per diem expenses for DoD federal employees which will cause them to look to subsidizing costs for long-term temporary duty assignments. As part of this authority, the hiring process will then be expedited, making the Department of Defense a more competitive employer. DoD will then obtain more flexibility and timeliness when it comes to job offers for qualified applicants. For pay, the overtime rate, for example for those Department of Navy employees working dockside on a forward deployed aircraft carrier in Japan will be extended.

References:

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Wednesday, 29th August 2018 by

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I would like to introduce John Guenther whom I have known for several years. He sings in our church choir and is an avid amateur blacksmith. While in the federal government he was an aerospace engineer (GS-0861) and upon retiring was a program manager (GS-0301). Here is John’s story:

  1. Why did you choose to work for the federal government?

When searching for a job after graduation in 1970, I had applied with the Department of the Army, Aviation Systems Command in St. Louis, MO near where I lived.  Three years later after working elsewhere, I was interviewed and offered a position with the Army Aviation Systems Command that had offered higher pay and benefits than I had at the time (50% higher). It also allowed me to use more of my education.

  1. What was your degree in Engineering, and what school did you attend? 

During high school, being good in math and science I became interested in aircraft, rockets, and the space program. I chose to go to Parks College/St. Louis University because it offered a degree in aerospace engineering, was close to home saving living expense costs, and offered a trimester program that allowed graduation in less than four years. I graduated in December of 1970 with a BS in aerospace engineering.

  1. What was your very first job as a federal employee and where did you work?

I was hired as an aerospace engineer in the Maintenance Engineering Directorate, in an office that examined spare parts and supporting data to determine if the parts could be manufactured by more than one source. The intent was to increase competition and thus reduce cost of spare parts. I later moved to a systems office providing engineering support of fielded systems, including oversight of modifications to improve the aircraft operations and capabilities.

  1. What year did you start in the federal government? 

After working for an IL county highway department for several years, I was contacted by the Department of the Army, Aviation Systems Command, and interviewed for several positions. I was hired and started in November 1973 (got married in May 1973) and started in the Aviation Maintenance Engineering Directorate supporting the armies rotary wing aircraft fleets.

Over the years, I supported a foreign military sales program, development of the Black hawk, and later the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. I moved into program management in 1980 working in several programs. I eventually became the technical and business chief of the SAcout Attack Project Office. During the next several years, I served as acting project/program manager. In the late 1990’s I completed a MS in Engineering Management (Univ MO). During this time frame, Program offices were placed under a new management structure – Program Executive Office (PEO).

In 1997, as result of base realignment, the Aviation programs and supporting organizations in St Louis were relocated to Redstone Arsenal, AL, and were merged with the Missile organization to form a new Aviation Missile Command in 1997.  Not long after I was named the deputy project manager for Scout Attack programs (AH-1/OH-58 and eventually the UH-1 as well). This position included management of a variety of personnel including budget, contracting, logistics, and engineering. Over the next ten years, I again served as acting PM on several occasions.

  1. What was your last job in the federal government?

I ended my career as the deputy program manager for Scout Attack Aircraft, managing the AH-1 Cobra which we retired from service, UH-1 Hueys which were being retired as well, and the OH-58 Kiowa and Kiowa Warrior fleet which was deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Additionally, I supported several foreign military sales cases. The position required overseeing the entire program, engineering, logistics, financial, and personnel, along with providing briefings to higher level organizations justifying budget requests and plans.

  1. What year did you retire from the federal government?

After 34 years of service, I retired in 2007. My decision to retire was based upon being eligible both in age, years of service, and feeling that the job was no longer rewarding.  This happens to everyone at some point and the causes are unique to everyone. When that time comes or is on the horizon, it’s time to plan to retire.

  1. What was the most rewarding part of being a federal employee?

As result of my organizations efforts, part of the Kiowa Warrior fleet was deployed in desert storm and maintained 100% readiness and availability while operating in combat in Iraq. No other fleet came close.

  1. As a retiree has it been what you expected?

Retirement has been much busier than I expected. Generally, I have been busy every day.

  1. Do you wish you were still working?

I do not miss going to work everyday, but I do miss my co-workers, some of whom I still stay in contact with.

  1. What do you like best about being retired?

Being retired, I enjoy the freedom to choose what I will be involved in. Since I was already an amateur Blacksmith, I have been in the shop doing projects that keep my mind active. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed singing and playing music, essentially, I am engaged with the artistic side of my capabilities which is relaxing.

  1. Regarding being an amateur black smith, please elaborate more your hobby, how and why you got started, how long you have been involved, and what are you currently working on. 

I became involved in Blacksmithing as a hobby not long after moving to Alabama. My youngest son, and I attended an event at the Burritt Museum on Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville where a co-worker and older gentleman were demonstrating blacksmithing. This was on Saturday and they invited us to a meeting in Athens, AL where we lived. At that meeting, we joined the Alabama Forge Council. Since then I have taken classes and workshops learning blacksmithing. Having an artistic side, I’ve dabbled in many different artistic crafts as well as music, but none of the crafts has been as challenging and rewarding as blacksmithing. Since I have learned a lot, I’m now “passing along” to others, the blacksmiths craft. It’s always rewarding to take a piece of steel (Sometimes copper) and create useful and pleasing things.

  1. What advice would you give to someone that is ready to retire or is already retired?

If someone is considering retiring, they should look at several things. First, are you enjoying your job? Or does it look like the job is becoming un-enjoyable? Second, are you eligible to retire? Third, will your retirement income allow you to live without the need to go back to work? Bottom Line, If the job isn’t enjoyable, or is headed that way, and you are eligible to retire, and can afford it, Retire!  Consider a job after retiring if you need something to do or need added income. There are many activities including volunteering that can keep you busy after retirement!

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Interviews

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Posted on Sunday, 19th August 2018 by

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If you are a current employee looking for a change, or perhaps interested in federal employment, don’t let politics impact your decision. Even though total federal employment is expected to decrease in the near future, many opportunities still exist as agencies must recruit highly skilled workers to replace those who retire or move on to other jobs. Look for the facts; research what interests you, and what is best for you in that career field.  There are many opportunities in both contracting work and federal employment.  By doing a little bit of research, keeping up with the federal news, as well as networking with peers and colleagues, discovering opportunities can be easy.

Reductions in hiring are taking place across the federal workforce, and much of it is due to a requirement to reduce government spending. From December 2016 through March of 2018, federal employment has decreased minimally from 2,093,868 to 2,075,006. specifically, there are just 18,862 fewer workers today than what was on board in December of 2016.

“The Department of State is down 9.28 percent, Education is down 12.94 percent, Labor is down 8.25 percent, and Housing and Urban Development is down 5.97 percent.  Homeland Security up 3.72 percent (mostly disaster recovery workers in the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Veterans Affairs is up 1.73 percent. The Small Business Administration is up by 54 percent, also due to temporary employees required for disaster recovery work​” (Neal, 2018).  The agencies that are hiring made up for most of the losses in other agencies. Congress can do very little since they do not make the rules when it comes to hiring and spending in the executive branch.

There have also been modest staffing decreases in: Labor, Energy, Justice, Education, Housing, Transportation, and the Treasury.  There have also been modest increases in Commerce, Agriculture, Interior, and the VA according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Seek out opportunities at all agencies regardless of which ones have had staffing cuts over the past two year.  Agencies must fill critical vacancies and competed for the limited applicants available. The tight job market and low unemployment rate may prove to be an opportunity for those seeking federal jobs.  Agencies may have to offer hiring incentives such as reimbursement for college tuition, relocation allowances and higher starting pay.

Many politicians look at the federal workforce as an overall drag on the budget, making it burdensome for taxpayers.  Prior presidents struggled with just how to balance the federal workforce with attrition, hiring freezes, and more.  President Trump recently focused on efficiencies, and he made promises to reduce the federal workforce through hiring freezes and attrition as well, but he looked to spare the military, public safety officials, and employees in the health industry.

The military and federal civil service combined equals a total workforce of approximately 4 million. Additional challenges are introduced since many are in ‘required’ positions, are deployed, and located at sensitive operations posts. Also,  The overall federal workforce as it stands under President Trump has decreased minimally.

Trump’s plan for attrition may also lead to outsourcing, which is a critical factor surrounding federal employment.  Contractors actually exceed the number of official federal employees. With 1/3rd of federal workers in their mid-50’s, 13% are 60+, and only 6.5% are under 30; we can see how the millennials aren’t fans of federal employment. There are several websites that provide data, statistics, job vacancy listings, and recommendations on federal employment. Visit USA Jobs. This federal jobs website serves as a great one stop source for information and federal employment data. Also visit Federal Jobs Network. This site consolidates information from many federal sites including USA Jobs to streamline your job search.

References:

Career Planning Tools

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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