Monday, January 14, 2013

6 tips to fine-tune your search for a fed communications job on USAJOBS

Posted by: Britt Ehrhardt, Jan. 14, 2013

Looking for a promotion so you can move up? Trying to get into communications from another federal job? You’ve probably already looked at USAJOBS. But are you using USAJOBS to its full extent? It has a learning curve, like any other job search tool. Use these tips to get the most out of USAJOBS.

1. Set up automatic email notifications.

These days, a USAJOBS job announcement can be open for as few as 3 to 5 days. OPM’s recent hiring reform has shortened the hiring process, sometimes reducing the number of days an announcement is available for application. A brief window of opportunity does NOT mean that they have someone in mind for the job. Don’t miss jobs that might be a fit for you. The USAJOBS Saved Searches feature will automatically search for jobs based on your criteria, and then email you when there are new jobs entered into the database that meet your specifications. Set up a couple of these automatic searches, so that you don’t have to visit USAJOBS every day.

2. Consider more job series.

Federal communicators have a range of job titles and job series, often a four-digit numeric code that identifies the exact type of job. You might be interested in searching for the following job series:

  • 1001 – General Arts and Information (Communications Specialist, etc)
  • 1035 – Public Affairs
  • 1082 – Writer/Editor
  • 1083 – Technical Writer/Editor
  • 0301 – Miscellaneous Administration
  • 0343 – Management and Program Analysis
Are there other series that you use in searches? Please share them in the Comments, below!

3. Build your resume in USAJOBS.

The USAJOBS Resume Builder feature is optional, but you should use it. This online tool will help you ensure that your resume contains every piece of information that’s required for your application to be considered, and none of the information that will cause your application to be disqualified—like a photo. Some have complained that the USAJOBS resume is very long and not formatted as well as a communications professional might desire. You can bring a different, one-page, beautifully formatted resume to your interview, when you get one. But for the USAJOBS application, use their resume builder.

4. Tailor every resume.

With saved resumes in USAJOBS, you might be tempted to send the same resume in response to every job. Don’t. Review every job announcement, and spend a few minutes editing your resume so that it best highlights your relevant experience. Use the words and phrases from the Duties and Qualifications Required sections of the job announcement in your own resume, if indeed you have that experience. This will help the HR Specialist reviewing your application (and the hiring manager, when you get that far) see at a glance that indeed, you are qualified for the opportunity.

5. Check out the associated questionnaire in advance of applying.

Relatively few agencies still use KSAs, brief written responses describing your relevant Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. Instead, you will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about your experience at the time you apply, in addition to submitting a resume. The answers are generally multiple choice. Look at this questionnaire before submitting your resume. If you can’t score yourself very highly (a score of 4 or 5, on a 5-point scale) on almost every question, maybe this is not the job for you. These questionnaires are not stored in USAJOBS. To look at the questionnaire associated with a job announcement, you must log-in to the questionnaire system. Many agencies use In the Main screen, you can search for the job using the Vacancy Identification Number search field. The Vacancy Identification Number is the 6-digit number at the end of the USAJOBS Job Announcement Number.

6. Send every required document and nothing more.

Generally, USAJOBS applications for federal communications jobs require a resume and completion of an online questionnaire about your experience. Don’t waste time writing a cover letter if the job announcement does not specifically require one. But read the announcement carefully, as different agencies require different documents. You may need to submit a copy of your most recent performance review, a school transcript, or other documents at the time of application.

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