Posted on Saturday, 10th February 2018 by

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COBRA. Medical. Dental. Home. Automobile. Life. Long Term Disability.

While insurance matters are important for all workers, they are critical for mid-career workers who have been fired or laid off. All let go workers must address insurance maters as soon as practicable. Life goes on after you lose your job, and so do the risks that you face every day. Adverse events never get laid off or take a vacation. Many workers think insurance matters are boring but when it comes to reducing risk, which is what insurance does, boring matters become important. In today’s world insurance has become a necessity along with food, shelter and clothing.

We live in a risky world. On any given day one could contract a life threatening disease like cancer, suffer a long-term debilitating and costly illness like Lyme’s Disease, or have a car accident resulting in serious personal injury and substantial property damage. Your living space, your house or apartment, is at risk, too. A hidden electrical malfunction could burn your dwelling to the ground and destroy all of your personal possessions in the process. Risk is omnipresent and insurance is the best way to hedge against it.

Every person, regardless of social status or employment status, needs the protection that insurance offers. The most important types of insurance are: medical, dental, life, long term disability, automobile and homeowners. Health problems rank at the top of our risk ladder, and every let go worker must hedge against them. We’ll examine each type of insurance beginning with the medical insurance option known as COBRA.

THE CONSOLIDATED OMNIBUS BUDGET RECONCILIATION ACT. COBRA

COBRA is a federal government program that enables workers to continue their medical insurance coverage after being let go. However, there are strict rules governing its implementation. For example, workers who are fired for gross misconduct are not eligible. Also, companies that employ fewer than twenty workers cannot participate in the plan.

While COBRA is a helpful risk-lowering federal government medical insurance plan, you must pay the entire cost of the plan plus an administrative fee when you are laid off. If your company group medical insurance premium was $5,000 and split between you and your employer, now you are responsible for paying the entire premium plus the 2 percent administrative fee. Generally, you must apply for COBRA benefits within sixty days after being separated. Benefits last for 18 months and will cover you, your spouse and children. However, as with all government programs, the rules and regulations are constantly changing so act immediately if you elect to choose COBRA benefits. For current rules and regulations regarding COBA, speak with your former employer’s human resources director and review the Department of Labor website, www.dol.gov.

Caution! Do not assume that you will find another job with medical insurance benefits and pass up the chance to use COBRA. Your period of unemployment could go on for six months or more and you cannot be without medical insurance for that long a period.

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides an array of choices for individuals seeking medical insurance. Your options are contingent upon your income and state of residence. This controversial government program is highly political and subject to modification at any time.

Cost is critical when assessing what to do about medical insurance after leaving the company. Learn what a medical insurance policy offered through the ACA insurance exchanges would cost and compare it with the cost of the insurance policy offered by COBRA. For information and updates on the Affordable Care Act in your State go to this website: www.healthcare.gov.

DENTAL INSURANCE

I speak from personal experience on this matter. One fine day I was talking an early morning bike ride when I unexpectedly hit a patch of damp road. Down I went striking my face on the pavement. The result? Two front teeth were cracked beyond repair and had to be replaced with dental implants. The cost? $5,000….and I had no dental insurance.

Dental problems can arise without notice on any given day. We are always at risk for infections that require costly root canals, and for teeth damaged by accidents. For a realistic account of what can happen unexpectedly, talk with your dentist.

If you had dental coverage in your last job, by all means try to extend coverage while you are out of work. If you did not have it, go online and look for reasonably priced dental insurance. Most dental plans are limited to group coverage through an employer, but there are a handful of dental insurance companies offering individual plans. Delta Dental is one of them. It offers individual plans and is noted for its generous coverage at modest cost. Check it out at www.deltadental.com. Another reputable insurer offering individual dental insurance is MetLife, a multiline insurer that has been in business since 1868. Their website is www.metlife.com.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE

When out of work, many workers try to minimize expenses by cutting insurance coverage on their homes or apartments. They say, “It will never happen to me. I’ll cut my coverage while unemployed and pick it up after I get another job.” Don’t buy into that narrative. Homeowners carrying a mortgage do not have a choice because the mortgager requires coverage and in most cases it is factored into the monthly mortgage payment. However, if you own property outright or live in an apartment, coverage is optional. Do not eliminate this coverage. On any given day your residence could burn to the ground and take all of your belongings with it. On another given day, someone could trip over a rug in your apartment, fall, and incur serious personal injury. You will be responsible for payment of all medical expenses and possibly be sued for negligence. Homeowners insurance may seem to be an option when you are out of work but it is not. It is a necessity in today’s world.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Automobile insurance is required if your car is financed and the premium is usually built into your monthly payment. In all States, proof of financial responsibility, i.e. automobile insurance, is required. You must present proof of coverage when you apply for or renew your license plates every year. Do not even think about skirting the rules and discontinuing premium payments after you receive your state license believing that you will never get into an accident if you drive extra carefully. Once again, risk is with you 24/7. Automobile insurance is a necessity.

Many workers try to reduce their premiums by signing on for the minimum required coverage but this is a grave mistake. Your personal injury liability coverage should be nothing less than one million dollars per accident, and property damage should be five hundred thousand dollars for each accident. In addition, coverage should include medical payments which will pay for medical bills for all passengers riding in your car who might be injured in a collision. For an extra ounce of protection, include uninsured motorist coverage because there are drivers on the road with no coverage whatsoever. Listen to the advice of your auto insurance agent and proceed accordingly.

LIFE INSURANCE

“Why life insurance?” you might ask. “I’m in the prime of my life and I’m not going to die in the foreseeable future.” Think again. Your life could end at any time during the day or night, regardless of your age, leaving your dependents or extended family with expenses that could reach beyond their means. Burial expenses come to mind. Today, the average cost of your funeral, including the cemetery grave plot and head stone, is $13,000, sometimes more depending on location. Add some upgrades like a fancy coffin and elaborate headstone and the cost of your good- bye will run over $15,000. The following story illustrates how risky life is.

Sandra’s Story

I recruited Sandra for a job as a Reading Consultant with an educational publisher where I was Regional Sales Manager for the Midwestern United States. Sandra excelled in her job and was sought after by school districts implementing their new Reading programs.

She belonged to a number of fine and preforming arts organizations in Chicago. She was an officer in the Junior League and performed volunteer work for the Art Institute. Her teen age daughter was the pride and joy of her life and attended only the best schools.

As Sandra entered mid-career, she and her husband frequently took skiing trips to Aspen and Vail in addition to vacations in Europe and the Caribbean. Life was good for Sandra. In February 2015, they went on a five day ski trip to Vail Colorado and returned home tired and happy. However, Sandra seemed more tired than usual after five days on the slopes and scheduled an appointment with her doctor to see is she needed a dose of vitamins to keep up her energy level. As a precaution, her doctor ordered lab tests and an abdominal CT scan. He called them, “routine.” However, the “routine” tests indicated that Sandra had pancreatic cancer. Surgery followed and so did death, seven weeks after diagnosis. Sandra possessed intelligence, energy and passion beyond the ordinary, but death does not play favorites. To this day, she is missed by her family, husband, daughter, friends and former coworkers. They still ask, “How could she have died in the prime of her life…without forewarning?” Rest in peace, Sandra.

There are several types of life insurance. The most common, and the lowest in price, is called “term life insurance,” which is what most employers provide for their employees. It terminates as soon as you are fired or laid off. When you walk out the door after being let go, you are no longer insured. Purchasing term life insurance should be a priority for all let go workers. It is readily available from any number of life insurance companies at reasonable cost. Conduct an online search for low cost term life insurance and purchase it immediately. Dying is not cheap. Death never takes a vacation. Plan accordingly. Buy life insurance….now.

LONG TERM DISABILITY INSURANCE (LTD)

The story goes something like this. “I don’t need LTD insurance because a disabling accident will never happen to me.” Most of us delude ourselves into thinking that accidents resulting in long term or permanent disability always happen to the other guy. I fell into this trap in mid-career, too, and but for the guidance of an extraordinary insurance saleswoman I would not have survived financially. Here’s my story.

Chicken Man

It was a beautiful early autumn morning and I was riding my bike through a rural area in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The area was dotted with small farms, some of which raised chickens. While riding past a farmhouse with chicken coops nearly reaching the road, a chicken darted from weeds growing along the shoulder of the road and ran into the front wheel of my bike. I had no time to outmaneuver this fast moving beast and down I went. I suffered a fractured pelvis, a torn rotator cuff, a concussion (despite wearing a helmet), and multiple lacerations, contusions and abrasions. I was disabled for six months following fourteen days in the hospital, surgery, and intensive physical therapy. During that time, I had no income or disability payments from my employer. The expenses, however, continued as usual. I was responsible for home mortgage payments, car payments, insurance payments, food, clothing, medicine, college tuition bills for three children and so on.

I would have defaulted on the mortgage, car loan and tuition payments but for a long-term disability insurance policy that I had purchased from Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. and which had become effective only three days before the accident. That policy covered almost one hundred percent of my expenses during my disability. Without it, I could not have survived financially. Here’s the rest of the story.

Joanne, my insurance agent who sold me life insurance and homeowners insurance, had been after me for months to buy a long-term disability insurance policy because my employer did not provide one. I told her that I was in good health and that I did not participate in risky pursuits like mountain climbing or sky diving so my needing long-term disability insurance was minimal. “Wrong.” she said. “On any given day, you could be hit by a truck and become incapacitated for the rest of your life. Long-term disability is more important than life insurance for individuals with family responsibilities. Chances of incurring long term disability for a middle age person are much greater than dying.” I refused to listen to Joanne but she kept after me until in a moment of frustration I said, “Okay, Joanne. Get off my case! Write up the policy and don’t bug me anymore.” She did just that and three days later, I was hit, not by the proverbial truck, but by the chicken. Thanks, Joanne, for taking time to educate me about the risks we face every day.

Many insurers provide LTD coverage but most are for group plans through employers. Two reputable companies that provide individual LTD insurance are Northwestern Mutual, www.northwesternmutual.com and Unum, www.unum.com. Go online and check out their LTD options and prices.

MOVING FORWARD

Most people consider insurance a boring topic, one to be relegated to last place in the broad scheme of things. The unexpected illness or accident always happens to someone else. Don’t fool yourself. Consider the insurances detailed above as much a necessity as food, shelter and clothing. In today’s world you cannot live without it. Reduce your risk and implement these action items regarding insurance.

  • Apply for COBRA medical insurance immediately after being separated from your employer.
  • Consider an Affordable Care Act (ACA) policy or a private medical insurance policy as an alternative to COBRA.
  • Purchase LTD, auto, homeowners and life insurance….now. All are equally important for mid-career workers. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, an automobile accident occurs every 60 seconds. And, reliable sources tell us that most accidents resulting in personal injury occur in or near your home.

PRINT AND DIGITAL RESOURCES

For detailed information on COBRA. www.COBRAinsurance.com
For information about the costs associated with your funeral. www.Parting.com
For information about funeral insurance. www.funeralwise.com/plan/costs
For information about disability insurance policies. www.insure.com/disability-insurance
For information and updates about the Affordable Care Act. www.healthcare.gov.

For more information about managing your personal finances after being fired or laid off, read my book, Moving Forward in Mid-Career, A Guide to Rebuilding Your Career after Being Fired or Laid Off, c2018, Skyhorse Publishing Inc. Enter this link for purchasing sources. http://skyhorsepublishing.com/titles/12831-9781510722019-moving-forward-in-mid-career.

John Henry Weiss
Author

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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 Employees, Uncategorized

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Posted on Wednesday, 7th February 2018 by

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When Congress can’t agree on a budget, government shutdowns are likely to occur. So what does a shutdown mean for many of us – social security checks (thankfully) are not impacted and our military folks and troops will remain at their posts. Additionally, the medical industry – doctors, nurses and hospitals will continue to receive Medicaid and Medicare payments and other ‘essential’ workers like our Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration and Border Patrol Agents will stay on the job. However, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will not be going to work; so what about the museums, parks, zoos, and the like that the public enjoy? If Congress can’t reach an agreement we will ‘all’ feel the impact in one form or fashion in our personal or professional lives, or both.

For those federal workers that are furloughed, back pay is provided for as long as the government is closed; however, this is not a guarantee. Although lawmakers pass legislation to ensure compensation for federal workers during a lapse in appropriations, there is always ‘chatter’ of its uncertainty, particularly given a new administration. For those essential employees (performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or protection of property), they will be ‘excepted’ from such a shutdown furlough and expected to work. Political appointees are part of the Title 5 leave system, and therefore, not subject to furloughs so they will work during a shutdown as well. Each agency decides how to notify their employees as well as determine their status – whether excepted or not.

Health benefits continue to be provided to federal employees during a shutdown, per OPM. Federal Employees enrolled in a Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI) will receive coverage for 12 months without any additional costs to the employee or agency. Likewise, the Long Term Care Insurance Program that some federal workers have will continue with covered premiums, but automatic payroll deductions will cease during a furlough for participating employees. Federal Employees Retirement (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement (CSRS) individuals will continue to receive annuity payments and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) will operate normally given a shutdown; however, furloughed employees that are TSP enrollees will be unable to make contributions but they can still request a financial hardship withdrawal.

So, there is the good, the bad and the ugly in all of this, but how much does a shutdown really cost? In 2013, for example, a 16 day shutdown cost the government over $2.5 billion in lost productivity. Also, the numerous financial impacts surrounding those losses associated with National Park and Museum fees are extensive. Finally, contracts, stop work orders and temporary layoffs throughout the federal community are plentiful during a furlough since these operations are usually suspended.

For more information on Furloughs, their impact, and the current status of the latest Continuing Resolutions, read Federal News radio’s article titled “Here is How a Shutdown Affects Your Pay and Benefits.”

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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 Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Friday, 19th January 2018 by

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Working as a Financial Manager (GS-0510) with the Federal Government

The federal government employs 13,078 in this occupation of which 79 work overseas. The DOD is the largest employer of this series with 2,409 accountants, the VA employs 775 and the  Department of the Army employs 1,067 civilians in this category. This series is used in all cabinet level departments, most large agencies and many small agencies.

This series covers positions that advise on or administer, supervise, or perform professional accounting work that requires application of accounting theories, concepts, principles, and standards to the financial activities of governmental, quasi-governmental, or private sector organizations. The work includes:

  • series covers positions that advise on or administer, supervise, or perform professional accounting work that requires application of accounting theories, concepts, principles, and standards to the financial activities of governmental, quasi-governmental, or private sector organizations. The work includes designing, developing, operating, or inspecting accounting systems;
  • prescribing accounting standards, policies, and requirements;
  • examining, analyzing, and interpreting accounting data, records, and reports; or
  • advising or assisting management on accounting and financial management matters.

Accounting theories, concepts, principles and standards address these types of duties:

  • determining the boundaries of an accounting entity;
  • recognizing and measuring revenues;
  • matching revenues and expenses by applying methodologies such as accrual accounting and depreciation;
  • defining and measuring costs by applying methodologies such as standard, process, job-order, and activity-based costing; and, full disclosure on financial statements.

Government Requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary for a GS-7 to 9 is $35,359 to $81,541 per year

Typical Duties & Occupational Profile:

Financial Managers perform data analysis and advise senior managers on profit-maximizing ideas.  Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Duties

Financial managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare financial statements, business activity reports, and forecasts
  • Monitor financial details to ensure that legal requirements are met
  • Supervise employees who do financial reporting and budgeting
  • Review company financial reports and seek ways to reduce costs
  • Analyze market trends to maximize profits and find expansion opportunities
  • Help management make financial decisions
  • The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Financial managers’ main responsibility used to be monitoring a company’s finances, but they now do more data analysis and advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top executives.
  • Financial managers also do tasks that are specific to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on government appropriations and budgeting processes, and healthcare financial managers must know about topics in healthcare finance. Moreover, financial managers must be knowledgeable about special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.

The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Financial managers’ main responsibility used to be monitoring a company’s finances, but they now do more data analysis and advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top executives.

Financial managers also do tasks that are specific to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on government appropriations and budgeting processes, and healthcare financial managers must know about topics in healthcare finance. Moreover, financial managers must be knowledgeable about special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.

The following are examples of types of financial managers:

Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization’s financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments of their organization.

Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization’s budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds and carry out strategies to raise capital (such as issuing stocks or bonds) to support the firm’s expansion. They also develop financial plans for mergers (two companies joining together) and acquisitions (one company buying another).

Credit managers oversee their firm’s credit business. They set credit-rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collections of past-due accounts.

Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash in and out of the company to meet business and investment needs. For example, they must project cash flow to determine whether the company will have a shortage or surplus of cash.

Risk managers control financial risk by using strategies to limit or offset the probability of a financial loss or a company’s exposure to financial uncertainty. Among the risks they try to limit are those that stem from currency or commodity price changes.

Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company’s losses by obtaining insurance against risks, such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or the costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master’s degree, preferably in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although professional certification is not required, some financial managers still get it to demonstrate a level of competence. The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree, 4 years of work experience, and pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credential to those who pass an exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience. Certified public accountants (CPA’s) are licensed by their state’s board of accountancy and must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Financial managers usually have experience in another business or financial occupation. For example, they may have worked as a loan officer, accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.

In some cases, companies provide formal management training programs to help prepare highly motivated and skilled financial workers to become financial managers.

Advancement

Experienced financial managers can advance to become chief financial officers (CFOs). These executives are responsible for the accuracy of an entire company’s or organization’s financial reporting.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly are assisting executives in making decisions that affect their organization, a task that requires analytical ability.

Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.

Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.

Organizational skills. Because financial managers deal with a range of information and documents, they must stay organized to do their jobs effectively.

(Some of the above information was excerpted from the Bureau of Labor ooh.gov website)

GS-0510-Financial Management Analyst/Accountant/Auditor 
General qualifications excerpted from job Announcement # DE-10047630-17-SMS.

Duties

The selectee for this position will serve as a Financial Management Trainee with the Financial Management Career Program (FMCP).

The Financial Management Trainee Program (FMTP) is a 24-month training program for entry-level financial managers referred to as “Trainees.” To qualify for this program, you must have earned a qualifying bachelor’s degree within the past two years. Recent college graduates are hired by the FMCP for the DON as entry-level (GS-7/9/11) financial management analysts, accountants, and auditors (job series 501, 510, and 511, respectively). Trainees are officially assigned to the FMCP but are stationed at various Navy and Marine Corps activities, referred to as “Homeports,” throughout the DON. Following successful completion of their 24-month training program, Trainees graduate from the program and are considered for placement in suitable positions at their Homeports.

“The Financial Management Associate Program (FMAP) is a 24-month program for mid-level financial management personnel referred to as “Associates.” To qualify for this program, you must have earned a qualifying master’s degree within the past two years. Recent college graduates with relevant financial management analyst experience are hired by the FMCP as DON mid-level (GS-9/11/12) Financial Management Analysts, Accountants, and Auditors (job series 501, 510, and 511 respectively). Associates are officially assigned to the FMCP but are stationed at various Navy and Marine Corps activities, referred to as “Homeports.” Following successful completion of their 24-month program, FMAP Associates graduate from the program and are considered for placement in suitable positions at their Homeports”.
This is a Financial Management Level I certified position per the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012, Section 1599d. This certification level must be achieved within prescribed timelines. Certification requirements are outlined in the DoD Instruction 1300.26.

Qualifications

The Direct Hire Authority for Financial Management Experts in the Department of Defense is used to appoint qualified candidates who possess a finance, accounting, management, or actuarial science degree, other related degree, or equivalent experience, to certain positions within the competitive service

Applicants applying to the Accountant or Auditor positions must meet the following basic education requirement:

Degree: accounting; or a degree in a related field such as business administration, finance, or public administration that included or was supplemented by 24 semester hours in accounting. The 24 hours may include up to 6 hours of credit in business law. Combination of education and experience: at least 4 years of experience in accounting, or an equivalent combination of accounting experience, college-level education, and training that provided professional accounting knowledge. The applicant’s background must also include one of the following:

1)Twenty-four semester hours in accounting or auditing courses of appropriate type and quality. This can include up to 6 hours of business law;

2) A certificate as Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Internal Auditor, obtained through written examination.

3) Completion of the requirements for a degree that included substantial course work in accounting or auditing, e.g., 15 semester hours, but that does not fully satisfy the 24-semester-hour requirement of paragraph A.

(a) the applicant has successfully worked at the full-performance level in accounting, auditing, or a related field, e.g., valuation engineering or financial institution examining;

(b) a panel of at least two higher level professional accountants or auditors has determined that the applicant has demonstrated a good knowledge of accounting and of related and underlying fields that equals in breadth, depth, currency, and level of advancement that which is normally associated with successful completion of the 4-year course of study described in paragraph A.

(c) except for literal nonconformance to the requirement

of 24 semester hours in accounting, the applicant’s education, training, and experience fully meet the specified requirements.

Additional information

This position is covered by the Department of Defense Priority Placement Program.

This position has promotion potential to the GS-11 (Trainee Program) or GS-12 (Associate Program) grade. If selected below the full performance level, incumbent may be noncompetitively promoted to the next higher grade level after meeting all regulatory requirements, and upon the recommendation of management. Promotion is neither implied nor guaranteed

Job Prospects (Excerpted from Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor)

Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, growth will vary by industry.

Services provided by financial managers, such as planning, directing, and coordinating investments, are likely to stay in demand as the economy grows. In addition, several specialties within financial management, particularly cash management and risk management, are expected to be in high demand over the next decade.

In recent years, companies have accumulated more cash on their balance sheets, particularly among those with operations in foreign countries. As globalization continues, this trend is likely to persist. This should lead to demand for financial managers as companies will be in need of cash management expertise.

There has been an increased emphasis on risk management within the financial industry, and this trend is expected to continue. In response to both the financial crisis and financial regulatory reform, banking institutions will place a greater emphasis on stability and managing risk rather than on maximizing profits. This is expected to lead to employment growth for risk managers.

The depository credit intermediation industry (which includes commercial and savings banks) employs a large percentage of financial managers. As bank customers increasingly conduct transactions online, the number of bank branches is expected to decline, which should limit employment growth in this sector. However, employment declines are expected to mainly affect clerical occupations, such as tellers, rather than financial managers. From 2016 to 2026, employment of financial managers is projected to grow 14 percent in this industry.

As with other managerial occupations, jobseekers are likely to face competition because there are more applicants than job openings. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance—particularly those with a master’s degree or certification—should enjoy the best job prospects.

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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 Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Interviews, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Overseas Jobs

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Posted on Wednesday, 10th January 2018 by

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Would you like the opportunity to avoid traffic, decrease your commuting costs and work from home? Then perhaps telework is for you!  Telework enables employees, like yourself, to work from home, or at a remote center one or more days per week. You will utilize phones, fax, computers, modems, teleconferencing, emails and more, in order to complete your  normal duties at your home or remote location. With a flexible arrangement and supervisory approval, an agreement can be formulated between you and your supervisor outlining tasks, meeting attendance, goals and objectives and more.

The beauty of telework is that with its flexibility, you can tailor it to you/your organization’s needs to ensure it is a win-win for both parties. Performance can be measured through completed assignments, milestones, meeting participation, and goals and objectives, etc. Telework can reduce stress, increase productivity and foster a more rewarding work-life balance; try it…you’ll be glad you did!

According to telework.gov, “Telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g., home, telework center).  At its core, telework is people doing their work at locations different from where they would normally be doing it.”

Review available telework options and resources for both employers and employees who are currently engaged in, or interested in pursuing telework as a flexible opportunity. In order to balance individual and mission needs and requirements, OPM provides a wealth of telework information on https://www.telework.gov/ that is searchable, current, and detailed. Individuals can obtain a variety of data; specifically, there are updated reports, like the 2017 Status of Telework in the Federal Government Report, which offers an overview of Federal telework programs and provides updates on the continued telework progress within the Federal Government. Also, organizations like OPM, GSA, GAO and others provide reporting and analysis as part of a comprehensive telework portfolio.

There is an external link for teleworking and dependent care guidance provided by Human Resource Directors with a focus on the ability to telework as a flexible opportunity for those caring for others, such as children or adult dependents. Telework can provide these individuals with the ability for them to respond to critical health, well-being and/or daily living activities for their loved ones, while meeting mission requirements and individual work needs. The Telework Enhancement Act link on the site provides information specific to employees with disabilities who wish to telework; both from an employer and employee perspective.

OPM’s site even provides a sample “request” for telework for those employees seeking this opportunity with their employers. Since managerial approval is a requirement, a brief, written proposal can provide a business case for telework if done correctly. The proposal should include an explanation of why you want to telework, the benefits to the organization and yourself, and specific job responsibilities that will be performed while on telework. Additionally, skills, knowledge and abilities should be discussed that will support independence, good communication, as well as organization and planning. Along with an explanation of the home office or environment describing where and how the work will be performed, equipment should also be addressed. A clear, flexible schedule with milestones and deadlines will round out the request and show initiative; perhaps offering a trial period (one day a pay period) to start will offer an opportunity for your employer to “evaluate” the arrangement before agreeing to a commitment.

Best practices for agencies along with a myriad of success stories throughout the federal government and private sectors offer insight into impact, cost savings, retention and more. A variety of guidance and legislation involving telework is also provided on OPM’s telework site  to include: pay and leave, performance management, security and IT, agency roles and more.

Finally, federal resources such as announcements, training courses, samples, newsletters and articles serve as reference tools and working aids for those interested in participating in telework, and for those who want to expand upon their original success with this option. Recommendations on work schedules, performance management documentation as well as communication options are discussed on the site as part of a holistic and successful telework program. Training programs, coursework, webcasts and more round out the network of resources provided in this one location.

References

Career Planning Tools 

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

Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Thursday, 28th December 2017 by

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The President signed an Executive Order to implement the January 2018 pay adjustments and the new pay charts were released this week.  The Executive Order authorized a 1.4 percent across-the-board increase for statutory pay systems and locality pay increases costing approximately 0.5 percent of basic payroll, reflecting an overall average pay increase of 1.9 percent. The actual pay will vary according to which locality pay area he or she is assigned.

Locality pay adjustments are designed to level the playing field for federal employees working in different major metropolitan areas. The 47 locality area salaries are adjusted by comparing General Schedule and non-Federal pay in each locality pay area, based on salary surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following 47 locality area charts are now available, click on the one for your area to see the new 2018 federal GS pay charts. You will also find rates for all other groups including, wage grade occupations, special compensation systems, and physician’s comparability allowances.

Locality Pay Chart List

Helpful Career Planning Tools

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

 

Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Monday, 18th December 2017 by

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There are times when workers find themselves walking in a dark cloud of anxiety or even depression after being fired or laid off. They look for slivers of daylight but find nothing but more darkness. The universe seems unresponsive. They do not want much, maybe just someone who says, “I understand where you are. Just take my hand and I’ll help you out of this mess.” That person may be a career coach, career counselor, or an outplacement service, all career care providers.

Reaching out to a career care provider takes courage, understanding, and a good deal of common sense. Where do you find them? What do their services cost? What are their qualifications? And what do these outplacement services really do? All are valid questions. Let’s deal with career coaches and counselors first.

CAREER COACHES AND CAREER COUNSELORS

Go online and enter “career coach and career counselor,” and you will find an array of hits naming specific individuals, with or without titles. Some are named Joe Smith, Life Coach, or Mary Jones, Executive Career Counselor, or Robert Brown, PhD. Who are the successful ones? Who are the pretenders? Let’s look for answers to help you see daylight, to find a break in the dark cloud.

Career coaches are providers who are solution oriented. They focus on helping clients define career objectives, like finding an industry that includes nonprofit companies where passion for the mission is as important as bottom line. They exude a spirit of optimism, educate you about the job market, and show you how to navigate your way through the world of work. Most will help you craft a resume and provide job-hunting rubrics. Some are former human resources directors or executive recruiters. Almost all have experience working in the corporate world.

Career counselors perform many of the same services as career coaches but extend their efforts to uncovering any emotional, behavioral, or psychological barriers that might impede your search for the meaning of work and a new career. Some are certified psychologists or former human resources directors or both. Many hold a master’s degree in counseling and are certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. They can help you work through complex issues, like why it is that you always have problems with authority figures like your former boss.

All career coaches and career counselors charge a fee for their services, which are delivered by phone, Skype, email, or in face-to-face meetings. The fees can range from $75 to $500 for a forty-five- or sixty-minute session. Some career coaches and counselors offer package deals that contain a certain number of sessions spread out over a certain amount of time. Others offer their services on an as-needed basis. Personal sessions will cost more than phone sessions. Specialized sessions will cost more than general sessions. For example, some providers work only with executive-level clients, like former presidents, CIOs, CFOs, or CEOs, whose career searches target positions of like kind. Fees for such clients will be considerably higher.

Few coaches and counselors will advertise their fees online, which means that everything is negotiable. Do not hesitate to negotiate a mutually acceptable fee with a provider. Do not be intimidated by a fancy shingle like “Dr. Aldus Geronimo, Certified Career Counselor.” Everyone is open to negotiating fees . . . even PhDs.

Career counseling services provided by a certified psychologist or psychiatrist may be covered by your medical insurance. Check with your career care provider and insurance company.

Assessing Provider Credentials

The background and experience of coaches and counselors vary widely. Some have no formal training while others have had training at bricks-and-mortar institutions. Many have completed online certification programs. The most reputable coaches and counselors have written certifications for successfully completing coaching and counseling programs. Here are some of the more reputable training organizations for career coaches and counselors. All award written certifications for successful completion of training courses. Use the information provided by these resources to assess the credentials of career coaches and counselors.

International Coach Federation (ICF), www.coachfederation.org. This is a highly regarded coaching organization that provides online certification courses for coaches. Access this site for information about the coaching business generally and about suggestions for finding the right coach or counselor that will suit your needs.

National Career Development Association, www.NCDA.org. This respected organization dates back to 1913 and provides not only credentialed programs for coaches, but also assistance for those seeking help in a particular location. For example, go to the website and enter your home zip code in the box beneath the section titled “Need Career Help?” and you will find the names and contact information for coaches and counselors within a fifty-mile radius of your home.

Those who successfully complete the NCDA career coaching program receive the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) certificate. When you are interviewing prospective coaches, always ask if they have this certification.

Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW C/C), www.parw.com. This organization provides intensive career coaching training and awards those who successfully complete the course with the Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) credential. In addition, PARW C/C offers credentials to coaches who complete training for interviewing techniques and for resume writing, and it offers help for those starting their own businesses.

The Academies, www.theacademies.com. The founder and CEO of this organization is Susan Whitcomb, an author and expert trainer for career coaches. Her work is frequently quoted in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Coaches who are trained at the Academies are well versed in all facets of career building. Earmark coaches with the Academies certifications.

AARP, www.aarp.org. For a low membership fee of $16 per year, workers age fifty and over can access their many benefits. One of them is career counseling for unemployed workers or for workers making a career change.

HOW TO SELECT A CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR.

Select a career coach using the same common-sense rules that you would apply in making any serious business decision. They are:

  1. Make a plan that defines your needs and expectations from a coach or counselor.
  2. Contact your network for referrals to professionals specializing in your field of interest and expertise.
  3. Go online to find providers in your local area.
  4. Interview each person on your list, personally or by phone.
  5. Learn the coach’s fee structure and how payments are structured.
  6. Ask for referrals to their previous or present clients.
  7. Ask for a written statement describing their experience in coaching including how many assignments they have completed.
  8. Learn their education background including career coaching certification.
  9. Learn if they provide a trial counseling session.
  10. Review the extent of their business experience.

Coach Selection Resources

There are online resources that provide information about career coaching generally and about criteria for selecting the right person. Here are three reliable sources.

International Coach Federation (ICF), www.coachfederation.org, is the premier global organization for training life and career coaches

NOOMII. The Professional Coach Directory, www.NOOMII.com. This online service   recommends coaches based on your stated goals.

Kathy Caprino, Women’s Career Coach and Leadership Trainer, http://kathycaprino.com.

Kathy is one of the most celebrated career coaches in the world. She was laid off in mid-career and after much soul searching started her own business focusing on career training and coaching. She offers a free subscription to her weekly newsletter and valuable rubrics for moving forward in your career. Be sure to read her article “The Top Five Regrets of Midlife Professionals.”

Career coaches and counselors are typically caring individuals who are passionate about lending support and direction to laid-off or fired workers. Many have had that experience and understand your predicament. When it seems that you are nearing the end of your own self-help resources, reaching out to a coach or counselor is a wise decision.

OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES

Outplacement is not a mom-and-pop business; rather, it is a large industry with national or multinational companies in its fold. Employers frequently provide bricks-and-mortar or virtual outplacement services for mid-level and above workers they let go. This service is expensive and costs the employer upwards of $5,000 per each let-go employee. For high-level executives, outplacement services could cost the employer as much as $25,000 per executive. If your employer did not include outplacement in your severance package, you can purchase it as an individual.

The traditional outplacement service consists of group sessions in an office setting. Weekly or semi-monthly group sessions held at an office location and spearheaded by an experienced leader/teacher, offer much-needed support for laid-off or fired workers. A spirit of mutual support and assistance are invaluable aids to the let-go person still working through the grieving period or in job hunting mode. It is reassuring to know that you are not alone in this battle. I myself can attest to the effectiveness of this model, having attended group outplacement on-location in Philadelphia after having been laid off from a technology consulting firm that was purchased by a competitor. For example, when I reported to the group leader, he took me into his office for a private counseling session. That was followed by a half-day group meeting with other laid-off workers where we exchanged experiences and offered each other support and direction. Six weekly meetings followed. Our leader provided excellent rubrics for crafting a resume and tips for interviewing. We devoted part of our weekly meetings to reviewing a wide array of companies in the area who were potential employers. Also, we had access to computers and could immediately go to the Internet to access potential employers using the rules we had just learned in class. Most helpful in my experience was the group interaction. I learned that I was not the only one in a tough spot. The entire experience hastened my trip through the grieving process. Try to find an outplacement service that still offers that kind of personal service.

Today some outplacement services are rendered online, by email, phone, Skype, or a combination of these options. Individual attention is what the current model advertises. Services included in most packages are general career counseling, resume preparation, interviewing techniques, industry and company evaluations, cover and follow-up letter writing, and referrals to recruiters or human resources directors. Most outplacement companies advertise one-on-one sessions focused on the items you select.

Outplacement Resources

To find an outplacement provider, use the same techniques suggested for finding a career coach. When you go online, make sure to localize your search. If you live in New York, try to find a service in the NY Metro area, not in San Diego. Here are several references to get you started:

  • Top Outplacement Firm Sites, top20sites.com/top-outplacement-firms-sites. This service ranks outplacement firms located in a specified geographical location, a valuable feature because working with a company close to home renders effective outcomes.
  • Quest Outplacement, questoutplacement.com. Quest offers a variety of one-on-one outplacement packages to individual let-go workers. The cost varies between $850 and $2,950, depending on the length of time and the support items offered. Their support is through phone and online tools. They do not provide an office location.
  • Lee Hecht Harrison, lhh.com. LHH is a multinational recruiting and outplacement firm with three hundred offices scattered throughout the United States and abroad. Home offices are in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. The company has been in business for fifty years and has a sterling reputation for quality service.

Always review the reputation of any outplacement firm using the following two sources, which provide references, recommendations, and evaluations that will help you make the right decision:

  1. Glassdoor, glassdoor.com
  2. Com, www.outplacing.com

FAITH BASED CAREER CARE PROVIDERS

Employing a career coach/counselor or an outplacement firm is a serious business decision. Finding the right provider, one with whom you connect personally and professionally, is key to a successful outcome. However, help does not stop here. There are additional services providers that tackle the career rebuilding process from a different perspective. These are faith based organizations, which are located in every community.

Being fired or laid off, especially when in mid-career, can be one’s worst nightmare. Political correctness refers to being let go as a challenge, but a fired or laid-off worker realistically calls it a problem, a huge problem, one that needs multiple resources to resolve. When the paycheck stops and you have bills to pay, like a home mortgage or apartment rent, property taxes, car payments, utility bills, insurance premiums, childcare, school or college tuition for the kids, and the unforeseen mega-bill for replacement of a heating system that quits in the middle of the winter, you have more than a “challenge.” You have a very serious problem.

Added to the monetary problem is the angst that accompanies being fired or laid off and the tension generated in the job-hunting process. What’s left is a worker who needs a comforting hand and down-to-earth friendship in order to move forward and out of the cloud of uncertainty.                                                                     Finding your way to a new career that offers a paycheck to keep the wolf from the door, plus job satisfaction, plus a sense of purpose, is a multifaceted problem requiring help from multiple sources. Career coaches, counselors, and outplacement services can help fix the multiple problems, but there are other resources as well.

      So where does one find support, the kind of support that not only offers practical solutions, but also addresses the various stages of the grieving process? Many work through it on their own. Others reach out to friends and family. And some workers, who can’t find their way out of the cloud on their own or with help from friends, turn to faith based resources such as:

  1. Career workshops offered by a local church or place of worship of any denomination.
  2. Discussion groups led by a staff member of the theology department of a college or university.
  3. Counseling sessions with members of the clergy.

Each option has merit. Knowing which to use will save time and result in a better outcome. Here’s a succinct review of each.

Local Church Counseling Services

Places of worship are noted for providing courses of every kind after Saturday or Sunday services and throughout the week. One does not have to be a member of a particular church to attend, but using the services of your own faith can be reassuring. All are welcome at all churches, at any time.

To learn what is being offered at a local church simply Google its name and look at the website. For example, I entered “Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.” What I found was an impressive list of services provided by the church staff, including personal counseling from a parish member whose credentials included an MBA from Northwestern and a master’s degree in counseling.

Workers living in medium and large cities throughout the country will find a host of career-related services provided by Jewish career services. For example, in Louisville, Kentucky, you will find a very active center, The Jewish Family and Career Services (JFCS). Its services include career counseling, job-hunting advice and leads for jobs in the local area and nationwide as well.

College and University Spiritual Resources

Some colleges and universities throughout the country have departments of divinity whose reach goes beyond academics. Staff members not only work with students in a traditional academic environment, but also reach out to the community. Outreach includes workshops on traditional theological topics and secular issues such as career planning and counseling for workers seeking support while unemployed.

Everyone who lives within reach of a college or university will find career-related initiatives that come in different flavors. Some are informal discussion groups; others are formal classes held on a regular schedule. For example, one such group is the Princeton Faith and Work Initiative, www.princeton.edu/faithandwork. It meets monthly on a pre-announced Saturday morning at Nassau Presbyterian Church, located on the Princeton New Jersey campus of Princeton University. It is led by Dr. David Miller, who earned his PhD in social ethics from Yale University after working in the private sector for sixteen years in business and finance with multinational companies in the UK and the US.

The group accomplishes its mission through a mixture of teaching, lectures, conferences, discussion groups, and research. Attendees include workers of all rank from companies representing multiple industries.

This is just one example of a spiritual resource from a college that sheds light on the relationship between work and faith, and offers support for workers seeking a new beginning in the workplace. Check online for a college or university near you that offers career related discussion groups or workshops.

Counseling from a Clergy Member

Advice and guidance are always available from clergy members of your local place of worship. Some clerics will hold one-on-one sessions for general counseling regarding the problems related to your unemployment status. Others will lead group discussions on career-related topics. These are caring, compassionate, and resourceful women and men whose mission is helping people connect faith, work, and family on life’s journey.

Some clergy members have broad and deep experience in the secular workplace acquired before they entered the ministry. Many have had teaching and counseling experience. Their networks include hiring managers from companies representing diverse industries. All are sympathetic listeners who offer not only sound advice, but also the hand of friendship to those in need.

MOVING BEYOND THE TEMPORAL

When all else seems to have failed, laid off workers have another option, seeking help from the God of their faith.

Throughout my career in the staffing business, I have witnessed events that have no logical explanation. After applying the rules for solving problems and coming up dry, I believe there must be something else working behind the scene that goes beyond the temporal into a realm that includes the supernatural, like a God, a Force, or the Universe. For our purposes let’s call that Supreme Being, God.

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes

So what does all of this have to do with job hunting? You may have heard the proverb “There are no atheists in foxholes.” The origin of this proverb is attributed to a World War II correspondent, Ernie Pyle, who reported what was happening on the front line of battle, a very unfriendly place.

For those not familiar with war jargon, here is what it means. When soldiers are on the battlefield and see bombs dropping and bullets flying, and witness their buddies to the left and right being blown to smithereens, these soldiers instinctively call on God to save their lives. Their prayers to God are ones of supplication: “God, please spare my life!”

Job hunting is much like fighting in the trenches as you may have experienced. Following that traumatic experience, being let go from your job in the middle of a career that you thought was forever, life has not been easy, especially the job-hunting part.  If you have been fighting on the battlefield of the workplace for six months or more with no success, you will get the analogy. Job hunting is not easy. It is not for the timid. It is not for the faint of heart. The competition is fierce. You never know when and where the next defeat will occur.

The proverb “There are no atheists in foxholes,” could easily read, “There are no atheists among job hunters fighting in the workplace for a few bucks to buy food, shelter, and clothing.”

God at Work

My experience as an executive recruiter is replete with examples that point to a Force working with workers who have made every conceivable effort on their own and with help from career counselors to find solutions to their unemployment challenges. I have named that Force working in the background The Job God.

Some might say “Oh my Lord, this is nuts, plain nuts, to posit that God has any interest in how we find work to provide food, shelter and clothing for our existence here on Earth.” Well, everyone has a theory about why things happen as they do, and our theory seems to be as plausible as those of counselors, economists, and others like Malcolm Gladwell.

Connecting

How do you reach out to your God? What do you say? How do you petition God for a favor such as success in finding a job? You might recall prayers learned in childhood religious training; you memorized them and recited them back to your parents or teacher. They meant little because they did not come from you. Even today, prayers we hear during religious services may sound contrived and hold little meaning. A meaningful prayer must come from you, from your inner core.

So how do you begin the prayer journey? By hastily fabricating one on your smart phone or iPad? Handwriting it on a sheet of paper in flowery prose? Anything will work, but we suggest composing your prayer in the vernacular of your faith. It does not have to be eloquent or put in writing. Make it conversational. Ask God’s help in the same way you would ask one of your friends for a favor. For example, immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Towers on 9/11, two Air Force fighter jets hurriedly took off from their base in Arizona and headed toward New York City and New Jersey to intercept any other attacks. The importance of getting there quickly was more important than fully arming the planes, so they took off semi-prepared. It was a dangerous mission. In a CNN interview with the pilots after the mission was completed, one of them told the interviewer they realized the extreme danger heading into combat without being fully armed, and as they were flying toward the action they prayed the pilot’s prayer, “God, don’t let me screw this up.” A prayer does not have to be eloquent, only sincere.

If you need examples that go beyond your own prayer, we offer these resources:

This article is an excerpt from my book, Moving Forward in Mid-Career. A Guide to Rebuilding Your Career after Being Fired or Laid Off.  It will be available January 9, 2018, in paperback or eBook from Skyhorse Publishing Inc., Amazon, Barnes & Noble and independent book stores.

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

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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, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Monday, 11th December 2017 by

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This series includes all positions that involve providing mediation assistance to labor and management in the settlement or prevention of industrial labor disputes connected with the formulation, revision, termination or renewal of collective-bargaining agreements. The paramount qualification requirement of all positions in this series is ability and skill in applying the techniques of mediation in dealing with the parties to a dispute. The application of these techniques in the settlement of industrial labor disputes needs knowledge of the field of labor-management relations, particularly of collective-bargaining principles, practices, and processes; understanding of economic, industrial, and labor trends, and of current developments and problems in the field of labor relations; and knowledge of applicable labor laws and precedent decisions.

(This series applies only to mediator positions in the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and in the National Mediation Board.) There are approximately 183 mediators employed in this series.

Federal Government Requirements:         

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary for a GS-13 is $89,285 to 116,068 per year

Typical Duties & Occupational Profile:

In the private sector a mediator is also referred to as arbitrators, and conciliators.

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system.

Duties

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators typically do the following:

  • Facilitate communication between disputants to guide parties toward mutual agreement
  • Clarify issues, concerns, needs, and interests of all parties involved
  • Conduct initial meetings with disputants to outline the arbitration process
  • Settle procedural matters such as fees, or determine details such as witness numbers and time requirements
  • Set up appointments for parties to meet for mediation or arbitration
  • Interview claimants, agents, or witnesses to obtain information about disputed issues
  • Prepare settlement agreements for disputants to sign
  • Apply relevant laws, regulations, policies, or precedents to reach conclusions
  • Evaluate information from documents such as claim applications, birth or death certificates, and physician or employer records

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators help opposing parties settle disputes outside of court. They hold private, confidential hearings, which are less formal than a court trial.

Arbitrators are usually attorneys, business professionals, or retired judges with expertise in a particular field. As impartial third parties, they hear and decide disputes between opposing parties. Arbitrators may work alone or in a panel with other arbitrators. In some cases, arbitrators may decide procedural issues, such as what evidence may be submitted and when hearings will be held.

Arbitration may be required by law for some claims and disputes. When it is not required, the parties in dispute sometimes voluntarily agree to arbitration rather than proceed with litigation or a trial. In some cases, parties may appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

Mediators are neutral parties who help people resolve their disputes. However, unlike arbitrators, they do not render binding decisions. Rather, mediators help facilitate discussion and guide the parties toward a mutually acceptable agreement. If the opposing sides cannot reach a settlement with the mediator’s help, they are free to pursue other options.

Conciliators are similar to mediators. Although their role is to help guide opposing sides to a settlement, they typically meet with the parties separately. The opposing sides must decide in advance if they will be bound by the conciliator’s recommendations.

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are usually lawyers or business professionals with expertise in a particular field.

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.

Education

Education is one part of becoming an arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator.

Few candidates receive a degree specific to the field of arbitration, mediation, or conflict resolution. Rather, many positions require an educational degree appropriate to the applicant’s field of expertise, and a bachelor’s degree is often sufficient. Many other positions, however, require applicants to have a law degree, a master’s in business administration, or some other advanced degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are usually lawyers, retired judges, or business professionals with expertise in a particular field, such as construction, finance, or insurance. They need to have knowledge of that industry and be able to relate well to people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Training

Mediators typically work under the supervision of an experienced mediator for a certain number of cases before working independently.

Training for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is available through independent mediation programs, national and local mediation membership organizations, and postsecondary schools. Training is also available by volunteering at a community mediation center.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There is no national license for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. However, some states require arbitrators and mediators to become certified to work on certain types of cases. Qualifications, standards, and the number of training hours required vary by state or by court. Most states require mediators to complete 20 to 40 hours of training courses to become certified. Some states require additional hours of training in a specialty area.

Some states require licenses appropriate to the applicant’s field of expertise. For example, some courts may require applicants to be licensed attorneys or certified public accountants.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must apply rules of law. They must remain neutral and not let their own personal assumptions interfere with the proceedings.

Decision-making skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must be able to weigh facts, apply the law or rules, and make a decision relatively quickly.

Interpersonal skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators deal with disputing parties and must be able to facilitate discussion in a calm and respectful way.

Listening skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must pay close attention to what is being said in order for them to evaluate information.

Reading skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must be able to evaluate and distinguish important facts from large amounts of complex information.

The occupational profile was excerpted from the Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor.

GS-0241-Mediator (Excerpted from USA Job Announcement)

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service promotes the development of sound and stable labor management relationships; prevents or minimizes work stoppages by assisting labor and management to settle their disputes through mediation; advocates collective bargaining, mediation and voluntary arbitration as the preferred process for settling issues between employers and representatives of employees; develops the art, science and practice of conflict resolution; assists government agencies in the effective use of alternative dispute resolution through support, training, and the provision of neutrals; and fostering the establishment and maintenance of constructive processes to improve labor-management relationships, employment security and organizational effectiveness.

Responsibilities

As a Mediator you will be responsible for promoting the development of sound and stable labor-management relationships by advocating the practice of collective bargaining, mediation and arbitration. You will also be responsible for fostering the establishment and maintenance of constructive joint processes to improve labor-management relationships and preventing or minimizing work stoppages through the use of mediation, relationship development training and other joint processes. Mediators also provide a wide range of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to help government entities reduce litigation costs, including mediation of discrimination and other claims, workplace conflict management training, facilitation, systems design and negotiated rulemaking. Additional duties for the incumbent include:

  • Mediating labor-management disputes involving initial or successor collective bargaining agreements in situations which range from a moderate degree of difficulty to those which are highly complex due to their economic impact, the number and difficulty of issues involved, the existence of an actual work stoppage or the imminent threat of one, and/or a history of difficult labor-management relations.
  • Performing research necessary to understand the dispute, the industry or field involved, the labor relations history of the parties and all other pertinent facts or background information. Works with parties to develop an understanding of the issues involved, as well as their interests and positions. Utilizing factual information and analysis of the overall situation, as well as knowledge of the mediation process and techniques, to determine the action or approach to be taken. Assisting parties in dealing with the media on sensitive matters of public concern.
  • Identifying opportunities and responding to requests to mediate significant grievances arising during the term of a collective bargaining agreement. Helping parties resolve disputes that might otherwise present obstacles in future rounds of collective bargaining. Improving labor-management relationships through the process of resolving significant and/or backlogged grievances.
  • Providing relationship development training (RDT) designed to help labor and management jointly improve their working relationship and the overall day-to-day labor-management relations climate. Assessing relationship and works with parties to develop and deliver customized training programs designed to enhance efficiency, productivity and job security. Utilizing a variety of program delivery methods, including live and/or web-based online collaborative processes where appropriate.
  • Mediating and/or facilitating a variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) matters for government entities, including discrimination claims, other workplace conflicts, regulatory compliance, regulatory negotiations, multi-party conflicts and other disputes which are of a particularly unique, difficult, or complex nature. Identifying potential customers and negotiates reimbursable agreements in coordination with supervisor.
  • Engaging in education, outreach and advocacy activities to increase awareness of FMCS conflict resolution services and programs. Utilizing creative approaches to identify and/or create opportunities to inform public about FMCS dispute resolution services.
  • In all service delivery areas, utilizing current and creative means and approaches to help parties resolve disputes and manage conflict; maintaining current knowledge and awareness of major developments in field of labor-management relations, ADR and conflict management, generally; keeping apprised of developments involving specific industries, occupations, and bargaining issues, as well as new techniques and theories involving ADR; collaborating with managers and mediators to develop new and innovative approaches.
  • Utilizing technology resources to accomplish the administrative and service delivery functions of the position. As the resources develop, utilizing new technologies and electronic communications platforms to creatively and efficiently accomplish the work, including, but not limited to, researching, scheduling meetings and conferences, training and delivering certain services using the newest software and web-based platforms. In the format established by the Service, mediators are responsible for making factual and timely reports regarding collective bargaining mediation, grievance mediation, relationship development training, alternative dispute resolution services and education, advocacy and outreach activities.

In order to be found qualified for the GS-13 Mediator position with FMCS; your resume must clearly reflect your full-time collective bargaining process experience. This experience can be gained by having served as the Chief/Lead Spokesperson/Second Chair/Benefits Expert (representing labor or management) in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements or while serving as a Mediator or Facilitator with parties engaged in the collective bargaining processes.

There is no education requirement for the government mediator job position.

Job Prospects (Excerpted from Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor)

Because arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators deal extensively with legal issues and disputes, those with a law degree should have better job prospects. In addition, lawyers with expertise or experience in one or more particular legal areas, such as environmental, health, or corporate law, should have the best job prospects.

Credits

Helpful Career Planning Tools

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

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

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Posted on Tuesday, 5th December 2017 by

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Individual Development Plans (or IDPs) are a critical piece of an employee’s career path. They are extremely beneficial in that they serve as a roadmap for career progression. Many organizations, to include the Federal Government, are making these a mandatory part of an employee’s overall performance plan. IDPs house anticipated training opportunities, goals, objectives and more; a personal career platform, employees have the ability to make it a sound projection. In addition, IDPs allow supervisors and managers to determine career expectations and provide supporting mentoring and/or coaching advice, as needed. IDPs are considered a partnership between the organization, the manager and the employee; expectations are provided, in writing, and goals and objectives are discussed and understood. Finally, IDPs candidly provide a strength and weakness assessment for individuals that are perhaps unsure of their career path and progression; they can then easily use the IDP to stay on track, develop and enhance skills, or acquire new ones.

Supervisors should encourage employees to develop IDPs, which leads to a thorough understanding of goals, needs, weaknesses, strengths, etc. It fosters motivation and encourages employees to take ownership and accountability of their careers. IDPs also serve as a talking point for managers and employees when reviewing skills, knowledge and abilities needed in order to perform particular work roles. Benefits of IDPs, overall, are vast; they enable identification and tracking of needs, goals, abilities and plans; they assist in the development of an organization’s training and manpower requirements; and they serve as the pillar in which an organization’s mission, goals and objectives are performed.

Managers and team leads, etc., can assess their skills and resources needed to perform particular tasks, missions and goals. The IDP serves many purposes as a resource tool; it can be used for hiring justifications to showcase the need for particular skills within the organization; it can be used for performance discussions with the employee; and it can serve as documentation in capturing milestones, achievements and benefits for both the employee and the organization.

Even though IDPs are not necessarily mandatory in all organizations, they are a critical and worthwhile tool for employees. Managers must do their due diligence with encouraging employees to take part in the opportunity; the value must be conveyed in addition to the myriad of opportunities for the employee.

IDPs don’t have to be formal; they can simply be crafted on a blank sheet of paper or email and discussed with the employee and their supervisor; the IDP, however, should serve as a living document so that employees can update as organizational goals and personal needs, change. At the minimum, an employee’s name, org, title and paygrade should be included along with short term and long term career goals. Dates should be included as milestone points throughout the IDP and linked to organizational objectives. Inclusion of training and personal development opportunities to include conferences, seminars, coursework, assignments, etc., are key; this roadmap should then be signed and dated by employee and supervisor. A complete set IDP planning forms and self assessment worksheets are available online that you can use in conjunction with any required employer program.

The IDP is your friend, it is a resource tool, a guideline and an opportunity for professional growth and development. For more information and assistance with taking part in an IDP process, visit www.fedcareerinfo.com. This site offers handouts, free downloadable forms and worksheets, IDP workbooks, presentations and personal discussion opportunities.

IDP & Career Planning Tools

References:

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

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Posted on Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 by

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Human resources (HR) specialists provide a variety of human resources management (HRM) services as well as consultation on the most effective alignment of HR systems to support strategic goals and objectives and produce the results that accomplish the agency mission. Management relies on these specialists and systems to help them apply merit system principles to attracting, developing, managing, and retaining a high quality and diverse workforce. Employees rely on these specialists and systems to provide information and assistance that sustain important features of the employer-employee relationship, such as employee benefits. These specialists provide products and services for a wide variety of employee categories that involve different systems with different statutory and regulatory authorities.

The federal government employs 27,736 human resource specialists of which 494 work overseas. The Department of the Army is the largest employer with 5,615 civilians employed followed by the Department of the VA with 3,492 and the Department of the Navy with 2,450. All cabinet level and large agencies employ this occupation in fairly large numbers.

The development of creative, results-driven approaches to recruitment and placement, strategic rewards, continuous learning, and employee and labor-management relations is an increasingly important function of the HR office. As a result of greater demand for strategic approaches, HR specialists have assumed an integral and critical role in planning and decision-making processes in addition to assuring that merit system principles are observed in executing HRM actions. Although this latter role is essential and fundamental, it has been significantly expanded in most HR offices to include advisory services essential to providing management with the tools necessary to properly plan, develop, organize, manage, and evaluate mission-oriented programs. This requires:

  • significantly heightened sensitivity on the part of the HR specialist to the mission and goals of the organization;
  • knowledge to identify HRM issues, problems, and opportunities potentially affecting the accomplishment of these goals; and
  • expertise with a wide spectrum of functional specializations and their interrelationships

Federal Government Requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary for a GS-12 is $72,168.00 to $93,821.00 per year

Typical Duties & Occupational Profile:

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Duties

Human resources specialists typically do the following:

  • Consult with employers to identify employment needs
  • Interview applicants about their experience, education, and skills
  • Contact references and perform background checks on job applicants
  • Inform applicants about job details, such as duties, benefits, and working conditions
  • Hire or refer qualified candidates for employers
  • Conduct or help with new employee orientation
  • Keep employment records and process paperwork

Human resources specialists are often trained in all human resources disciplines and perform tasks throughout all areas of the department. In addition to recruiting and placing workers, human resources specialists help guide employees through all human resources procedures and answer questions about policies. They sometimes administer benefits, process payroll, and handle any associated questions or problems, although many specialists may focus more on strategic planning and hiring instead of administrative duties. They also ensure that all human resources functions comply with federal, state, and local regulations.

The following are examples of types of human resources specialists:

Human resources generalists handle all aspects of human resources work. They may have duties in all areas of human resources including recruitment, employee relations, compensation, benefits, training, as well as the administration of human resources policies, procedures, and programs.

Recruitment specialists, sometimes known as personnel recruiters or “head hunters,” find, screen, and interview applicants for job openings in an organization. They search for applicants by posting listings, attending job fairs, and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references, and extend job offers.

Education

Applicants seeking positions as a human resources specialist usually must have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Coursework typically includes business, industrial relations, psychology, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some positions, particularly human resources generalists, may require previous work experience. Candidates can gain experience as human resources assistants, in customer service positions, or in other related jobs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many professional associations that specialize in human resources offer courses intended to enhance the skills of their members, and some offer certification programs. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). In addition, the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a range of certifications for varying levels of expertise.

Certification usually requires passing an exam, and candidates typically need to meet minimum education and experience requirements. Exams check for human resources knowledge and how candidates apply their knowledge and judgment to different situations.

Although certification is usually voluntary, some employers may prefer or require it. Human resources generalists, in particular, can benefit from certification because it shows knowledge and professional competence across all human resources areas.

Advancement

Human resources specialists who possess a thorough knowledge of their organization, as well as an understanding of regulatory compliance needs, can advance to become human resources managers. Specialists can increase their chance of advancement by completing voluntary certification programs.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Listening and speaking skills are essential for human resources specialists. They must convey information effectively, and pay careful attention to questions and concerns from job applicants and employees.

Decision making skills. Human resources specialists use decision making skills when reviewing candidates’ qualifications or when working to resolve disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, performing background checks, maintaining records of an employee grievance, and ensuring that a workplace is in compliance with labor standards.

Interpersonal skills. Specialists continually interact with new people and must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.

The occupational profile was excerpted from the Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor

GS-0201-Human Resource Specialist (Excerpted from USA Jobs Announcement)

Responsibilities

As a Human Resources Specialist you will have responsibility for providing operational services in the areas of recruitment/placement, classification, performance management, benefits, employee relations, labor relations, employee development & training, and HR Information Systems.

Typical assignments may include:

Recruitment and Placement – Advising management on recruitment strategies, sources, and special programs that emphasize affirmative action.

Classification – Developing and evaluating job descriptions by applying position classification criteria and supplemental guidance to determine title, series, and grade.

Employee Benefits -Administration of the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), FEHB, FEGLI, Long Term Care Insurance, Flexible Spending Account and the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) programs; administering the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) Program.

Performance Management – Providing advice, assistance, technical and policy guidance to management concerning their responsibilities throughout the rating cycle for appraising employee performance.

Employee/Labor Relations- Providing a full range of advisory services, assistance, and policy guidance to management officials and employees concerning all aspects of the labor-management and employee relations programs that include labor relations, disciplinary and adverse actions, performance-based actions, grievances (negotiated and administrative), appeals, drug-testing, and premium pay entitlements; supporting managers and supervisors on identifying and resolving complex personnel issues and other supervisor-employee relationships that tend to cause dissatisfaction.

Human Resources Development – Providing advice and assistance to management concerning determination of training needs, sources of needed training, planning to meet identified needs, and evaluation of results.

HR Information Systems – Providing technical advice and assistance on the design, implementation and operation of human resources (HR) automated systems.

Qualifications

To qualify at the GS-12 grade level:

Applicants must possess at least one-year experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 grade level in researching, interpreting and applying appropriate Federal laws, regulations, policies and guidelines in at least one human resources functional areas (e.g., recruitment and placement, classification, employee relations, labor relations, including performance management and employee benefits, and employee development & training and HR information systems).

Job Prospects

Job prospects for human resources specialists are expected to be favorable, particularly in companies that provide human resources services to other organizations.

Overall, candidates with a bachelor’s degree and professional certification should have the best job prospects.

Credits

Helpful Career Planning Tools

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

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

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Posted on Sunday, 29th October 2017 by

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There are many occupations in the federal government that require electronics technician skills both in the General and Wage Grade Schedules. The primary General Schedule (GS) occupation is the electronics technician GS-0856. The postal service also hires electronic technicians to service their mail delivery automation equipment.

The federal government employs 8,072 GS-0856 electronics technicians of which 222 work overseas. The Department of the Army, Air Force and Navy are the largest employers with 5,368 civilians followed by The Department of Justice with 806 and the Department of Transportation with 537. Many cabinet level agencies and a few large independent agencies such as NASA employ electronics technicians.

Many GS-0856 electronic technicians can qualify for related jobs such as system specialists with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the Transportation Specialist GS-2101 Series. These jobs require additional training at the FAA academy in Oklahoma city for each specialty. Randy Baldwin, featured in this article, and Dennis Damp, host of this service, spent many months in training at the academy throughout their careers first as a GS-0856 technician and later as GS-2101 system specialists. The GS-2101 series with the FAA offers work in automation, communications, navigation, and surveillance / radar occupations.

You will also find many opportunities in the WG-2600 Electronic Equipment Installation and Maintenance Family. This job family includes occupations involved in the installation, repair, overhaul, fabrication, tuning, alignment, modification, calibration, and testing of electronic equipment and related devices, such as radio, radar, loran, sonar, television, and other communications equipment; industrial controls; fire control, flight/landing control, bombing-navigation, and other integrated systems; and electronic computer systems and equipment.

There are 10,299 federal wage grade workers employed in the WG-2600 group of which 68 work overseas or in the U.S. Territories. The largest employers are the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force with 8,411 civilians employed.  The Veterans Administration employs 233, and the Treasury Department 144. Other cabinet level and a few large independent agencies employ small numbers of this group.

Additionally there are 866 civilians that work in the WG-3300 Instrument Work Family.

Interview with Randy Baldwin

Randy Baldwin started his federal government civilian career with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an electronics technician (GS-0856) after discharge from the U.S. Air Force and ended his career as a Special Projects Officer, GS-14, in Leesburg, VA. He was interviewed for this article to provide insight into this occupation.

 

Randy Baldwin

Mr. Baldwin had an extensive and diverse career with the federal government and after retiring he went on to start several successful companies including Just Write Laser Engraving.

He started his career in 1971 originally working for the Navy as an electronics Wage Grade technician. Since there were limited advancement prospects, he searched for positions in the GS-0856 job series. Randy applied for FAA positions in both the Eastern and Southern regions. He was originally hired in Athens, GA as a GS-856-09 electronics trainee. Randy said this was the best decision he could have made for career progression and to take care of his family. He retired at the GS-14 pay grade.

Randy’s last position, before retiring, was special projects officer. He states that every day was different from the next and a challenge. He represented the Eastern Region’s engineering organization. One of the projects he handled was initiating computer control monitoring of various  environmental systems, such as air, heat, and fuel. Another major project was coordinating the upgrade of all underground fuel storage tanks to both Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state standards.

Randy’s greatest challenge was successfully completing an Engineering Mathematics for Engineering Technicians home study course. Randy said that you had to pass the course. If you did not pass it, “you might as well look for another job.” Another course Fundamentals of Radar, was a four-month course in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Again, this was a make or break course for your career, as before he passed it and went on to bigger and better opportunities in the FAA.

The FAA invests considerable time and resources to training their specialists. To retain your position initially trainees must pass fundamental courses that impart the knowledge they will need for advanced systems training.

Randy emphasizes, to be successful “work hard and you will be rewarded. Apply yourself, do a good job and take pride in that. The reward may not come at once, and not even by the same people you currently work for.” Working hard is the best advice that Randy has to offer others.

Electronic Technician (GS-0856) Qualifications

The electronic technician series covers technical positions supervising, leading, or performing work involving applying:

  • knowledge of the techniques and theories characteristic of electronics, such as a knowledge of basic electricity and electronic theory, algebra, and elementary physics;
  • knowledge of electronic equipment design, development, evaluation, testing, installation, and maintenance; and
  • knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, operations, design, characteristics, and functional use of a variety of types and models of electronic equipment and systems related to, but less than, a full professional knowledge of electronic engineering.

Federal Government Requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary for a GS-12 is $79,720 to $103,639 per year

Typical Duties & Occupational Profile:

For this article we will cover electrical and electronics engineering technicians for the private sector.

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers and other electrical and electronic equipment.

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

Duties

Electrical engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Put together electrical and electronic systems and prototypes
  • Build, calibrate, and repair electrical instruments or testing equipment
  • Visit construction sites to observe conditions affecting design
  • Identify solutions to technical design problems that arise during the construction of electrical systems
  • Inspect designs for quality control, report findings, and make recommendations
  • Draw diagrams and write specifications to clarify design details of experimental electronics units

Electrical engineering technicians install and maintain electrical control systems and equipment, and modify electrical prototypes, parts, and assemblies to correct problems. When testing systems, they set up test equipment and evaluate the performance of developmental parts, assemblies, or systems under simulated conditions. They then analyze test information to resolve design-related problems.

Electronics engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Design basic circuitry and draft sketches to clarify details of design documentation, under engineers’ direction
  • Build prototypes from rough sketches or plans
  • Assemble, test, and maintain circuitry or electronic components according to engineering instructions, technical manuals, and knowledge of electronics
  • Adjust and replace defective circuitry and electronic components
  • Make parts, such as coils and terminal boards, by using bench lathes, drills, or other machine tools

Electronics engineering technicians identify and resolve equipment malfunctions and then work with manufacturers to get replacement parts. They also calibrate and perform preventative maintenance on equipment and systems.

These technicians often need to read blueprints, schematic drawings, and engineering instructions for assembling electronic units. They also write reports and record data on testing techniques, laboratory equipment, and specifications

Education

Programs for electrical and electronics engineering technicians usually lead to an associate’s degree in electrical or electronics engineering technology. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary institutions that serve local students and emphasize training needed by local employers.

Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework. Some of these colleges allow students to concentrate in computer electronics, industrial electronics, or communications electronics.

Prospective electrical and electronics engineering technicians usually take courses in ANSI C, C++ programming, Java programming, physics, microprocessors, and circuitry. The Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses.

Important Qualities

Logical-thinking skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians must isolate and then identify problems for the engineering staff to work on. They need good reasoning skills to identify and fix problems. Technicians must also be able to follow a logical sequence or specific set of rules to carry out engineers’ designs, inspect designs for quality control, and put together prototypes.

Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians use math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Mechanical skills. Electronics engineering technicians in particular must be able to use hand tools and soldering irons on small circuitry and electronic parts to create detailed electronic components by hand.

Observational skills. Electrical engineering technicians sometimes visit construction sites to make sure that electrical engineers’ designs are being carried out correctly. They are responsible for evaluating projects onsite and reporting problems to engineers.

Problem-solving skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians create what engineers have designed and often test the designs to make sure that they work. Technicians help to resolve any problems that come up in carrying out the engineers’ designs.

Writing skills. These technicians must write reports about onsite construction, the results of testing, or problems they find when carrying out designs. Their writing must be clear and well organized so that the engineers they work with can understand the reports.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers certification in electrical power testing. This certification would benefit those technicians working in the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry.

ETA International also offers certifications in several fields, including basic electronics, biomedical, and renewable energy.

The International Society of Automation offers certification as a Control Systems Technician. To gain such certification, technicians must show skills in pneumatic, mechanical, and electronic instrumentation. In addition, they must demonstrate an

understanding of process control loops and process control systems.

The occupational profile information was excerpted from the Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor.

GS-0856 Electronics Technician (Excerpted from USA Job Announcement)

Specialized Experience

These duties are relevant to a GS-09 to GS-13, and you must have at least one year of experience for the next successive grade.

GS-09

  • providing assistance with collecting and evaluating electronics equipment performance data.

GS-10

  • providing assistance with collecting and evaluating electronics equipment performance data
  • interpreting and analyzing designs, diagrams, and schematics to evaluate feasibility.

GS-11

  • providing assistance with collecting and evaluating electronics equipment performance data
  • interpreting and analyzing designs, diagrams, and schematics to evaluate feasibility
  • evaluating faults in the operational configuration of electronic systems and equipment.

GS-12

  • providing assistance with collecting and evaluating electronics equipment performance data
  • interpreting and analyzing designs, diagrams, and schematics to evaluate feasibility
  • evaluating faults in the operational configuration of electronic systems and equipment
  • developing designs, diagrams, and schematics for technical feasibility

GS-13

  • providing assistance with collecting and evaluating electronics equipment performance data
  • interpreting and analyzing designs, diagrams, and schematics to evaluate feasibility
  • evaluating faults in the operational configuration of electronic systems and equipment
  • developing designs, diagrams, and schematics for technical feasibility
  • analyzing and diagnosing faults in the operational configuration of electronic systems and equipment.

 

Job Prospects:

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program)

Employment of electrical and electronics engineering technicians is projected to decline 2 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Some of these technicians work in traditional manufacturing industries, many of which are declining or growing slowly. In addition, employment of these technicians in the federal government is projected to decline. However, employment growth for electrical and electronics engineering technicians will likely occur in engineering services firms as companies seek to contract out these services as a way to lower costs.

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians also work closely with electrical and electronics engineers and computer hardware engineers in the computer systems design services industry. Demand for these technicians overall is expected to be sustained by demand for workers in this industry because of the continuing integration of computer and electronics systems. For example, computer, cellular phone, and global positioning system (GPS) technologies are being included in automobiles and various portable and household electronics systems.

Job Vacancy Announcements

Helpful Career Planning Tools

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

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

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