Posted on Tuesday, 25th September 2018 by

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

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

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

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

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

References:

Career Planning Tools

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

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

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Posted on Sunday, 16th September 2018 by

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

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

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

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

References:

Career Planning Tools

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

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Wednesday, 29th August 2018 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Do you wish you were still working?

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

  1. What do you like best about being retired?

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

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

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

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

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

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 nor author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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

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Posted on Sunday, 19th August 2018 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

Career Planning Tools

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

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Posted in Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs

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Posted on Monday, 6th August 2018 by

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Federal employees will be able to see new changes surrounding the appeals process pertaining to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is an agency that is an independent part of the Executive Branch who governs the Federal merit system. It was established by the Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978 and codified by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), Public Law No. 95-454. The CSRA, effective in 1979, was a replacement for the Civil Service Commission. Three agencies surfaced as well as a result: Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), and the MSPB. OPM focuses on the federal work force and the FLRA oversees federal labor-management relations. The MSPB took on the employee appeals process and acquired new responsibility when it came to merit systems studies and OPM action reviews. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was a part of the MSPB but now works in the Executive Branch as an independent prosecutor for cases that are presented to the MSPB.

Two new bills that are surfacing focus on labor management relationships and removal of employees. Signed in May by the President, the appeals process would now be shorter for federal employees.  Agency leadership are able to bring an adverse action against a particular employee and they can respond within 7-21 days with an appeal for firing, required within the first 7 days.  Additionally, decisions on appeals must be rendered within 30 days, otherwise the original decision is valid. This MERIT Act, as it is called, also offers a probationary period extension for new hires of the federal government. Additionally, a 2 year extension would be applicable to any new senior executive. The reason behind the extension is to ensure proficiency in roles are demonstrated to supervisors who are making decisions on whether employees can become permanent or not. Also, the legislation will have the following effects: 1) Reduction in Force (RIF) and Disciplinary Action appeals would not include the negotiated grievance process; 2) Notification procedures for furlough appeals would be changed; 3) Annuity reduction for a federal employee felony convictions or civil service firing, and 4) Recoupment of bonuses and awards from said employees and executives.

A Re-authorization act was also approved that would impact appeals heading to the MSPB. Fees would be approved for collection for those appealing but not exceeding 50% of the fee required for filing a civil U.S. district court action. Fees can be waived and/or adjusted based on hardship at the board’s discretion. MSPB’s adjudication structure would also impact the burden of proof required to be shown in a disciplinary appeal; mitigation of actions will also be limited for the MSPB. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act are housed in this bill, allowing those in Title 38 to appeal to the board directly, instead of a judge.

Hurdles for federal employees may be raised with these bills, and both bills would have a difficult time in the Senate. You can read more about both the MSPB and the Merit Act at the following links:

Reference:

Career Planning Tools

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

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Posted in Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Qualifications

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Posted on Thursday, 26th July 2018 by

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This series includes positions the primary duties of which are to administer, supervise, or perform work in rendering from a foreign language into English or from English into a foreign language the spoken or written word where the objective is accurate translations and/or interpretations.

Government Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen to apply

The yearly salary for a GS-11 is $68,036 to $88,450 per year.

Duties

Interpreters and translators typically do the following:

  • Convert concepts in the source language to equivalent concepts in the target language
  • Compile information and technical terms into glossaries and terminology databases to be used in their oral renditions and translations
  • Speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, one of which is usually English
  • Relay the style and tone of the original language
  • Render spoken messages accurately, quickly, and clearly
  • Apply their cultural knowledge to render an accurate and meaningful interpretation or translation of the original message

Interpreters and translators aid communication by converting messages or text from one language into another language. Although some people do both, interpreting and translating are different professions: interpreters work with spoken communication, and translators work with written communication.

Interpreters convert information from one spoken language into another—or, in the case of sign language interpreters, between spoken language and sign language. The goal of an interpreter is to have people hear the interpretation as if it were the original language. Interpreters usually must be fluent speakers or signers of both languages, because they communicate back and forth among people who do not share a common language.

Translators convert written materials from one language into another language. The goal of a translator is to have people read the translation as if it were the original written material. To do that, the translator must be able to write in a way that maintains or duplicates the structure and style of the original text while keeping the ideas and facts of the original material accurate. Translators must properly transmit any cultural references, including slang, and other expressions that do not translate literally.

Translators must read the original language fluently. They usually translate into their native language.

Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and translators receive and submit most assignments electronically. Translations often go through several revisions before becoming final.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to become an interpreter or translator along with proficiency in at least two languages, one of which is usually English.

High school students interested in becoming an interpreter or translator should take a broad range of courses that focus on foreign languages and English writing and comprehension.

Beyond high school, people interested in becoming interpreters or translators have numerous educational options. Those in college typically choose a specific language as their major, such as Spanish or French. Although many jobs require a bachelor’s degree, majoring in a language is not always necessary.

Training

Interpreters and translators generally do not need any formal training, as they are expected to be able to interpret and translate before they are hired. However, those working in the community as court or medical interpreters or translators are more likely to complete job-specific training programs or certificates.

Continuing education is a requirement for most state court and medical interpreting certification programs. It is offered by professional interpreter and translator associations such as the American Translators Association and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters on a regular basis.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There is currently no universal certification required of interpreters and translators beyond passing the required court interpreting exams offered by most states. However, workers can take a variety of tests that show proficiency. For example, the American Translators Association provides certification in 29 language combinations.

The federal courts offer court interpreter certification for Spanish language interpreters. At the state level, the courts offer certification in at least 20 languages.

The National Association of the Deaf and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf jointly offer certification for general sign language interpreters. In addition, the registry offers specialty tests in legal interpreting, speech reading, and deaf-to-deaf interpreting—which includes interpreting among deaf speakers of different native languages and from ASL to tactile signing.

The U.S. Department of State has a three-test series for prospective interpreters—one test in simple consecutive interpreting (for escort work), another in simultaneous interpreting (for court work), and a third in conference-level interpreting (for international conferences)—as well as a test for prospective translators. These tests are not considered a credential, but their completion indicates that a person has significant skill in the occupation. The National Virtual Translation Center and many other organizations also have testing programs.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters offers two types of certifications for healthcare interpreters: Associate Healthcare Interpreter, for interpreters of languages other than Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin; and Certified Healthcare Interpreter, for interpreters of Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters offers certification for medical interpreters of Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese languages.

GS-1040 Translator

General qualifications excerpted from Job Announcement SV10193957

Responsibilities

  • Translates a wide variety of technical, legal, medical, and any other documents such as: medical records; legal briefs discussing issues of fact and law; etc.
  • Based on a thorough knowledge of titles II, VIII, and XVI of the Social Security Act, as amended, reviews and carefully selects documents that require translation based on the issues presented in the case.
  • Recommends alternative wording to resolve differences relative to the meaning of illegible entries.
  • Provides a full summarized or partial translation or abstracts of photocopies of articles from foreign language publications.

Qualifications

  • Applicants must have had at least fifty-two (52) weeks of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-9 grade level or higher in the Federal service that has equipped them with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of this position, and that is typically in or related to the work of this position
  • To be creditable, experience in translating, interpreting, or other work requiring the use of English and Spanish; or a combination of work (that required English and Spanish) and training at the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Service Institute, or comparable training.

Job Prospects

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

Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth reflects increasing globalization and a more diverse U.S. population, which is expected to require more interpreters and translators.

Demand will likely remain strong for translators of frequently translated languages, such as French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Demand also should be strong for translators of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages; for the principal Asian languages including Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Korean; and for the indigenous languages from Mexico and Central America such as Mixtec, Zapotec, and Mayan languages.

Demand for American Sign Language interpreters is expected to grow due to the increasing use of video relay services, which allow people to conduct online video calls and use a sign language interpreter.

Resources

Helpful Career Planning Tools

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

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

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Posted on Thursday, 7th June 2018 by

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President Trump recently signed an Executive Order that involves the process of firing “poor performing” civil servants. Additionally, the order limits funding power from the federal unions that were protections. Specifically three taskings associated with the orders are in place; these include: timing on poor performing civil servants and how long they have to correct behavior before being fired; the order also makes it hard for fired workers to move to another agency. Next, a Labor Relations Working group was created that will scrutinize government contracts with unions and omit any wasteful expenditures in the language. Finally, the third tasking restricts federal employee time limits on work for the union; it charges federal unions for space rented in buildings and stops their ability to utilize government travel reimbursements; this task also stops payments to unions related to Congress lobbying time.

 

 

During his Presidential campaign, Trump asked for a leaner, more efficient federal government “Tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” he said. This effort is in line with this new charge and is part of a broader effort to modernize the government, innovate, and eliminate bureaucracy. The finished product, therefore, would be a more mobile, lean, technically-savvy, workforce.

The focus of these changes promote efficiencies by increasing taxpayer dollar usage while supporting consistent, performing civil servants. Additionally the order makes it easier to remove poor performing employees and enables agencies to ensure taxpayer dollars are utilized more efficiently. Although there is pushback from many on this development, it is estimated that there will be a savings of at least $100 million a year for taxpayers. The President is also focusing on hiring the best and most ambitious employees with the largest overhaul of the civil service system in over 40 years. Modeled after the VA Accountability Act, this effort will offer greater authority to fire and/or discipline employees; for example, the VA dismissed 1470 employees, suspended 443 and demoted 83 with the use of this new authority.

Overall, changes were needed due to accountability; many public reports show that it takes close to 370 days on average to actually dismiss an employee in a federal government position. Between all of the discussions, performance observations, counseling, monitoring, preparation and follow up – yes, it can take that long. Additionally, employees have the right to appeal which adds even more time to the process.

Some federal employees (managers) also feel that this reform is long overdue; as they have chosen to ‘opt’ out of such opportunities that include these responsibilities given the lack of accountability. This new order will initiate actions and perimeters that can be set in place and mandated as policy. Managers and employees will have a greater set of expectations and understanding with these new directives; organizations can work to increase communication, information sharing and also utilize coaching and mentoring. Some private sector employees have routinely voiced their opinions in comparing private sector (firing) with that of the federal government; these changes make for a more balanced approach with one another….at least for now.

References:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/09/hire-best-and-fire-worst-trump-proposes-biggest-civil-service-change-40-years/315981002/

https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/03/heres-why-federal-employees-rarely-get-fired.html

Career Planning Tools

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

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Posted in Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Vacancies

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Posted on Thursday, 24th May 2018 by

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The Postal Inspection Service defends us from criminals who attack our nation’s postal system and/or misuse it to endanger, defraud, or otherwise threaten the American public. As the primary law enforcement arm of the Postal Service, the Postal Inspection Service is a highly specialized, professional organization performing investigative and security functions essential to a stable and sound postal system.

Congress empowered the Postal Service “to investigate postal offenses and civil matters relating to the Postal Service.” Through its security and enforcement functions, the Postal Inspection Service provides assurance to American businesses for the safe exchange of funds and securities through the U.S. mail; to postal customers in the transmission of correspondence and messages; and to provide postal employees with a safe work environment.

Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement officers who carry firearms, make arrests, and serve federal search warrants and subpoenas. Inspectors work closely with U.S. Attorneys, other law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors to investigate postal cases and prepare them for court. There are approximately 1,750 postal inspectors stationed through-out the United States, covering investigations of crimes that adversely affect or fraudulently use the postal system.

General Information

U.S. Postal Inspectors are federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction in all criminal matters involving the integrity and security of the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal Inspectors investigate criminal, civil, and administrative violations of postal-related laws, often using forensics and cutting-edge technologies. It is essential that Postal Inspectors be in sound physical condition and be capable of performing rigorous physical activities on a sustained basis. They are required to:

  • Carry firearms
  • Make arrests
  • Provide testimony
  • Serve subpoenas
  • Execute search warrants
  • Prepare comprehensive reports
  • Pursue and restrain suspects
  • Protect themselves and others from imminent danger

Postal Inspectors work long and irregular hours, and must be willing to relocate. Competition is intense for the relatively few positions. Candidates must successfully complete all phases of the recruitment process and begin their first duty assignment prior to their 37th birthday.

You may be eligible to become a Postal Inspector if you:

  • Are an American citizen between the ages of 21 and 36½. * and are interested in an exciting and rewarding career in federal law enforcement. (Male citizens born after December 31, 1959, must have registered with the Selective Service before applying to become a Postal Inspector.)
  • Possess a conferred, four-year degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Are in good physical condition
  • Write and speak English
  • Are willing to relocate

Special Knowledge

There are four special knowledge tracks that make applicants more competitive for the position of Postal Inspector: language skills, postal experience, specialized non-postal skills, and academic achievement. Candidates without special knowledge will be only minimally qualified.

Determine your eligibility

There are several ways to qualify for Postal Inspector positions. Applicants must meet the general eligibility requirements or qualify under specific academic achievement criteria with or without work experience.

  • Academic Achievement with work experience. Candidates with at least one year of full-time work experience with the same company, within two years of the date of their application, are eligible under this skill track.
  • Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S. in any field) must have two years of full-time work experience.
  • Candidates with an Advanced degree (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) must have one year of full-time work experience.
  • Academic Achievement without work experience. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (a B.A. or B.S. in any field) and a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent, or an advanced degree (J.D., M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) are eligible under this skill track.

Inspector Training

Basic Inspector Training is mandatory and provided at their Career Development Unit (CDU). All new hires must complete course work in four areas:

  • Academics
  • Firearms
  • Physical fitness and defensive tactics
  • Practical exercises

Candidates must successfully complete all program areas and achieve specific minimum academic and performance levels to graduate. Graduation from basic training is a condition of employment. Failure to meet the minimum academic and performance levels will result in the termination of the appointment.

How to Apply

The Postal Inspection Service advertises vacancies during open hiring periods announced on the U.S Postal Inspection website. You can only apply during an open period and at that time you may complete an application online.  Check their site frequently to find job announcements. If you miss an open period you will have to wait until new job announcements are posted to submit an application.

If positions aren’t currently available for postal inspectors explore related law enforcement occupations. The federal government employs 192,929 in the Inspection, Investigation, Enforcement and Compliance GS-1800 Group including 3,800 employed overseas.  Review all of your options in law enforcement to improve your chances of landing a high paying, secure, and rewarding law enforcement career.

Review our list of law enforcement hiring agencies that includes the total number employed in each job series and the number employed by each of the hiring agencies. Click on the job title for comprehensive job descriptions that include current federal job vacancies for each occupation.

Forensic Laboratory Services

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service also maintains a National Forensic Laboratory in Dulles, VA. The facility employs technical specialists and forensic scientists that support the postal inspectors in the identification, apprehension, prosecution, and conviction of criminals that commit postal-related offenses. The lab provides scientific and technical expertise to the criminal and security investigations of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Laboratory services are divided into the four units listed below:

  • Questioned Document
  • Fingerprint
  • Physical Sciences
  • Digital Evidence

Employment opportunities exist at the forensic laboratory services facility in a number of related occupations.  Positions such as forensic chemists, information technologist,  physical evidence analysts, fingerprint identification and others are needed to provide these essential services.

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 nor author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Interviews, Job Vacancies, Post Office Jobs, Resumes / KSAs

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Posted on Wednesday, 9th May 2018 by

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Pay plans help to organize and identify information about employee’s pay and the authorizations surrounding the dissemination according to position. They help determine positions, agency relation, or occupational groupings; statistical data is then reported and provided to a myriad of entities such as the OPM, as well as payroll and HR systems in a variety of agencies.

Within the Federal Government, there are a myriad of pay systems that are governed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM is the mastermind behind the development, implementation and management of how pay is administered; they set the pay, determine locality along with any special salary requirements and rates, determine bonuses, cost of living and more. Each of the agencies, however, are able to determine their own administration of such policies when it comes to their employees.

Within the Department of Transportation (DOT) for example, they have five levels of pay: Executive, Senior Service, General Schedule, Wage Grade and Pay Banding. Most employees fall under the General Schedule and within that, there are 15 grade levels and steps within each that are aligned with pay compensation.

Within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for example, Pay Banding is utilized to determine the appropriate range of pay for a particular position; locality is not included in the calculation. With a minimum, midpoint and maximum, pay is offered at the lowest base pay rate, median and highest pay rate for that position within the band. Additional information about the FAA’s specific pay banding system can be found here: http://jobs.faa.gov/FAACoreCompensation.htm.

The National Security Agency (NSA) utilizes the OPM pay tables with a 15 grade system and it is based on education, experience and job titles. With the ability for employees to work across the U.S. and beyond, salaries at the NSA are adjusted accordingly to ensure specific cost of living is in accordance with location.

Additionally, some federal employees may receive a specialty pay. Entitled “Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP)”, this example includes Federal Law Enforcement Officers that are poised in criminal investigation work roles. IT management, Cybersecurity and Computer Professionals may also fall under specialty umbrellas. These incentives are put in place by OPM to foster competition and to attract those in demanding skill sets.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently implemented measures to recruit, hire and pay its employees off of the traditional General Schedule. With a flexible benefits package, incentives are provided at various stages within the employee’s professional career. In order to recruit top talent effectively, specifically in the areas of Border Patrol and Cyber, DHS has sought and utilized new and improved pay, recruitment and hiring tactics.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) offers the Administratively Determined (AD) Pay Plan that enables Assistant United States Attorneys, Supervisory Assistant United States Attorneys, Senior Litigation Counsel, Special Assistant United States Attorneys and United States Attorneys to take part in this pay for performance based plan.

There are many pay systems that are centered around the traditional General Schedule Pay System. When applying for federal positions the pay system designation is provided on the job announcement along with the position’s pay range. Read the job announcement thoroughly and provide all of the required information to ensure your application is accepted for consideration. There are certain conditions that warrant the applicant to request a higher pay rate than initially offered. You must negotiate a pay increase before signing an acceptance agreement.

References:

Career Planning Tools

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

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Posted on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 by

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SUBJECT: WORK RESPONSIBLY

It’s that time of year when college seniors are looking forward to receiving their diplomas after four or more years of time consuming and costly schooling. Parents, college professors and the media have told them that a college degree is the way to a job that will bring satisfaction, fulfillment and a fat paycheck. Get the diploma, send out a few “dynamite” resumes, and a job will follow. Believe that and you might as well look under your pillow for a check to pay off your student loan, compliments of the tooth fairy. Job hunting in the adult world of work is more than sending resumes to job boards. It is a multi-step process, one step of which is writing a resume.

To understand this thing called “work” I believe one needs to take a step back and ask what life itself is all about. Short circuit the philosophy and PC talk and it comes down to this. You are born. You die. And, in between you work in order to survive. Job satisfaction, fulfillment and life/work balance are secondary. We work. We get a paycheck. We buy the big three …food, shelter, clothing…in order to make it to the next day. We spend “left-over money” on technology gadgets, killer apps, insurance, transportation and recreation.  Our money-for-work model has served humankind well for several thousand years…or at least better than the previous model which had people spearing antelope and rabbits for food and clothing, and living in caves to avoid freezing to death.  So how does a newly minted college grad find work, socially meaningful work, that will pay money in order to survive and also bring some sort of job satisfaction and fulfillment?  Let’s explore some of the challenges, and solutions, that new college grads will encounter making their first giant step into the world of work.

WORK CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS

  1. The “What’s Next” Challenge. Many college grads have no idea what they will do after receiving their diplomas. There are three choices: proceed to graduate school; join the military, or find a job with a company. Most will elect option three, finding a job in the corporate or government world, which is divided into various industries, companies within those industries and jobs in those companies.  For example, there is the Food industry with Kroger being a company within; in fact Kroger is the largest company in the Food Industry. It sells guns and ammo, too, in a subsidiary division. There are thousands of jobs at Kroger one of which is a corporate level sales representative. A new college grad could pursue that sales job and make good money. The same applies for sales jobs with beer producer, Miller Brewing Company. There will always be plenty of sales jobs with Miller. Also, there are sales jobs with Walmart in its gun and ammo department. And remember companies in the fast growing recreational marijuana business, one of which is The Farm located in Boulder Colorado.

However, will any job in any industry do it?  There are plenty of job with guns, pot and alcohol companies but is that the way you want to spend your working days?

The Solution. Alternatively, how about industries producing products that have social value, like educational publishing companies such as McGraw-Hill, or food distributors like Whole Foods, or home builders like Ryan Homes, or technology companies like Salesforce.com which has been ranked recently as one of the best places to work? With choices like this, why work in toss away industries like firearms, alcohol or pot? A better choice is working for a socially conscious company like Salesforce.com, the cloud computing company serving a useful function in business and education.

  1. The What Do I Want to Do” Challenge.” So many budding college grads ask what they can do to bring in a paycheck and some sort of job satisfaction. You do not need six weeks with a counselor to figure it out.

The Solution. Record three things for which you have an aptitude. Beside them record three things you like to do. Then match them with industries, and jobs in those industries, that meet your aptitude and interests. For a listing of hundreds of industries and thousands of jobs in them, consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s available in print or eBook from Amazon or other resellers.

  1. The “Right Company” Challenge. Knowing what kind of job you would like is one thing. Finding the right employer is quite another.

The Solution. Assuming you have found a job that you would like, the next step is to find companies that offer such jobs in socially conscious industries. Go online and google companies in those industries. For example, enter “Food Producers” and you will come up with many hits, all potential employers. Begin exploring job opportunities on their digital career pages.

Another fool proof way to find a job is to attend job fairs and trade shows that take place each day at major convention centers throughout the country. Some of them are: the Mascone Center in San Francisco; McCormick Place in Chicago; The Washington DC Convention Center in Washington; the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philly; and the Javits Center in New York City. Each large and medium size city has a convention center. Google the one closest to you to find a listing of trade shows and job fairs and attend those you find interesting. Visit the exhibit booths armed with your resume and ask to see the hiring manager for your area of interest, sales, marketing, finance, technology, human resources, etc. Develop a personal relationship with that person and a job interview will follow.

Government jobs are often overlooked. Jobs in the “government industry” are comparable to jobs in the private sector.  They pay well and are socially conscious jobs. Federal government jobs are located in all fifty states, not just Washington DC. For a listing of interesting jobs and how to apply for them go to the leading government job website: www.federaljobs.net.

  1. The “Writing a Resume” Challenge. In most colleges where students pay upwards of $25,000 for tuition per year, training for job hunting consists of a few weeks instruction about writing a “dynamite” resume. The instruction is primarily academic as most professors have never had a job outside of academia. And, there is more to job hunting than writing and submitting a resume.

The Solution. Craft a resume that highlights your education, your part time jobs and internships throughout your college years. Include a major heading, “Technology Skills” and bullet point your areas of expertise. Also include a major heading titled, “Community Outreach” and bullet point your community initiatives dating back to high school.

       Make sure that grammar and spelling are correct. One mistake will disqualify you. No second chances. Do not trust your spelling and grammar checker.  Proofread your resume aloud and have a trusted friend do the same. This advice might sound rudimentary for a college grad but trust me when I tell you that I have witnessed Vice President candidates disqualified because of one spelling error. AND, do not refer to your resume as a curriculum vitae (CV). That is academic talk. Outside of academia it is called a resume.

  1. The “Interview” Challenge. Interviewing is one of the most intimidating challenges in the job hunting process.

The Solution.  Prepare for the interview with a friend by playing question-answer. Practice until you can answer all questions using business vocabulary. Avoid words like “awesome” and “cool.” When a hiring manage asks” Why do want to work for us?” respond, “Because your company produces products and provides services that are socially worthwhile and because your company is profitable.”

Remember to dress appropriately because first impressions are lasting impressions. Do not dress ultra-casually as you see workers dressed in TV advertisements for Google or Microsoft. Dress on the job is one thing; dress for an interview is entirely different. Wear upscale business attire which you will find on websites for national clothing stores.

HOW TO FIND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYERS

Google “Socially Responsible Employers.” I did just that and found numerous leads to companies of this kind. One site listed the five most socially responsible employers as: Microsoft (technology), Merck (Pharmaceuticals), The World Bank Group (finance and economic development), The Acumen Fund (global impact investing), and Yingli Green Energy (a solar energy producer).

For additional help finding socially conscious employers, explore companies held in the portfolio of mutual funds listed as “socially aware.” One such is the Vanguard Social Index Fund, whose symbol is VFTSX. Companies held in this fund by Vanguard are screened using social, human rights and environmental criteria. Some of these companies are: Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, United Healthcare, Facebook, Apple and J.P Morgan Chase.

Using social media for job hunting has its limitations. Use these media for networking and information but do not believe they alone will lead you to the promised land of employment. The one exception is LinkedIn, a site designed exclusively for job hunting. Jobs offers will come only after you develop a personal relationship with the hiring manager or human resources director.   You will find them at trade shows and conferences at convention centers, and by making cold calls, that is, knocking on the doors of employers and asking to see the human resources director.

WORKING WITH THE STARS

Frequently, new college grads have no role model to follow while embarking on a career straight out of college. However, they are out there. In fact, we’re surrounded by them. Let’s break them down into specific categories and take a look.  You may not recognize some of the names; others are well known throughout the world of work

Public Sector Workers. These are workers who chose careers in government. They serve in both elected and appointed positions.

  1. Joni Ernst,S. Senator for Iowa who served in the Military for 20 years before becoming the first female Senator from Iowa. Concurrently she serves as head of the Iowa National Guard.
  2. Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations and former Governor of South Carolina. She is a Business major from Clemson University. She served as Treasurer of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
  3. Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative from Hawaii and Army veteran who went on several deployments to the Mideast.
  4. Patricia, “Pat” Schroeder, a lawyer and former U.S. Representative from Colorado who authored the Family Leave Program. She was the first woman to run for President of the United States. Many of the work benefits we enjoy resulted from her personal work in Congress.
  5. Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. She now serves on the faculty of Stanford University. She is a talented classical pianist and one of the world’s foremost Russian History experts.
  6. The 2,500,000 (read, two million, five hundred thousand) female K-12 school teachers. Guiding the academic, social and moral development of K-12 students is one the most powerful jobs in America. Teachers make a reasonable wage and their careers bring job satisfaction every day.

 Private Sector Workers. These are workers in companies both large and small.

  1. Becky Quick, anchor for Squawk Box, the popular CNBC TV morning finance program. Follow her each morning at 8 AM. Learn about the world of finance from Becky.
  2. Erin Burnett, host of OutFront, a popular CNN evening program. Follow Erin each night at 7 PM. Erin broke into TV as a financial analyst on a CNN evening program.
  3. Marillyn Hewson, CEO and President of defense contractor, Lockheed Martin. Over the past five years Marillyn has created thousands of new jobs, brought wealth to shareholders, and incredible technology innovation to a company dedicated to preserving our national security.
  4. Irene Rosenfeld, Chairwoman and CEO of the second largest publically traded food producer, Kraft Foods.
  5. Angela Braly, Chairwoman, CEO and President of WellPoint, a leader in the healthcare industry. The company is commonly known as Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance. She is the mother of three children and works hard to balance work and family.
  6. Kate Richard, Founder and CEO, Warwick Energy Group, an oil and gas producer located in Oklahoma City.

MOVING FORWARD

All of our STARS began their path to success in entry level jobs after graduating from college.   By applying their intelligence, energy and passion, they rose through the ranks to attain leadership positions in the socially responsible world of work. If they did it…so can you!

For more information about how to find your way after graduation, read my book titled, WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD. A Complete Guide to Job Hunting for the Recent College Grad. It is available in paperback and eBook from Skyhorse Publishing, Amazon and B&N.

Send comments to Weiss4Jobs@aol.com

John Henry Weiss

c2018

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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.

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Posted in Applying For Jobs, Federal Career Exploration, Federal Employees, Federal Jobs, Job Interviews, Job Qualifications, Job Vacancies, Resumes / KSAs, Student jobs

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