Posted on Monday, 15th September 2014 by

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I was so excited when I got the call to come to work for the United States Postal Service! I had recently been laid off from another job and this couldn’t have come at a better time. I had always heard that the USPS was a good place to work and I found out it was. The benefits were excellent; 5 weeks of vacation (when I retired), 10 paid holidays, 13 paid sick days, health benefits and good wages!

I began my postal career June 1, 1991 at the General Mail Facility (GMF) in Kansas City KS working as a Distribution Clerk. My duties included; sorting parcels, letters and flats, working in the registry cage, running the Flat machine and Bar Code Sorter.

One of my favorite things to do was work on the flat machine. This was a machine that sorted the flats (magazines and newspapers) by zip code. I would sit at a conveyer and the flats would come in front of me and I would have to key the last three digits of the zip code, then the machine would take the flat and dump it in a tub to be delivered to that particular post office. I liked to challenge myself on how fast I could key them in. I was scheduled on Tour 1, which is 10:30 pm to 7 am and I was surprised when I found out I would be working nights. I guess I never gave it a thought as to how the mail got to the post office for the carriers to deliver. I have to admit, it was an adjustment to work those hours and as soon as I could, I put in for a transfer to the Pleasant Hill MO Post Office.

I was able to transfer in August of 1993 and began working the window and sorting mail. I would arrive at the post office around 5:45 am and began sorting the mail for the carriers. We had to sort it by route. It took a little while to learn all the different street names and which route they went on, but doing it day after day, I learned it pretty quickly. We had two city routes and 5 rural routes. The clerks in offices like this usually do a split shift, we come in early to sort the mail and then come back in the afternoon to get all the mail ready for dispatch.

One of my other duties while working at Pleasant Hill was as a substitute City Carrier. I would carry the mail every other Saturday. I’m not much of an “outdoor” person, so this job wasn’t one of my favorite things to do. You had to carry mail in the rain, snow, hail, etc. I liked the days where it was 70 degrees and mail was light! This route was 4 miles long, so it wasn’t that bad compared to the other route, which was 18 miles. I met a lot of nice people along the route and some of them were very good to me including giving me something cold to drink on those hot days. That was so appreciated! That’s one of the nice things about the postal service; there are many, many different jobs. There is one out there for you!

I transferred in 1995 to the Greenwood MO Post Office where I also worked the window and sorted mail. This was a smaller office than Pleasant Hill; we didn’t have any city routes and only 3 rural routes. No more carrying mail! I liked that! I stayed at this post office until 2000, when I transferred to the Bates City MO Post Office. That is one of the nice things about the post office, you are able to transfer and get closer to home. Bates City was only a few miles from my home, which made it so nice. I was the only clerk in Bates City. Whenever the Postmaster was out of the office, such as on annual or meetings at the District Office, I would be the Officer In Charge or Acting Postmaster.

In October of 2003, I was fortunate to be “detailed” in the Personnel Department at the District Offices in Kansas City MO. I learned so much in that position and loved that job. I was responsible for the hiring of career and non-career employees in 700+ post offices, stations and processing plants in Kansas and Missouri. My two-year “detail” turned into 5 years! It was a very rewarding position, because I got to see the excitement on new employees faces just like I had in 1991. The USPS has been very good to me; I had excellent pay, health benefits and now a good retirement. If you are looking for the same things, I strongly urge you to visit http://www.postalwork.net to explore the opportunities and for direct links to the official USPS employment site. Search for any positions that are now available and apply. I don’t think you will be sorry that you did. Good luck to you!

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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 Federal Career Exploration, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Post Office Jobs

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Posted on Monday, 8th September 2014 by

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It’s no surprise that many people interested in Federal jobs often are discouraged by the amount of time it can take to complete the hiring process. Following the closing date of a job announcement, the hiring timeline is affected by the rating and ranking process including the application of various hiring preferences, the interview process, reference checks, and the necessary background investigation. Despite efforts by the Obama administration, through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to streamline the process, it may still take several months from the submission of an application until the first day of work.

A Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) is perhaps the most effective tool currently available to agencies seeking to expedite the hiring of qualified people in positions that must be filled quickly. The following discussion provides information on current government-wide authorities; outlines the nature of a DHA; indicates what an agency must do to obtain the authority; and explains what applicants should do in order to take advantage of a DHA.

Current Government-Wide Direct-Hire Authorities

At this time, agencies may take advantage of government-wide DHA related to the following occupations:

  • Medical positions (Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, Medical Officer, Nurse, Pharmacist)
  • Veterinary Medical Officer
  • Information Technology Management (Information Security) positions
  • Federal Acquisition positions covering a broad range of contracting and purchasing jobs
  • Iraqi Reconstruction positions requiring fluency in Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages

Description of Authority

Under a DHA, an agency must demonstrate a severe shortage of candidates or critical hiring need. If one of these conditions applies, the agency is free to hire any qualified applicants into a competitive service position without regard to:

  • the normal rating and ranking process,
  • the application of veterans’ preference, or
  • the “rule of three” selection requirement, under which managers may only select from among the three highest-scoring applicants.

Although OPM may independently authorize a DHA for certain positions/locations, it is more common for individual agencies to submit a request based on their own unique sets of circumstances.

Required Information

In making a Direct-Hire request, an agency must be as specific as possible about the positions it seeks to fill in particular locations, as well as define the time-frame needed for use of the authority.

When making a request based on a severe shortage of candidates, the relevant regulation provides detailed guidance as to how an agency can demonstrate that the position(s) are difficult to fill. OPM finds the following to be the most significant types of evidence: documented results of relatively recent recruitment and training efforts including the use of other hiring authorities and incentives; reports from government organizations and trade associations regarding employment trends and skill shortages; and unique position requirements such as security clearance and medical training.

Under a critical hiring need request, an agency must document the basis for the need and submit evidence as to why the use of existing hiring authorities is impracticable or would be ineffective. Specifically, an agency must point to a provision of law, Presidential directive/initiative, declaration of national emergency, or other unforeseen circumstance that requires the immediate filling of vacancies. OPM also requires the agency to fully describe why other hiring authorities, or options such as transfers, details, or reassignments, cannot meet the immediate need.

Finding a Direct-Hire Position

Don’t be discouraged If you do not qualify for one of the available government-wide Direct-Hire positions. There are likely to be many more positions available as a result of specific agency grants of authority. Agencies must post all Direct-Hire vacancies on usajobs.gov. A recent search revealed over 300 Direct-Hire job postings. In order to insure that you’ve captured the full range of available positions, you should also visit the job postings portal on the website for any agency that hires people with your qualifications and is located in your geographic area(s) of interest.

By way of caution, the use of DHA is not free from controversy. As indicated above, its application negates veterans’ preference, and Congress recently scrutinized HHS’s filling of approximately 1800 Direct-Hire positions in connection with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

For detailed information regarding DHA, please see the fact sheet on OPM’s website.

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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 Jobs, Job Interviews, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Monday, 1st September 2014 by

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Information Technology is a constantly growing field and IT Professionals have many options today at their disposal. Explore private sector and federal IT jobs to expand your employment options .

Private Sector IT Professionals versus Public Sector IT Professionals

The private sector employs network administrators, security, and systems analysts. The benefit packages including health insurance, 401k for retirement, sick time, holidays, and vacations can differ greatly from company to company. You must also consider the risk of a layoff, and the promotion potential at a particular company. Certifications and educational requirements are similar for both the private and the public sector.

The federal sector assigns job categories for each occupation and the 2210 job series is specifically for IT jobs. The benefits that the Federal Government offers are generous including health insurance, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) (a 401k plan), Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), sick and annual leave is accrued based on how long you work for the government. There are less layoffs, called Reduction in Force (RIF), in the federal government and promotion potential depends upon many factors including your credentials, willingness to relocate, and the agency you work for.

2210 Job Series

The Information Technology Management series (2210) is covered by a Job Family Standard (JFS). This article will explore 2 of these federal jobs, the education requirements, and other qualifications.

The Network Services (NETWORK) includes network administrators, LAN/WAN administrator and others. The required education includes High School and experience or a BS degree or higher for an entry-level job. Network administrators can further distinguish themselves with various certifications, such as CompTIA’s Network+, and Cisco’s CCNA. They have to be able to work in various operating systems and computer platforms, as well as do program, design and modify commercial software. The Occupational Outlook Handbook describes the Network and Computer Systems Administrator in detail.

The Systems Administration (SYSANALSIS) includes system administrator, site administrator or UNIX/Windows administrator. The required education is a Bachelors Degree or higher. Systems administrators include more advanced certifications in Microsoft. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The systems analyst should have knowledge of hardware systems and software applications. The Occupational Outlook Handbook link to this career field provides insightful information about job outlook, working conditions, pay and more.

This is just a small sample of the tremendous opportunities that the Federal Government has to offer in IT. Various agencies can offer the IT professional exciting and challenging jobs. Below is a list of agencies that require highly skilled IT processionals.

U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM)

The U.S. Cyber Command or USCYBERCOM is located in Fort Gordon, GA and is one of the premier places for IT professionals to work. The mission of “USCYBERCOM is to plan, coordinate, integrate, synchronize, and conduct activities to direct the operations and defense of specified DOD information networks. They also prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.” Here is the link for more information, U.S. Army Cyber Command.

U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)

NETCOM was realigned in 2014 to a subordinate command under the U.S. Army Cyber Command/2nd Army and their mission is to operate and defend computer networks of the United States Army. Their headquarters are in Fort Huachuca, AZ and they provide direct and indirect support to Army and Joint Coalition forces. Here is the link for more information NETCOM | Home – U.S. Army .

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DHS is comprised of 22 agencies and was formed after the attacks of 9/11 in 2001. Their mission is to ” prevent terrorism and enhance security; managing our borders; administering immigration laws; securing cyberspace; and ensuring disaster resilience.” DHS is unique because it impacts all sectors, from across the federal government, state, local, tribal and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector all help to carry out this mission. Here is the link for more information U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

What the future holds for IT professionals

All agencies across the federal government will have an increased need for IT professionals to keep our networks properly functioning, protect our infrastructure, and defend against cyber attacks.

The Bureau of Labor statics indicates that the estimated job growth (through 2018) in the field of information technology will add approximately 785,700 new jobs. Moreover, it is projected to grow twice as fast as other occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor (BLS), the average wage of a Network Administrator with a Bachelors Degree is about $77,910 and for a Computer Systems Analyst with a Bachelors Degree is about $85,320.

The future for IT professionals in the federal government is excellent. Agencies continue to expand their automation footprint. Having the right education and certifications will make an IT professional stand out. Our infrastructure and computer networks are under constant attack, there will always be a need for good IT professionals to keep it safe. View all IT job listings for your area.

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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 Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Monday, 25th August 2014 by

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In part one of this series, we discussed a brief history of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and its role in protecting our America’s borders. In addition, the U.S. Border Patrol Agent was featured, today in this final part of this two part series, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will be discussed. I interviewed two CBP Officers for this second article.

The CBP Officer’s role is different from that of the U.S. Border Patrol Agent. The CBP Officer enforces laws that secure our borders and fight terrorism. They work in airports and seaports examining cargo and passengers at border stations. On the other hand, U.S. Border Patrol Agents track illegal immigration and smuggling primarily along the Mexican and Canadian borders. Both the Border Patrol Agent and the CBP Officer together help to fight domestic and foreign terrorism.

Economics play an integral role in the security of our borders. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Field Operations, they “help drive our Nation’s economic engine by facilitating lawful international trade and travel through the enforcement of hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations ranging from agriculture to intellectual property rights”.

Natalia Papachoris, Chief CBP Officer, GS-13 wanted to become a CBP Officer because it offered her the opportunity to do something that she knew would be a challenge. She stated, “I also knew it would be very rewarding. I knew I would receive invaluable training, and that this career would allow me the opportunity to positively impact many people’s lives. As an officer, I am able to interact with hundreds of travelers every day, and I work with some of the most amazing people from all parts of the country.”

Officer Papachoris gets satisfaction from knowing that all of the work the agency does has a great impact on the nation. She states, ” Of course, everyone hears about the very exciting enforcement work we do, which is outstanding; but we also do so much more! A big part of our job entails facilitating trade and tourism into the Unites States. It is very rewarding to know that the work we do not only keeps bad things and bad people out of the country, but it also has a positive impact on the US economy every day.”

The most rewarding part of her job is that she sees the clear outcomes of her work. Natalia explains that, “whether apprehending and denying entry to a traveler with nefarious intentions or seizing harmful contraband, I know my efforts make a difference. I enjoy the constantly varied challenges that are put in front of me and the ability to be flexible and adaptable to solve the problems. I am motivated by the encouragement I receive to think outside the box and be creative.”

Officer Papachoris would advise people entering the field that, “this job has unlimited opportunities. Not only do we have officers working in most every part of the country, but we have international positions as well. The work we do entails so many different jobs; a new officer will have so many possibilities.”

She further states, “We are the first line of defense on our borders! We are responsible for protecting against terrorists, apprehending individuals who attempt to enter the US illegally; for interdicting illegal drugs and other contraband, and we also protect our agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases. Most importantly, what other job can offer so much? ”

Tommy Sutton, CBP Officer/Program Manager, GS13 applied to CBP out of a fascination with international travel and the desire to be part of one of the greatest missions in protecting our homeland. He stated that, ” whether returning from an international flight or walking across an international border, I would take notice of the CBP officers performing their various functions and be interested in their work. It was clear that they were applying sharp thinking and expert problem solving to quickly make determinations and follow up possible issues with people and things that might not have been lawful. Further, I liked the thought of being part of an agency and tradition that was nearly as old as our country itself. I felt that being part of CBP would be an exciting career.”

Officer Sutton finds his working for CBP rewarding because he can see the clear outcomes of his efforts. He advises those pursuing employment with CBP that, ” you only live once. You owe it yourself to choose an exciting, fun and challenging career. CBP offers limitless opportunities to pursue throughout your career. Whether you chose to stay here at home or venture out to locations throughout the world, you will be met daily with interesting and important work. You will know that you have tangibly and relevantly had a big part in protecting our homeland and the American people.”

The roles of the CBP Officer and the U.S. Border Patrol Agent are our first line of defense in securing our borders and for our fight against terrorism. The goal of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to provide the best possible security, this agency will have a lasting impact by protecting our country. According to the a recent announcement, CBP will hire 2,000 additional officers by the end of fiscal year 2015 to enhance security, help reduce wait times and facilitate growing volumes of legitimate goods and travelers that are critical to the health of our Nation’s economy.

Additional resources:

The economic benefit of a single CBP officer
Law Enforcement Jobs

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, Law Enforcement jobs, Overseas Jobs

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Posted on Monday, 18th August 2014 by

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Every time we turn on the news today border control and immigration is a hot news topic. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing our border monthly and flooding the already overtaxed customs and border protection services. Major immigration overall is a legislative priority as the new arrivals and the 11 million or so undocumented residents must be dealt with. There are many border patrol job opportunities currently available and many more to come as necessary funding is approved to improve border security.

Have you ever wondered what a U.S. Border Patrol Agent really does?  This article will explore various facets of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service. With over 60,000 employees, CBP, is one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the world. It’s missions is to keep terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating international trade and travel within the guidelines of our laws. Border Patrol is a department within CBP.

In part one of the series; we will cover what it is like to work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, featuring U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Part two of the series will cover the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer.

Prior to1921 border control was not an apparent priority for the U.S. Government.  Things changed when on January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the making, importation, and distribution of alcohol beverages became effective. Additionally, the U.S. Government was limiting the number of immigrants coming to the United States.

Because of these two events, protecting the U.S. border was becoming more important and in 1924, the U.S. Border Patrol was established. Its mission is to be “guardians of our nation’s borders”.  Initially the U.S. Border Patrol only staffed  inspection stations and in 1925 seaports were added. Their role has expanded over the years and today, it is called U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service is the guardian of our nation’s borders and safeguard the American homeland at and beyond our borders. While living in Arizona, in the Sierra Vista area, (60 miles from the Mexico border), whenever I would travel to Tucson, I encountered several U.S. Border Patrol Agents.  They would inspect underneath the vehicle and ask to see my ID. I was grateful for what they were doing to protect our nation.

A U.S Border Patrol Agent must be a U.S. citizen, have a valid driver’s license, and pass the CBP Border Patrol examination. They must also either know or learn to speak Spanish, and their application is assessed for relevant job-related experiences and achievements.  Review the GS-1896 Qualification Standard for  complete information on how to qualify for positions from entry level to higher grade positions.

Additionally, U.S. Border Patrol Agents must be under 37 years of age, the pay grades go from GS-1896-05 to GS-1896-12, the education can range from high school to a masters degree depending upon the job.  Agents must pass a thorough background check, medical examination, drug test, and fitness test.  New hires are sent for 55 days of training at the CBP Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M. The training includes immigration and nationality regulations and laws, Spanish, physical fitness and marksmanship.  There is an additional 40 days for those who need to master Spanish.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents must work overtime and shift work hours often under very harsh conditions and they are subject to random drug tests. Their assignments can be for a short duration or permanent reassignments to any duty location. Every Agent starts their assignments along the Southwest border. They are ultimately responsible for preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. border, and can confiscate various items that maybe smuggled into our country.

For this article, I interviewed three U.S. Border Patrol Agents from varied backgrounds; all were GS-12s and they replied to the following questions:

  1. Name of Agent, job title and grade.
  2. Why did you join the Border Patrol?
  3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  4. What would you say to a young person that would make them want to      work for the Border Patrol?

Here are the interviewee’s answers:

1.  Name of Agent, job title, and grade.

Jacopo Bruni, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.  Why did you join the Border Patrol?

I always had an interest in Law Enforcement. As a recent college graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, I was looking for a career that would bring adventure, challenges, and satisfaction. The Border Patrol gave me the opportunity to work in my field of study, to see and live in a new part of the country, and to be part of something bigger: the agency responsible with protecting America at the frontline.

3.  What is the most rewarding part of your job?

There are many challenges in the environment we work in. I have found that if you want to be successful, you must work as a team.  The most rewarding part of my career is taking on a difficult task with a team of hard working individuals with different backgrounds to overcome challenges and accomplish goals.

4.  What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?

If you are an ambitious, hardworking, and persistent person, you are off to a good start, because you will need all these traits to be successful.  Our core values are Integrity, Vigilance, and Service to Country. If these align with your own personal values, you will find this career very rewarding.

1.    Name of Agent, job title and grade.

Michael Scappechio, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.    Why did you join the Border Patrol?

Ever since I was a young kid, I knew, and was told by others, that I would work in public service. I had always considered law enforcement, but began to pursue a path in Emergency Medical Response and firefighting.  When I was 18, I began volunteering for a city fire department. Within the department, I met a Border Patrol Agent who explained his career to me. The pride he exuded for the work he did, and the stories that he told made the United States Border Patrol an instant attraction.

3.    What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Simple. Every day is different, and every day is spent with professionals who share a common goal and passion for their work. I am confident that this career will continue to provide this type of work environment for the long haul. In addition, the laws that we enforce and the strategies that deploy are designed to protect America at the first line of defense. Being a part of the effort to protect this country gives me great pride.

 4.    What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?

I was young when the Border Patrol accepted me into their work force. The agency has provided me invaluable skills such as interpersonal, organizational, leadership and public speaking skills. They trusted me, and judged me by my performance, not my age. They provided me premier training, and continue to do so on a regular basis. Through our valuable mentorship program, and career-growth resources, advancement opportunities continue to present themselves. The sky’s the limit. For these reasons, I feel an overwhelming sense of loyalty and appreciation for my agency. They’ll have to kick me out.

1.    Name of Agent, job title and grade.

Matthew Trombley, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.    Why did you join the Border Patrol?

I wanted to join the Border Patrol because every Border Patrol Agent I ever spoke with really enjoyed their job. The wide range of opportunities the Border Patrol offered really interested me. For example, the average Border Patrol Agent has opportunity to perform a vast array of duties such as line watch duties, checkpoint duties, boat patrol, bike patrol, horse patrol, ATV patrols, sensor duties, prosecutions duties the list goes on.

3.    What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Each day as a United States Border Patrol Agent will present itself with various unknown challenges. Overcoming these challenges and gaining experience how to deal with the next challenge while completing the mission of the Border Patrol is very rewarding.

4.    What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?           

I really enjoy my job with the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol is more than a  job it will be a job you will want as a career and a job that will become a way of life.

Part two of this series is about CBP Officers. Here are several links, one is to a vacancy announcement specifically for CBP Officers, and the other talks about their hiring initiatives:

The men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are our first defense against our borders from terrorists and others whom may want to do harm to the United States.  Their dedication, loyalty, and integrity are unsurpassed in the fight against enemies both foreign and domestic.

If you are interested in a border patrol job you should explore your options and also consider  related federal law enforcement jobs in your area. Seek out all federal job announcements and apply for any vacancy that you meet the basic qualifications for.

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 Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Law Enforcement jobs

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Posted on Monday, 11th August 2014 by

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You want to be a carrier in the post office, but which position is best for you?

Rural Carriers all begin their career as Rural Carrier Associates (RCA).  These positions are part-time, every Saturday and any time the regular carrier needs off work. In most offices, you will have to provide your own vehicle, in which you get paid an Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) on top of the hourly wage.  The average hourly wage is $16.00 per hour.  RCA’s do not receive health benefits, but they elect to pay for their own health benefits after one year of employment.  RCA’s are eligible for annual and sick leave.  RCA’s are eligible to “bid” on regular rural carrier positions in their office when an opening is available.  Sometimes, it can take a long time to become a regular rural carrier. Once you become a Regular Rural Carrier, then you will begin receiving health benefits, annual, sick leave and can contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.  Rural Carriers are not paid an hourly wage.  The routes are evaluated; this is determined by a yearly mail count, your pay will be based on the evaluation of the route.

In some cities/towns, the rural carrier can drive as much as 100 miles per day.  You will have to drive on the right hand side of the vehicle, so you would need an appropriate car.  Some offices provide their rural carriers with a postal vehicle, but in most cases you would need your own.  As a carrier, you are out in all types of weather; ice, snow, rain, etc. You have to be prepared for any type of weather. Rural Carriers usually spend about 2-3 hours in the office casing their mail and 4-5 hours out on the street.  Of course, every day is different; it all depends on the mail volume.  Mondays and the day after a holiday are usually high volume mail days.  If you like driving a vehicle and being outside, this is the job for you.

City Carriers for the most part, do not drive a vehicle to deliver their mail.  They may drive a postal vehicle to carry their mail and then do what is called a “Park and Loop”.  They will park the vehicle and then get out and walk for several blocks delivering the mail house to house.  One of the offices I worked in, we had two city carriers; one of them walked 18 miles a day and the other walked 4 miles a day.   You carry your mail in a mail sack that can weigh up to 40 pounds, it’s always nice to get to that last neighborhood, the mailbag is much lighter.  Being a City Carrier, you also will be working in all types of weather; snow, ice, hot, humid, etc.  You will need to be prepared for all types of inclement weather.

City Carriers have to wear a uniform and will receive a uniform allowance every year to purchase the clothes that are required.  Full-time City Carriers receive health benefits, annual, sick leave and can contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.

The Postal Service hires City Carrier Assistants (CCA), which is a part-time position.  The average pay for a CCA is $15.00 an hour.  They are hired to work 365 days and then can be reappointed provided they are performing well.   CCA’s earn 1 hour of annual leave for every 20 hours worked.  They also qualify for health benefits after the 90-day probation.  Unlike the RCA’s, CCA’s are not eligible to bid on City Carrier positions, if a City Carrier position is posted on eCareer, CCA’s would have to apply on eCareer and compete with everyone else.

Both positions would require taking the 473 Entrance Exam.  See http://postalwork.net/eCareer_Guide.htm for a step-by-step process for applying and taking the exam. A postal exam study guide titled Post Office Jobs, the 5th edition, helps you prepare for the exam and it is available at bookstores or check out a copy from your local library.

For more information on rural mail carrier and city post office jobs, including the latest postal pay scales, visit www.postalwork.net.

Good Luck to all on your endeavors to work for the United States Postal

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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, Job Vacancies, Post Office Jobs

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Posted on Friday, 1st August 2014 by

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Over the past several years, we’ve all read or seen numerous media reports about the ever shrinking pool of attorney positions available to law school graduates.  As a result of the sluggish economy, the private sector legal profession is reorganizing itself in dramatic ways to operate more efficiently in an environment marked by enhanced competition to obtain and retain clients.  In addition to holding down administrative costs and being more amenable to negotiated rates, private law firms are hiring fewer attorneys and contracting out many basic legal services.

There has been overall contraction in the number of new Federal sector attorney positions as well due to the cumulative effect of recent budget cuts and the heightened expectation of doing more with fewer resources. Nevertheless, the Federal government remains a viable employment alternative for law school students and graduates.

Anyone interested in pursuing a Federal sector position should take full advantage of their available law school resources, as well as contacting professors, current agency attorneys, and others willing to share their experiences and insights as to both pursuing an attorney position and what to expect once employed in that position.

What follows is a general description of the most effective ways to obtain that employment.

Legal Intern Position

Many agencies provide internship opportunities to students following completion of the first year of law school.  These internships are either paid or volunteer depending on the agency.  For example, the Department of Justice currently employs approximately 1800 unpaid interns and up to 70 paid interns. The best ways to become aware of these positions and their application requirements are through your law school placement office and the various agency websites.  Agencies commonly attend law school job fairs in order to gather resumes and conduct first-round interviews. Upon completion of a summer agency internship, students often receive opportunities for continued Federal experience throughout the school year.  These internships expose students to the internal workings of a General Counsel’s Office and, in many cases, provide much greater responsibility than they could obtain in the private sector.  Even though the vast majority of these jobs are unpaid, the experience gained can prove invaluable. Perhaps more importantly, students who perform highly during the internship can gain a decided advantage in the selection process for an Honors Attorney or other entry level attorney position upon graduation.

Honors Programs

Several agencies conduct an Honors Program designed to recruit top third-year law students, as well as recent graduates and judicial law clerks.  These Programs typically rotate attorneys through the various areas of agency legal practice over a two year period and offer a salary that exceeds entry-level pay.  Although permanent employment is not guaranteed, many of these agencies use the Honors Program as the primary source for filling attorney positions on a permanent basis.  Each agency website includes a wealth of information about their program details, including when to apply and what to expect if you are selected.  Some of the more notable Honors Attorney Programs are those offered by the Department of Justice, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Security and Exchange Commission.  For detailed information about which agencies offer such programs see this list provided by American University, Washington College of Law.

Entry Level Application

Recent law school graduates, particularly those with germane experience as a law clerk, may also find attorney positions for which they qualify through the usajobs.gov website or on the job postings portal of the particular agency(s).  Since attorney positions are in the “excepted service,” i.e., excepted from competitive examining, agencies may solicit applications through whatever mechanisms they determine to be most efficient including legal publications, newspapers, and job fairs.  Recent graduates may also be able to obtain a legal position through the relatively new Pathways Program. Those hired pursuant to the Recent Graduates portion of the Pathways Program enter a structured developmental program generally lasting one year.  At the program’s conclusion, the participant may be converted to a permanent position assuming successful completion of the requirements and the availability of a position.

In addition to the resources referenced above, please see the extensive information provided at http://www.psjd.org/Careers_in_Federal_Government.

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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 Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Student jobs

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Posted on Monday, 7th July 2014 by

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Many apply for federal jobs each year. How can you stand out from the crowd when you apply? There are many ways for you to get at the head of the line if you know a few of the tricks of the trade.  Many applicants simply don’t follow the explicit “How to Apply” directions that are available with every federal job announcement and end up submitting inferior applications that don’t make the grade; literally. With the new Category Rating application evaluation process if you don’t make it to the “Best Qualified” list you won’t be considered for the position.

Why is it that some who land jobs with Uncle Sam have half the experience, education, and special qualifications that you have — and you’re still looking? Many who approach the federal sector fail because they didn’t take the time to understand the federal hiring process. Others get frustrated by the required paperwork and give up prematurely.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take your time and learn how to apply before going online and submitting your first federal resume and application. Many simply go to USAJobs.gov and start submitting their resumes without knowing the significant differences between a private sector and federal resume and lose out in the process.  The following tips that can help you make the interview list:

  • Looking for federal jobs takes time and patience and it is best to apply early and often.  Applications can take six to eight weeks or even longer for processing after the closing date. It can take even longer if written tests are required. From the time you first identify an opening to actual interviews and hiring can take months in some cases even under recent hiring reform initiatives.  There is a new twist to this scenario, many agencies are issuing federal job announcements with short open periods, often a  week or less,  because they receive so many applications. It will still take time after the closing date to process and rate all applications. However, if you don’t check for vacancies frequently you may miss out on good opportunities.
  • Many apply for only one job announcement. Seek out all available job vacancies and continue to send in applications with every opportunity. Don’t limit yourself to USAJobs.gov. This excellent site does advertise the majority of all federal jobs, however, you may be passing up job opportunities in your own back yard by not visiting individual agency recruitment sites in your area.  Also review consolidated job listings that include federal, state, and private sector job vacancies for your occupation.
  • Read the job announcements thoroughly. These important documents provide all of the information you need to apply including qualifications required for the position. When I say read it thoroughly I mean word for word and don’t stop if at first you feel you don’t meet the qualifications. Many jobs, especially in the administrative and management fields, often require a BS degree OR 3 years of general experience for an entry level job.  Many applicants read BS degree and immediately think they won’t qualify; keep reading and you may be surprised that your work experience is as valuable, in many cases, as a 4 year college degree.
  • Prepare a professional and comprehensive federal resume and application. Too many applicants take shortcuts and revert back to the private sector resume format ─ a HUGE mistake.  The most popular application method today is the federal resume, for a number of reasons. First, most people are familiar with resumes and secondly, with the increase in online submissions, the resume format makes the most sense because it is easy to copy and paste from your federal  resume into online resume builders.  The differences are significant. Considerably more detail is required for the federal resume and if you don’t provide the required federal resume information  your application may be rejected. At the very least you risk not being placed in the highest category rating and less likely to be referred to the selecting official.
  • Prepare for the job interview. Today, the selecting official can interview as few or as many applicants in the “Best Qualified ” list as they desire.  Learn about the agency by visiting their web site and learning about their mission and current activities. Most publish press releases that will also help you understand their mission and responsibilities.  Even under the best of conditions, interviews are often intimidating, and going to an interview without knowing the “rules” can be downright frightening. Understanding the  interview process will help you throughout your career and just knowing what to expect will improve your mental stability as well.

In the final analysis, agencies hire someone who has the abilities and talents for the position.  It is up to the applicant to demonstrate they are the right selection by submitting a comprehensive and thorough application package and by doing well in the interview. Don’t leave the interview to chance. Proper preparation can mean the difference between success and failure.

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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.

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Posted in Applying For Jobs, Civil Service Tests, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Jobs, Job Interviews, Job Vacancies, Resumes / KSAs

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Posted on Wednesday, 28th May 2014 by

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The GS-1800 federal investigation occupational group includes positions with duties to administer, advise, supervise, or perform various investigations, inspections, or law enforcement duties. Federal agents and inspectors investigate suspected and alleged criminal offenses against the United States, or perform activities to determine compliance with various federal laws and regulations. The investigation group includes a broad cross section of occupations from general and criminal investigators to customs, immigration, safety and food inspectors and everything in between including securities compliance and air safety.  

If you have law enforcement or compliance related experience, an associated college degree, or soon will earn one, there are many opportunities for you to explore. For those who are still pursuing a degree definitely seek out federal agency internships that often end with a full time high paying job. Many law enforcement, investigation, compliance, and inspection job announcements are now available across the country and overseas. Federal, State, and local governments along with private sector companies are competing for qualified applicants. In the federal sector agencies can offer tuition assistance payments of up to $60,000 for hard to fill vacancies as a bonus for signing on with Uncle Sam.

Opportunities are currently available in many fields. A recent search on USAJobs resulted in 1260 job vacancies listed on 103 job announcements, many with multiple locations and positions. For example, the Department of Agriculture is hiring over 1,000 Food Safety and Inspection jobs through June 30th at many locations with a salary range of from $31,628 to $50,932 per year. The Department of Labor is hiring 23 Mine Safety Inspectors at multiple locations and the Department of  Homeland Security is hiring many Transportation Security Officers around the county with a salary range of from $29,422 to $44,134 per year.

To access all available jobs in this group on USAJobs.gov perform the following steps:

  • click on “Advance Search” listed under the blue Search button.
  • Then click on “Occupational Series or Job Category.”  A list of all job series will be displayed on your screen.
  • Enter “1800″ in the “Search For Occupation(s)” block and click on enter. This will display “Series 1800″ in the  search results box.
  • Click on the check box next to the 1800 entry and click enter.
  • Go the bottom of the page and click on “Search Jobs”

All currently available job announcements for this group will be displayed.

Review the list and click on the title of a job of interest to view the job announcement, qualifications, and application procedures.

Register on USAJobs to start your federal job search. Also, don’t be discouraged if the job announcement qualifications require a BS degree and you don’t have one. Continue reading the announcement and you will find in many cases that the requirement is a BS degree OR 3 years general experience! Many exclude highly desirable jobs because they don’t read the entire job announcement.  

The above search is limited to the federal sector, you should also explore similar or related occupations with State and local government and in the private sector.

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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 Jobs, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Law Enforcement jobs

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Posted on Sunday, 4th May 2014 by

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Federal Civil Service Internships

The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) were replaced by the Internship Program in 2012. The Internship Program provides high school students, and college students up to and including graduate level, with the opportunity to explore careers and work with pay at agencies while attending school.  Students who successfully complete a civil service internship may be eligible to convert to a permanent federal civil service job. During my federal career, spanning over 35 years, we hired many students who successfully completed the program and landed federal jobs with tremendous career advancement opportunities.

Students are eligible to apply for federal civil service internships if they are currently attending  an accredited high school, college, junior college and community colleges; technical, professional,  vocational, and trade school; advanced college and university degree programs; or other qualifying educational institutions pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate.

Federal Internship Program Requirements

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Interns may be converted to a permanent position (or, in some limited circumstances, to a term position lasting 1-4 years) within 120 days of successful completion of the program. To be eligible for conversion, Interns must:

  • Complete at least 640 hours of work experience acquired through the Internship Program
  • Complete their degree or certificate requirements
  • Meet the qualification standards for the position to which the Intern will be converted
  • Meet agency-specific requirements as specified in the Participant’s Agreement, and Perform their job successfully.

Agencies may waive up to 320 of the required 640 hours of work for federal civil service interns who demonstrate high potential as evidenced by outstanding academic achievement and exceptional job performance.

In addition, students working in agencies through third-party intern providers may count up to 320 of the hours they work toward the 640 hour requirement. Time spent under previous Internship Program appointments may count towards required work experience hours.

Seven Steps to Finding Federal Civil Service Internships

1.      Determine which civil service occupations would be suitable for your course of study. High school students can identify their target career choices. OPM’s comprehensive Federal Occupations by College Major list is available to help you identify occupations suitable for your internship. 

2.      Find internship and summer work job vacancy announcements on OPM’s www.USAJobs.gov  recruiting site.  Enter “Internships” in the Keyword box and then enter your city, State or zip code in the Location box and click on search.  If you are looking for summer jobs enter “summer” and click on search. Select a vacancy announcement of interest, print it out, and read it top to bottom. The job announcement lists the required qualifications, pay, benefits, and all of the information that you need to apply.  If you meet the qualifications apply for the position. Apply for all internships that you meet the qualifications for to improve your chances.   

3.     Expand your search. If you can’t find suitable vacancies in your area call local agency human resource offices to determine when they anticipate recruiting interns in your area. Use your local phone directory’s blue page government office listings or search online for agency offices in your area.  You can also contact the Federal Executive Board office for your area and discuss internship options with the manager and/or his staff.  They meet frequently with representatives from the majority of agencies in their area and often know about upcoming vacancy announcements.  Search for internships in federal, state and the private sector to expand your options.

4.     Complete a thorough federal resume and application. Unlike the private sector, a federal resume for an entry level position can be from 3 to 5 pages or more. All federal resumes must be tailored to the job announcement.  If you attempt to use a standard one page private sector resume your application may be rejected. Your federal civil service application and resume, in most cases, must be submitted online. Set up an account online and start your resume as soon as possible and before applying for your first job. Many job announcements are only open for a short period, from several days to a week or more.  You can store up to 5 different resumes online and you can save and automate job searches after you register. 

5.       Include academic achievements, class projects, and student activities in your federal resume to highlight your accomplishments, motivation, and drive. Include membership in organizations such as Toastmasters International, class room projects, reports, membership in professional organizations for students, and other activities that showcase your accomplishments.  You can review sample federal resumes and learn how to prepare one in the 11th edition of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs. This title was recommended by Library Journal and it is available at many libraries.   

6.      Explore ALL job options. If your future degree will be in the professional or technical area don’t exclude administrative positions to get your foot in the door. The majority of administrative positions require either a BS degree or 3 years of general experience to qualify for a GS-5 position.  You won’t have either as an intern however when you graduate you will meet the basic qualifications for those positions as well. After you get your foot in the door you can apply for internships that open up for your specialty.

7.      If you don’t land the first federal civil service internship you apply for don’t get discouraged.  Submit multiple applications for all job vacancies in your area and learn from your rejections.  Ask selecting officials if other positions will be available in the future and what you can do to be best qualified next time around. Many neglect to search for vacancies after their first application; check for new vacancies weekly and remember they are only open for short periods so be prepared to submit a new application in a minutes notice.  

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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 councelors, 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, Student jobs, Veterans Preference

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