Page updated 11/10/2016
Federal job announcements / Federal vacancy announcements
When applying for a federal job, applicants MUST read the Federal Job Announcement front to back. Recenlty the title changed to Job Opportunties Announcement (JOA), The JOA can be from 3 to 5 pages or more and explains everything you need to know to apply for that specific job. Every job announcement is unique, so don’t assume because you read one for the exact same job series and grade that the requirements are the same for this new job. This is especially true for the required key duties, responsibilities and specialized experience. Each advertised job has specific requirements such as proficiency and experience with computer software, equipment, programs, reporting systems, skills, and other factors.
Federal job announcements are issued by the Office of Personnel Management and by individual agencies that have direct hire or case examining authority. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issues JOAs for most agencies today however OPM does not advertise jobs for agencies that have direct hire or what is called Case Examining authority.
Federal JOAs are advertised for periods from several days to continuously open depending on the agency’s critical needs. Exceptions to these rules apply to Veteran Recruitment Appointments (VRA) and recently discharged veterans, disabled veterans, and the disabled. It is important to remember that you must submit all required information and forms that are listed in the job announcement. Online applications are used by most agencies today. If you don’t include all required information as outlined in the job announcement your application may be rejected, or at the very least you may not be rated in the top rated category if key data is missing.
Federal job announcements often have mandatory occupational questionnaires, some of which require answers to essay questions relevant to the occupation or skill sets that are needed to be successful in the position. To find open job announcements for your occupation and location search our Federal Job listings. Tailor your federal resume to the job announcement to improve you chances of being called for an interview. A typical announcement includes the following information:
A federal vacancy announcement comprises several parts, all of which must be read carefully. As a rule, all announcements posted on USAJobs.gov are uniform, meaning they have the same sections (just different information). The elements of a vacancy announcement are:
A resume must substantiate the answers to the self-assessment questions. Federal resumes cannot have “too much” information. Unlike in the private sector, applications for government jobs are like mini auto-biographies. The answers provided to the questions, substantiated by the résumé, are what federal HR specialists use to confirm minimum qualifications. HR specialists cannot assume anything; the number of years of experience is not enough information to demonstrate qualifications. Your résumé must fully explain what work you have done, for whom, for how long, and your specific role(s)/contributions.
While in the past, many vacancy announcements had a separate requirement for Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) statements, recent developments in federal hiring mandate that KSAs are no longer required for initial applications for Competitive Service positions as of November 1, 2010. Although written statements about the competencies/KSAs are no longer required at the initial application, agencies will be reviewing the résumés to determine if evidence of the job competencies are described in the application.
However, many agencies still require candidates to complete occupational questionnaires, some of which call for a candidate to answer essay questions similar to the traditional KSAs. Again, be certain to read and reread every announcement, as candidates often miss the occupational questionnaire and end up submitting a partial application.