Many federal job seekers concerned over how long the federal application process takes wonder if there's anything they can do to speed things up or if there are agencies or departments that hire faster than others.
Yes, applying for federal jobs by going through the many steps required does take time, but given the scale of how things work, it's not surprising: The government has thousands of jobs open, and human resources specialists receive hundreds of applications and multiple components every day.
Federal Job Application Tips
You might get a faster response if you apply to a smaller agency, but if you're applying to one with hundreds of thousands of employees and hundreds of job openings -- in short, a place with the most potential opportunities for you -- then you need to think long-term. Here's how to apply for federal jobs, accepting the fact that it could be a six-to-12-month process before you're hired:
- Find job announcements that are right for you, and match your resume to the skills the announcements require.
- Apply for one to three positions per week.
- Submit your resume to any of the online databases: USAJOBS, Avue Central, CPOL, Department of the Navy, Civilian Human Resources and any agency-specific databases that interest you.
- Apply to jobs with close deadlines as well as those with far-away deadlines. The latter are database resume-collecting announcements.
- Keep track of your applications.
You might need to apply for 20 to 30 jobs before you can expect to hear back about being referred or selected for an interview. This might sound like a lot, but once you're in the system and the HR specialists know you, the response time will likely go down. After you have your first referral letter, expect another to come sooner, and after you have your first interview, expect another. Once you get enough momentum, you will be getting emails from HR specialists weekly. You will have interviews, questions and decisions to make. Create a rolling application process, and it will work for you.
If you don't get referred after 20 to 30 days, call or write to any of the HR specialists listed on the announcements. You shouldn't keep applying without being referred. If you get referred but not selected for an interview, you should also call an HR specialist to find out why.
Learn more about government careers.