Posted on Saturday, 17th January 2015 by

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Have you ever thought about who keeps all the postal vehicles in running order? The USPS has 211,654 vehicles (one of the largest civilian fleets in the world) and someone has to be able to maintain them and keep them up and running. What would they do without Vehicle Maintenance positions? These positions include: Lead Automotive Technician, Automotive Technician and Automotive Mechanic. These are very important positions in the USPS, because without them – the mail would come to a stand still. There are over 4000 Vehicle Maintenance positions. They are responsible for the maintenance and repair of light and medium delivery vehicles, tractor-trailers, service vehicles and automobiles that cover over a billion miles on our nation’s highways and byways. Below you will find more details on these Postal Service automotive technician jobs.

Most new employees are hired in as PTF (Part-time Flexible) employees. As a PTF, you are paid an hourly rate and work a flexible schedule as required by the workflow needed to maintain the postal fleet. Automotive technicians and mechanics work in a vehicle maintenance facility noted for a clean and safe environment, state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, tools and shop equipment and environmentally friendly materials. The postal service has over 320 vehicle maintenance facilities and auxiliary garages that are located in all major metropolitan areas across the country.

Vehicle maintenance positions include the following:

LEAD AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICAN: Serves as a working group leader at a maintenance facility or an auxiliary garage without direct supervision. Personally performs the most complex automotive maintenance and repairs on all types of vehicles.

AUTOMOTIVE MECHANIC: Troubleshoots, diagnoses and performs routine repairs and scheduled maintenance on all types of vehicles.

AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICIAN: They are responsible for maintaining and repairing all types of motor vehicles used in the postal fleet, troubleshoot and diagnose more complex vehicle malfunctions using a variety of computerized test equipment; may provide assistance to lower level employees.

The salary range for Automotive Technician is $41,185 to $59,245 annually. This job requires applicants to take and pass the Automotive Mechanic and Technician 943 Exam.

The following sample test questions provide examples of the types of questions that you will find on the 943 Exam. Additional automotive technician exam questions are included in Chapter Four of the all new 6th edition of Post Office jobs: The Ultimate 473 Postal Exam Study Guide and Job Finder. The exam takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.

Sample 943 Exam Questions

1. Which one of the following answers represents another way to open an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve other than with vacuum?

A. Spring Action
B. Electricity
C. Manually
D. Hydraulic Pressure

2. What engine defect will a wet compressions test detect?

A. Head gasket leaking
B. Valve seals are worn
C. Worn piston rings
D. Worn valve seats.

Answers: 1 – B, 2 – C

Automotive Technician Job Duties and Responsibilities

1. Diagnoses operating difficulties on a variety of vehicles and performs operational checks on engines; its major supporting systems, parts, components, assemblies; including emissions systems, electrical, computer and electronic controlled components.
2. Performs various computerized and electronic diagnostic tests using specialized equipment; interprets trouble codes and other information from electronic scanners and test analyzers; uses reference materials such as service manuals and wiring
schematics to determine operational difficulties, drivability problems and evaluates performance efficiency.
3. Conducts visual and auditory vehicle inspections, road calls and road tests before and after maintenance and repairs; annotates vehicle problems on work orders.
4. Provides technical guidance and instructions to mechanics and technicians on more difficult repairs and in the use of specialized computer-aided diagnostic equipment.
5. Performs maintenance and repairs resulting from normal preventive maintenance inspections.
6. Prepares and updates vehicle records, maintains vehicle records; annotates labor time, parts and/or equipment and other pertinent data on work orders.
7. Performs engine tune-ups; removes, replaces, adjusts, cleans parts, components, assemblies and accessories; uses a variety of specialized test equipment to adjust systems and components to prescribed operating tolerances.
8. Troubleshoots malfunctioning vehicles resulting from road calls and identifies improperly functioning part(s) and repairs or replaces.
9. Repairs and replaces major components including transmissions, differentials, brake systems, power assist units, steering and suspension assemblies.
10. Performs other job related duties and responsibilities in support of primary duties.
11. Follows all established safety practices and procedures; complies with all postal, local, state and federal environmental regulations and policies.

If interested in any maintenance position or any other positions at the United States Postal Service, please visit http://www.postalwork.net to begin your job search. Good luck in your job-hunting endeavors.

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

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 Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Post Office Jobs

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Posted on Monday, 12th January 2015 by

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U.S. Secret Service Jobs

This is the final installment of part 3 part of this series about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We will finish up with the U.S. Secret Service. The Secret Service was originally part of the U.S. Department of Treasury. It was put under DHS in 2003. The Secret Service was initially responsible for investigating counterfeiting of U.S. currency, which very prevalent after the Civil War. It eventually became the first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency.

The Secret Service is the oldest investigative law enforcement agency. Their dual mission is to “safeguard the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems to preserve the integrity of the economy, and to protect national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites and National Special Security Events”.

The Secret Service headquarters are in Washington, D.C., with over 136 field offices around the country. This agency is mandated by Congress to carry out their dual mission of protection and criminal investigations. One of their most important roles is to protect the President, Vice President, former presidents, visiting heads of states and major presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Special Agent

One of the more exciting careers is that of the special agent, GS-1811, and are hired at either the GL-7 level ($48,177 to $59,516), or GL-9 level ($53,728 to $67,589).

All secret service positions require a top-secret security clearance. Additionally, the applicant must meet specific suitability criteria. You must be a U.S. citizen, and there are age, vision, and physical condition requirements. You must be at least 21 years of age, and under 37 years of age to apply. A bachelor’s degree is required for the GL-7 level. The GL-9 level you must have a Master’s degree or 1 year equivalent to the GL-7.

There are 10 weeks of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Basic Criminal Investigator Training in Glycol, GA, and 17 weeks of Special Agent Basic Training at James J. Rowley Training Center. An agent must show proficiency in the handling of firearms, and maintain that proficiency.

Administrative Support Positions within the Secret Service

The following list of administrative positions involve knowledge of principles and concepts that are applicable to a variety of fields to include research, critical thinking, writing, and judgment.

Administrative Officer

The administrative officer, GS-0341-11/12 salary ranges from $60,212 (GS-11) with a promotion potential to $93,818 (GS-12) U.S. citizenship is a requirement for this position. To qualify for a GS-11 or GS-12 position you must have 1 year of specialized experience at the next lowest grade level (GS-09 or GS-11 respectively).

There is a wide range of duties that include planning, forecasting, presenting, tracking, and monitoring administrative and associated management services that are essential for effective operations.

An administrative officer has oversight over various program activities that are both short and long-range in duration. They must be able to estimate expenditures, coordinate, and track the expenditures associated with procurements of equipment, space, and supplies.

Other duties include initiating personnel actions and managing and assigning work to other administrative personnel. They participate in strategic planning, and serve as a key advisor to management on a wide range of administrative policies and procedures.

Investigative Support Assistant

The investigative support assistant, GS-1802, has a starting salary of $36,612 (GS-06) and a promotion potential to $58,576 (GS-08). You must be a U.S. citizen to apply and must have a top-secret clearance. To qualify for the GS-06 or GS-07 level you must have at least 1 year of experience at the next lowest grade (GS-05 or GS-06 respectively).

Responsibilities include preparation of correspondence, time, and attendance records, answer phones, process incoming and outgoing mail. Open and maintain case files, process and track evidence, and provide the necessary administrative support to special agent’s investigations, which include counterfeit and financial crimes.

They also conduct preliminary searches and input relevant data into criminal databases to help in the development of background information and compile criminal history statistics and reports.

Assist agents in preparing surveys, compile information for various reports and act as a liaison to local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies and share information and provide assistance as required.

Other interesting jobs include, polygraph support assistant, GS-303, investigative support assistant, GS-1802 and fingerprint specialist, GS-0072.

The Secret Service has over 136 field offices around the country and offices in such countries as Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands/The Hague, to name just a few. This agency offers an array of unique employment opportunities for applicants.

For additional Information see:

Related Resources

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

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 Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Law Enforcement jobs, Overseas Jobs

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Posted on Friday, 2nd January 2015 by

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If you are a veteran who recently left or are about to leave military service, the Federal government is a great option for you to consider in your civilian job search. In further recognition of their sacrifice to our nation, the Obama administration issued a 2009 Executive Order designed to promote employment opportunities for veterans. Since that time, government-wide hires of veterans have risen from 24 percent to 31 percent for FY 2013. In addition to enhancing the recruitment of veterans, the government applies a long-standing preference for many veterans when assessing their job applications in relation to similarly qualified applicants. This article describes the types of preference and the circumstances under which they are applied. My next article will describe special hiring authorities under which veterans may be hired without competition.

Types of Preference

Only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under an honorable or general discharge may receive a preference. If you are retired from the armed forces you are not eligible for a preference unless you are a disabled veteran or retired below the rank of major or equivalent.

Note that not all active duty service qualifies for veterans’ preference. Along with the required application materials, it is critically important that you document your preference eligibility with the member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.” If you do not yet have a DD214 because you are still in the military, you may request and submit an official statement of service with the dates and type of discharge you will receive. This allows for the application of a tentative preference pending receipt of your formal discharge document. Failure to include this documentation may result in the agency’s denial of your preference in the particular recruitment action.

In order to receive a preference, you must also meet one of the eligibility requirements of the two categories detailed below.

Non-Disabled

You are a 5 point preference eligible if your active duty service meets any of the following:

  • During a “war” (those declared by Congress) ; or
  • During the period April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on August 31, 2010, the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference.

Disabled

You are a 10 point preference eligible if you served at any time and you have:

  • A service connected disability, or
  • Received a Purple Heart

When claiming a 10 point preference, you must also submit a SF-15 in order to receive appropriate consideration.

Application of Preference To A Hiring Action

Entitlement to a veterans’ preference is an extremely valuable job search asset. Your preference applies when applying for permanent and temporary positions in both the competitive and excepted services of the executive branch. The preference does not apply to positions in the Senior Executive Service or positions requiring Senate confirmation. Additionally, the preference does not apply in the event an agency determines to fill a job through merit promotion, reassignment, transfer or reinstatement of a former Federal employee.

Although the preference does not apply when an agency determines to fill a position through a merit promotion action, veterans’ preference holders should be aware that they have the right to apply for these positions pursuant to the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) as long as the announcement is open to Federal employees outside the agency advertising the vacancy. Bear in mind that an agency has the discretion to recruit for the same job through both a competitive examination, or all sources, announcement and a merit promotion announcement, and to make a selection from either announcement. In this case, the individual with veterans’ preference should apply under both announcements to insure consideration depending on the method of selection.

Preference Groups

Assuming you’ve applied for a position through a competitive examination announcement, are determined as qualified for that position, and have properly established your preference, you are placed into one of the following groups for ranking your application:

  • CPS – Disability rating of 30% or more (10 points)
  • CP – Disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30% (10 points)
  • XP – Disability rating of less than 10% (10 points); this group also includes the “derived preference” applicable to qualified spouses, widows/widowers and mothers of veterans who otherwise meet the applicable preference requirements
  • TP – No disability rating (5 points)

Category Rating

Pursuant to a 2010 Presidential Memorandum, agencies are currently required to assess and select job applicants for positions filled through competitive examining by use of a category rating approach rather than requiring the selecting official to select from the three highest scoring applicants, otherwise known as the “rule of 3.” Under this rating system, qualified candidates are placed in one of at least two predefined categories, e.g., Highly Qualified and Qualified, rather than ranking by a numeric score.

When using the category rating process, veterans’ preference is applied as follows:

  • Qualified preference eligibles with a compensable service-connected disability of 10% or more (CPS and CP preference groups) are placed at the top of the highest category on the referral list in all jobs other than scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher.
  • Qualified XP or TP preference group eligibles are placed ahead of non-preference eligibles within the same rating category.

The process for determining and applying veterans’ preference can be complicated. If you pursue Federal employment and believe you are entitled to such a preference, make sure you have included all the documents relevant to your preference and do not hesitate to contact the hiring office throughout the recruitment action in order to insure that your application is properly considered.

Additional Resources

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal 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 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, Veterans Preference

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Posted on Monday, 15th December 2014 by

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Working for the Department of Homeland Security (Part 2)

Higher levels of security are now a way of life at airports. On the front lines in this effort is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Here is a sampling of the employment opportunities that TSA has to offer.

Federal Air Marshal Jobs

TSA employs federal air marshals, and this job category is part of the Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service. The federal air marshals help to protect the flying public, but also work closely with other law enforcement agencies.

Federal air marshals fly on an average of 181 days per year, which is almost 900 hours and equates to 5 hours per day in the air. They must evaluate and discern suspicious activity, conduct investigations in order to protect the flying public and crew from terrorist violence. They also work with other law enforcement agencies.

The job series is GL-0082, and the pay is based on pay bands, that are different from other law enforcement in other agencies. Pay band G, ranges in salaries from $39,358 to $60,982, band H, ranges from $48,007 to $74,390, and band I, ranges from $58,495 to $90,717.

You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 to apply and no older than 37 years of age. You need at least three (3) years of general experience, one (1) year of which is equivalent to the F Band (or GS-4 grade level) or a bachelor’s degree and 1 year of work experience equivalent to a GS-4 to qualify for the position.  You can also qualify with a combination of both experience and education. Recruits attend a residential training course at Artesia, NM that is 7 weeks in length. There is additional training at the Federal Air Marshal Training Academy in Atlantic City, NJ.

Air marshals are used to staff other organizations such as the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, National Counterterrisom Center, and the National Targeting Center.

Transportation Security Specialist Jobs

The transportation security specialist, (SV 1801-J) is part of the General Inspection, Enforcement, and Compliance job series. The salary range is from $89,535 to $138,776. You must either be a U.S. citizen or be U.S. National to apply for the position. This position is in a SV-J pay band, which is equivalent to a GS-14. To qualify for SV-J pay band you must have specialized experience at the SV-I pay band or at GS-13.

A transportation security specialist can serve in many capacities, such as a liaison for the Office of Security Operations. The liaison office for TSA is at the National Targeting Center – Cargo (NTC-C). Personnel from several agencies such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation staff the NTC-C.
At NTC-C, the transportation security specialist would be involved in securing air cargo. One example is identifying high-risk cargo shipments in the Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) program. This program provides tools necessary to enable risk-based, intelligence-driven approach to be applied to transportation security.

A transportation security specialist is considered part of the Office of Law Enforcement, Office of Security. The primary duties include monitoring, coordinating criminal and administrative investigations of non-TSA personnel. These types of investigations could lead to possible criminal, civil, or administrative actions in protecting and securing TSA facilities.

Transportation security specialists are also involved in policy development. This includes writing new policies, to revising exiting ones. They are responsible in the coordination from various branches, agencies, managers and other stakeholders relevant to written policies. Another important aspect of their duties is to ensure that documents are clear and concise; addressing risks and is from a sound regulatory framework.

The TSA has a responsibility to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement of people and commerce. There many great job opportunities such as security specialist, SV-0080/G-H, program analyst,
SV-0343/H-I, and transportation security officer (TSO), SV-1802/D.

In part 3 of this series on DHS, we will look at the Secret Service and the interesting role this agency plays in protecting our country.

For more information see:

Job Vacancy Lists:

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

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 Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Law Enforcement jobs

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Posted on Monday, 8th December 2014 by

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Are you a current high school, undergraduate or graduate student thinking about your post-education work opportunities? The Federal government’s Pathways Program (Pathways) can not only provide you with the training and exposure you need to decide whether a government career is right for you, but also with the opportunity for permanent employment. The Obama administration authorized Pathways in a 2010 Executive Order that, in part, replaced the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP). The administration discontinued the FCIP largely as a result of successful legal challenges based on a lack of public notice and application of veterans’ preference concerning intern positions.

Pathways consists of the following three components more fully discussed below: Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. Access to these programs depends on your current academic or professional status.

Internship Program

This program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and is open to current students attending high school, college, trade school, or graduate school. Agencies are required to post information regarding available intern positions and application information on USAJOBS and a recent visit to the site indicated the availability of almost 100 positions, many of which include multiple vacancies.

Student interns become eligible for conversion to a permanent position at any Federal agency upon meeting the following conditions:

  • Completion of at least 640 hours of work experience
  • Completion of degree or certificate requirements
  • Receipt of a favorable recommendation for appointment by an official at the agency served
  • Met the qualification standards for the position to which the intern will be converted
  • Met agency-specific requirements as specified in the Participant’s Agreement
  • Successful job performance

Recent Graduates Program

This is a full-time, one-year developmental program designed for individuals who have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from a qualifying educational institution or program. Candidates must apply within two years of graduation, with the exception of veterans, who may have up to six years to apply due to their military obligations. Consistent with the Internship Program, agencies must post available positions and application information on USAJOBS. There are currently over 40 Recent Graduate job announcements, several of which contain multiple vacancies. Each agency determines how many recent graduates they will hire.
Upon completion of the Program, recent graduates become eligible for conversion to a full-time competitive service position in their employing agency if the following conditions are met:

  • Successful completion of at least one year of continuous service in addition to all requirements of the Program
  • Successful job performance
  • Met the qualifications for the position to which the Recent Graduate will be converted

Presidential Management Fellows Program

The PMF Program has been the Federal government’s showcase leadership development program for over thirty years. Many PMF alumni have gone on to notable careers in academia, politics, and government service.

The above-referenced Executive Order adjusted the existing program by expanding the eligibility window, aligning the deadlines with academic calendars, and eliminating the requirement that applicants submit school nominations. Eligibility for the Program is now based either on the applicant receiving a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years, or meeting the degree requirements by August 31st of the year following application. PMF finalists selected by a participating agency receive a two-year appointment and have at least one four to six month developmental assignment. Upon successful completion of the Program, PMFs are eligible for conversion to a competitive service position in their employing agency.

Beginning with the Class of 2014, the PMF program added a pilot STEM track specifically for those interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As STEM PMFs, individuals engage in meaningful work on high-visibility federal research and development projects. These assignments will allow fellows to network with STEM professionals in different fields and locations, as well as to travel to locations where innovative STEM personnel solve national problems.

Unlike the Intern and Recent Graduates Programs, the PMF Program is centrally administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The application window for the PMF Class of 2015 was open from October 1-15, 2014. Following receipt of applications, OPM conducts a comprehensive written and in-person assessment process and ultimately notifies agencies of the candidates eligible for selection in April of each year. Once selected, PMF finalists have up to twelve months to obtain an agency appointment. Each PMF appointment is two years in duration. Although an appointment is not guaranteed, OPM hosts numerous job fairs and workshops designed to find the right agency fit for the finalists. Please see the PMF website for extensive information regarding the application, assessment, and appointment process.

If you think you may be interested in one of these Pathways Programs, please visit the referenced sites, as well as the information on each program provided on OPM’s website. Also, explore other private sector student job opportunities in your area.

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal 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 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 Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Student jobs

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Posted on Monday, 1st December 2014 by

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The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is an agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This new department was created after September 11, 2001, the day that changed the lives of all Americans. Out of this tragedy DHS was born.

History

President George W. Bush, stated,” A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.”

Just eleven days after 9/11 occurred, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security. DHS is responsible for safeguarding the United States against terrorism and future attacks and in November of 2002, the Homeland Security Act formally created this new Department. It includes over 22 different federal agencies, and they all work in unison to defend our country against terrorist attacks.

The DHS Organization of Today

The DHS’s mission “includes preventing terrorism and enhancing security; managing our borders; administering immigration laws; securing cyberspace; and ensuring disaster resilience”.

Some of the more well-known components of DHS include:

  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This department is one of the largest and its primary mission is keeping out terrorists, defending our borders, enforce immigration, and drug laws.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This agency is the first responder when disasters strike our country. They help in preparation, protection, recovery efforts, and mitigation of all hazards.
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This agency protects the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement of people and commerce.
  • U.S. Secret Service. The Secret Service is tasked in safeguarding the nation’s financial infrastructure, preserve the economy, and protect national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites.
  • There are 18 other agencies in the Department of Homeland (DHS).

The People of the DHS

DHS offers a vast variety of career choices due to its 22 different federal agencies.  This article, part 1 of a 3 part series, explores FEMA job opportunities.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA is divided into 10 specific regions around the country. They offer a variety of unique employment opportunities, and a candidate can be hired or placed in one of these regions based upon the job or a specific need.

Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employees (CORE)

These employees are hired for a limited time that can be from 2 to 4 years. The positions are for on going disaster work only when the funding is available.

One example of this type of job is mitigation planning specialist. GS-0301-11/12, ($61,857 to $96,382). The applicant is responsible for developing, preparing and reviewing plans on projects. They do risk analysis and assessment, and understand various laws and regulations for the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as, policies and procedures.

To qualify for the GS-11or GS-12 level the candidate must have 1 full year of specialized experienced at the previous grade. This experience consists of development of community, land use or natural resource plans, ordinances at the local, state, or federal level that dealt with floodplain management.

See More about CORE for additional information.

FEMA Corps

This program was started in 2012, in partnership between DHS and FEMA. The FEMA Corps consists of 1,600 service corps members within the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps that is specific to disaster preparation, response, and recovery.

This program prepares 18-24 year olds in a variety of careers in the emergency management field. The program is 10 months in length with an option to extend for an additional term.

The focus of program is providing support for working directly with disaster survivors. They also work in disaster recovery centers, and provide the public with relevant disaster preparedness information.

Other FEMA job opportunities include environmental protection specialist, GS-0028, emergency management specialist (situation unit leader), AD-0089, and information technology specialist, GS-2210.

DHS is a vast agency that administers immigration laws, helps in the prevention of terrorism, enhancing our security, safeguarding and securing cyberspace, and our borders, and strengthening the security enterprise.

Check out the 22 different federal agencies, as well as, the amazing career possibilities with DHS.

In the next article, we will feature federal air marshals with the TSA and part three will cover Secret Service job opportunities.

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

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 Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Monday, 24th November 2014 by

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Jean Kapala Brown, Executive Director of the Chicago Federal Executive Board, advises that, “One way to hear about federal job openings FIRST is to have USA jobs send you email alerts.” She goes on to state, “this will be critical with the limited number of applications the system will now accept. As of December 2014, FEMA will limit the number of job applicants to 200 applicants per job announcement across all job categories, in order to expedite the hiring process.”

Previously most agencies accepted applications up to the closing date of the federal job announcement. To streamline and fast track the hiring process agencies are experimenting with closing the job announcement after receipt of a specific number of applications. A single job announcement can easily generate thousands of applications in today’s automated environment and the more applications you have the longer it takes to hire.

Agencies can achieve the same results by limiting the time the bid is open. Some announcements are only open, available, for a week or less. Whether or not they limit the number of applicants or choose to shorten the time a job announcement is advertised applicants must be prepared to reply immediately to any job announcement of interest. Sign up for www.USAJobs.gov email alerts as Jean suggests and visit the site frequently so you won’t miss out on a job opportunity in your area.

Some feel this is unfair and limits the application pool. My personal opinion is that it is generally a good thing because too often agency HR departments gets bogged down with the administrative burden of having to review, assess, and evaluate thousands of applications for a single opening. By limiting the number, the HR departments can thoroughly review and assess each application received so that the most qualified are properly identified. Without these limitations it can take months to fill a critical position.

I experienced this firsthand during my career. I was a certified rating official with the Federal Aviation Administration for technical specialties in the 2100 series. When announcements closed I would travel to the regional office in New York City to evaluate and rate applicant’s packages. It was tedious and very time consuming. Even with today’s advanced automation HR specialists still make the final determinations and with the new Category Rating System supervisors and staff must be more involved throughout the hiring process.

The old saying that the early bird catches the worm still applies and is true in most venues; you have to be prepared and with today’s automation it’s easy to do. I always recommend completing your federal resume/application off line on your desktop computer before you copy and paste it into the USAJobs’ resume builder. This gives you the opportunity to take your time and compose a thorough application that you can easily update as you gain new experiences, education, and complete new assignments. This applies to employees as well, not just to job seekers. I kept my application updated in real time on my desktop throughout my career so that I was prepared to apply for any job of interest that came my way.

When applying for a job, review the job announcement thoroughly. This document guides you through the application process, lists required experience and/or education, and provides an HR contact for you to call or email if you run into problems. You must tailor your application to each job announcement and many make the mistake of submitting the same application for all jobs they apply for. Even within the same job series qualification and required knowledge, skills and abilities can change and if you leave these out you more than likely will not make the best qualified list.

USAjobs allows you to store up to five resumes and ten candidate documents that you can use to submit for vacancies as they occur. You can easily revise any of them as needed before applying for your next job.

How to Get Started on USAJobs.gov

  • Visit www.USAJobs.gov
  • Click on “Create an Account” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen
  • Enter your email address (required)
  • Create a username
  • Agree to the USAJobs terms and conditions
  • Copy and paste your resume into their resume builder
  • Search, apply for jobs

Seek out all jobs that you qualify for in your area of consideration and apply. If you don’t find anything in your primary search look for related occupations that you can meet the qualifications for to get your foot in the door. One of the keys to success is finding viable openings to apply for and to do this today you have to be proactive and constantly searching available listings for opportunities. Sign up for job email alerts and visit USAJobs frequently to make a connection.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal 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 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 Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Resumes / KSAs

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Posted on Monday, 17th November 2014 by

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Throughout my federal career, I was involved in acquisition functions. I was a Contract Specialist and a Program Analyst for the Department of the Army. Acquisition functions are found in all of the agencies and branches of the military.

Acquisition Functions

Congress is responsible for the passing of the federal budget and the appropriation of funds. Once these funds are appropriated, the federal government can acquire goods and services to include real property.

The procurement process is initiated through the use of contracts. Government contracting is heavily regulated and subject to many statues and other regulations including the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). All procurement activities must follow the FAR that deals with the federal contracting process.

Each branch of the military and all federal agencies have implemented additional regulations, which are derived from the FAR, and unique to that particular branch or agency’s procurement practices.

Government contracting agents are required to obligate funds, through contracts, for the procurement of goods, services, or real property. Federal employees are assigned agent responsibilities and many contract types and solicitations are used in the procurement process. The federal employee (agent) can negotiate contract terms and conditions and this is strictly controlled by the FAR and other statues.

Once a contract is negotiated, and awarded, the funds are allocated for payment. The contracting officer has signing authority as government contract agent. The agent’s authority is granted by a warrant and the agent cannot deviate from it in any way. The warrant gives the Contracting Officer authority to sign a contract up to a certain dollar amount.

Funds can’t be obligated unless funds are authorized. The Anti Deficiency Act, states that no one can obligate money to make payments on a contract unless the funds have already been authorized. The contracting officer must sign off that funds are available and authorized. They legally obligate the government for the expenditure of funds.

Acquisitions Careers

The contract specialist is the most prevalent job category in the Acquisition career field. The job classification is GS-1102. Other procurement jobs under the GS-1102 series include contractor administrator, contracting officer, and procurement analyst. The salary range for grades GS-05-15 is $31,628.00-$149,333.00. These salaries depend upon the grade level, location, and if it is a non-supervisor or a supervisory position. You can also explore several related occupations including Purchasing GS-1105 and Procurement Tech GS-1106 jobs.

Contract Specialist Requirements

The contract specialist acts a business advisor and assists in the planning to acquire needed goods and services. Contract specialists are in high demand, especially after 9/11. The majority of the procurement activities have become technically complex and of longer duration. Contract Specialists must constantly keep up-to-date with the laws that govern procurement processes.

The contract specialist prepares the proposal package, negotiates the contract if applicable, and awards the contract. Only the contracting officer is authorized to sign and administer the contract once it is awarded. You must be a U.S. citizen to be a contract specialist.

Typically, the entry grade is at the GS-5 level, which is considered a journeyman/training position. At the GS-5 level, you can have either a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. Contract Specialists above the GS-5 level, have the same basic requirements of a Bachelor’s degree. Within that degree an applicant must have at least 24 hours in business-related courses in the following fields: accounting, business, finance, law, contracts, purchasing, economics, industrial management, marketing, quantitative methods, or organization and management. (This requirement can be obtained within the degree or in addition to the degree).

At the GS-07-15 levels, you will need additional specialized experience that includes providing business advice and performing all pre-award and post-award job functions. This additional job experience must be at least 52 weeks in length, is at the previous grade level, and depends upon what grade you are applying.

The contracting officer position starts at a GS-12 level and all the other specialized experience applies. An additional requirement for a contracting officer is a warrant. The warrant gives the contracting officer signing authority (at certain dollar thresholds) to obligate funds for contracts.

Review the related qualification standards for additional information.

Contract Administrator

The contract administrator starts at a GS-11 level and are assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). DCMA is located all across the United States and overseas.

The main functions include monitoring of contractor’s performance and delivery schedules. Negotiate supplemental agreements for the contracting officer’s signature. Close out contracts once final delivery has been made. A contract administrator should have a broad knowledge of estimating costs, pricing systems, financial policies, and cost control procedures are monitored, analyzed, and evaluated in accordance with financial and contract administration requirements.

Procurement Analyst

The procurement analyst starts at the GS-12 grade level. They still must meet all requirements of the GS-1102 job series. The applicant requires good decision making and analysis skills. They must have customer service experience to resolve difficult contract issues and they often coordinate procurement management reviews. Additionally, they should have a mastery of acquisition concepts, principles, practices, laws, regulations, methods, and techniques.

Challenges of the Acquisition Professional

The acquisition professional is a very specialized job category. The contract specialist must have an understanding of procurement laws and acts as an agent for the federal government to obligate funds. The acquisition process can be very long and tedious due to complex regulations that must be followed. The federal government is constantly reviewing and addressing the acquisition process to make it more manageable.

The acquisition professional plays a vital role as steward of the taxpayer’s dollars. They work to get the best price, timely delivery of services, and ensure the integrity of the procurement process.

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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 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 Thursday, 13th November 2014 by

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There are over 2000 occupational codes in the Postal Service’s Position Directory. A number of these positions are in the maintenance field. I use to think of “maintenance” as just being the “cleaning crew”. But it is so much more than that. The USPS has area maintenance technicians, building equipment mechanics, thousands of custodians, electronics technicians, auto mechanics and technicians, and general maintenance mechanics just to name a few of the available maintenance positions.

Fortunately there are promotion opportunities in these departments. A person that works as an automotive mechanic for example could move up to a technician position. They could also be promoted to lead technician or a supervisory position if available and if they meet the qualifications for the promotion.

There are many opportunities for electronic technicians due to the considerable amount of electronic equipment that has to be in full working order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 1982, the Postal Service deployed its first flat sorting machine (FSM), the FSM 775. Previously, all flats had been processed manually. With four operators keying in part of the ZIP Code, the FSM 775 could sort about 6,200 flats per hour into 100 bins. The FSM 881, introduced ten years later in 1992, could sort about 10,000 flats per hour with four operators. These were the machines that I worked on at the Kansas City KS General Mail Facility, when I was a PTF clerk. The ET’s had to be available to keep these machines operational so the mail could keep moving and be ready for dispatch at 4:30 am. You can see why ET’s are so valuable to the postal service; the mail could come to a complete halt if the machines like the FSM and Delivery Bar Code Sorters were unable to operate.

I’ll cover a number of the maintenance positions in my column starting with electronic technician. The salary range for an Electronic Technician – PS 10 is $56,150 to $67,156.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Carry out all phases of maintenance, troubleshooting and testing of electronic circuitry used in equipment and systems requiring knowledge of solid-state electronics. Instructs and provides technical support on complex systems and on combinational (hardware/software) or intermittent problems.

  • Performs the testing, diagnosis, maintenance and revision work requiring knowledge of solid-state electronics.
  • Observes the various equipment and systems in operation and applies appropriate testing and diagnostic methods and procedures to ensure proper operation.
  • Locates source of equipment and system failures, rectifies trouble in involved cases or provides instructions to be used by maintenance employees performing repair work.
  • Makes or participates with contractor representative or electronic technician in installing or altering equipment and systems as required.
  • Makes reports of equipment and system failures, which require corrective action by contractor and follows up to see that appropriate action, is taken.
  • Makes preventive maintenance inspections to discover incipient malfunctions and to review the standards of maintenance.
  • Recommends changes in preventive maintenance procedures and practices as found to be necessary.
  • Programs scheme and/or scheme changes into memory units as requested by management.
  • Furnishes pertinent data to superiors and contract employees on operation and testing problems.
  • Participates in training programs: classroom, on-the-job, and correspondence, at postal facilities, trade schools and manufacturer’s plants as required. May assist in developing and implementing training programs. Instructs equal or lower level employees as required.
  • Observes established safety regulations pertaining to the type of work involved.
  • May drive vehicle or utilize other available mode of transportation to work site when necessary.
  • Provides technical support to other electronic technicians to resolve complex, combinational (hardware/software) and/or intermittent failures.
  • Performs such duties as may be assigned

If interested in any Maintenance position or any other position at the United States Postal Service visit our USPS Job Search Guide and follow the link at the end of the guide to the official USPS jobs site to find job vacancies in your area.

Good luck in your job hunting endeavors.

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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 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, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Post Office Jobs

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Posted on Thursday, 6th November 2014 by

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Over the past three decades, the expanding variety of available workplace flexibilities has provided potential applicants with an added incentive in seeking Federal agency positions. The Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) is the longest tenured flexibility initiative, tracing its origin to 1978. Since that time, the availability of AWS programs has become a key recruitment and retention tool along with the student loan repayment program that agencies can now offer to fill critical vacancies.  In addition to reviewing the available AWS options, this post will also seek to provide some insight into the current usage of AWS across the government.

Description of AWS

The term “Alternative Work Schedule” encompasses two general types of work schedules, flexible work schedules (FWS) and compressed work schedules (CWS), each representing a variation to the fixed-schedule 8-hour, 5-day work week.

A FWS consists of workdays with (1) core hours and (2) flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday when employees may (within limits or “bands”) choose their time of arrival and departure. Within limits set by each agency, a FWS can enable employees to select and alter their work schedules to best fit personal needs and help balance work and family responsibilities. There are various types of FWS arrangements that provide different degrees of flexibility regarding starting/stopping times and core hours. These include flexitour, gliding, variable day, variable week, and maxiflex schedules. OPM’s Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules defines each of these terms and provides a detailed analysis of each option.

If authorized by agency policy or a collective bargaining agreement for unionized employees, an employee may have the option of earning credit hours. These are hours worked in excess of an employee’s basic work requirement (e.g., 40 hours a week), which the employee elects to work in order to vary the length of a workweek or a workday. An employee may carry a maximum of 24 credit hours from one pay period to the next.

As a result of the flexible start/stop times, the overtime rules under an AWS are slightly different from those that apply to a fixed work schedule. When working under an AWS, overtime work consists of hours of work that are officially ordered in advance and in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. However, overtime does not include hours worked voluntarily, including credit hours, or hours an employee covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act is “suffered or permitted” to work that are not officially ordered in advance.

A CWS meets the basic work requirement of 80 hours in less than 10 work days. Arrival and departure times and non-workdays are fixed. There are no provisions for flexitime or gliding schedules under a CWS program, and credit hours are not permissible. Depending on the applicable agency policy or applicable collective bargaining agreement, employees may be able to select one of 3 CWS options:

  • 5-4/9 Plan: Employee works 8 9-hour days and 1 8-hour day each pay period.
  • 4-Day Workweek: Employee works 4 10-hour days each workweek.
  • 3-Day Workweek: Employee works 3 days of 13 hours and 20 minutes each work week.

A CWS cannot be established among non-unionized employees unless a majority of those employees vote to adopt it. In a unionized organization, only those employees in the bargaining unit are bound by the negotiations establishing the CWS program. Also, any employee for whom a compressed work schedule would impose a personal hardship may be excluded from the program.

AWS Participation

Despite a dearth of historical data, available reports indicate that as much as 40% of the Federal workforce has participated in some form of AWS. The recently issued Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Results for 2014 indicates that AWS is the single most popular work/life flexibility: 33% of responding employees participate in AWS. Employees consistently cite the scheduling flexibilities that AWS programs facilitate as a primary reason for increased morale and job motivation. Moreover, the Obama administration recently reinforced its support for AWS and other workplace flexibilities by requiring agency heads to make them available to the “maximum extent practicable.”

From a personal perspective, as both a former Office of Personnel Management attorney exposed to numerous agency policies and long-time AWS participant, I found that some form of AWS is widely available to Federal employees in the Washington, D.C. area. Moreover, employees occupying a broad range of clerical, professional, and supervisory job categories take advantage of AWS options where available.

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal 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 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 Employees, Federal Jobs

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