By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs
Do you want an employer with an established reputation? Are good benefits and an even better retirement plan important to you? Do you want to make a difference? Consider a career with Uncle Sam.
The federal government is on a hiring spree and will be for the foreseeable future. "There's a huge need to get high-quality, top talent working for the federal government," says Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service.
There are thousands of different jobs at more than 100 different agencies. "There are 193,000 mission-critical jobs that need to be filled in the next two years, but that isn't the full spectrum of jobs available," McManus says. And because the majority of government jobs are located all across the US, it's likely that there are opportunities in a city or town near you.
A lot of job seekers overlook the federal government as a viable employer. Some think it's too complicated to find a government job for which they're qualified -- when, in fact, looking for a government job requires just a bit of extra effort.
Find Your Calling
McManus says, "One of the biggest obstacles for most people is that they simply don't understand the scope of jobs that are available with the US government. The unique thing about the federal government is that the skills needs are so diverse."
So whether you're an accountant or a new graduate with a history degree, there's likely an opportunity for you. Remember as you begin researching openings that the US government uses a set list of job titles that may not always mirror those in the private sector. Research job titles and descriptions at USAJobs to determine the positions for which you're best-suited.
Tailor Your Resume
You may need to tweak your resume a bit when applying for a government position. Uncle Sam needs lots of details -- your Social Security number, the job code for which you're applying, dates and addresses for each of your employers and educational institutions, and more. Oftentimes, a federal agency may have a resume-building program you can use to apply. If not, make sure your resume is rich with details so your credentials can be easily confirmed.
Federal job listings follow stringent requirements in terms of where they're listed, how to apply, who is eligible and by what date applications must be received. You must adhere to the listing's instructions. If you don't, you will not be considered for the position, no matter how qualified you may be.
"Navigating the system is the next step," says McManus. "There may be some additional things that are required for federal employment [as compared with private-sector job searches]," he points out.
If you've applied to a government agency through the agency's online portal, you may well be able to check the status of your application online. If this isn't the case, wait a month or so after the closing date and make certain your materials have been received and that your application is complete.
As with any job search, waiting is involved when pursuing work with a federal agency. Depending on the resources available, it may take weeks or even months for human resources workers to review all the applications and narrow a smaller pool of people to interview.
"You have to stay with it," McManus advises federal job applicants. "If you look at the end result, the time and effort is worth it -- especially for people who want to make a difference. Working for the federal government is how they can make the biggest difference."
Learn more about government careers.