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What Your Colleagues Are Saying

Scroll down this page to see what your colleagues are saying about federal employment matters.

From our vantage point overlooking Washington, D.C., we hear a lot from our subscribers about federal employment issues, such as things that are infuriating to them, bothering them or just confusing them. We also get a lot of questions that we try very hard to answer. If you have something on your mind - an opinion or a question - that you want to air, we'd like to hear from you.  Click here to contact us or send us an email to info@fedjobs.com

Meanwhile, here is what some of your colleagues are saying:

  1. I'm a current federal worker wanting to switch agencies so what does "status", "competitive", etc. mean. You replied that I must  already be a federal employee under a career or  career-conditional appointment? So what does career or  career-conditional mean? I work for an agency where my  job is considered excepted service. If this is different  than the agencies run by OPM, does that mean I'm eligible  to apply for jobs that specify status, competitive, etc?  Is there any resource out there that tells people what  all this means? This should be explained when people get  hired - it seems absurd to me that I should be in a  position where I don't know what kind of job I have or  what kind I'm eligible to apply for - no wonder the government has difficulty attracting people!


    FRS Responds:

    Unfortunately, Excepted Service positions don't automatically give you competitive status, no matter how long you've been in the federal government. The exception to the rule is this:  if your agency has an interchange agreement with OPM, you can apply for jobs that are restricted to federal employees with "status" as long as you haven't had a break in pay from the agency with the interchange agreement.

    Agencies are given an interchange agreement only if they follow the same "merit system principles" as OPM. Meaning, they rate your application using the same basic qualification structure as OPM. This lets OPM know that you've already been rated, and are qualified for a specific occupation/series, at a specific grade level.

    Here's the definition of Career, Career-conditional and Status:

    Career Appointment: Permanent appointment in the competitive service conveyed automatically after successfully completing the required term of service in a career-conditional appointment. This is typically a three year period.

    Career-Conditional Appointment: Permanent appointment in the competitive service of a person who has not yet completed the required period of creditable, substantially continuous federal service.

    Status, Competitive: Referring to current federal competitive service employees or former employees with competitive service reinstatement eligibility

    Click here to learn more about the Excepted Service.

  2. I am inquiring about the 5 point veterans preference.  I was involved in the conflict in Kosovo and have a "Kosovo Campaign Medal" which isn't listed on the web page.  Would I be qualified for the preference?

    R. Grossman

    FRS Responds:

    If you have been awarded a campaign medal from Kosovo, then you should be entitled to 5-point veterans preference.  Read on for more information about 5-point veterans preference:

    When the government is examining outside applicants (non-status candidates), preference is given to qualified veterans who are disabled or who served during certain time periods or in military campaigns. This preference takes the form of having points added to the veterans examination or evaluation score.

    Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for this preference unless they are disabled

    To receive a 5-point preference, you must have:

    • Served during any war
    • Or, served during 4/28/52-7/1/55
    • Or, for more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred between 1/31/55 and 10/15/76;
    • Or, during the Gulf War from 8/2/90-1/2/92;
    • Or, in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia & Southeast Asia.
    Medal holders and Gulf War veterans, who enlisted after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 14, 1982, must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called to active duty.

    Click here for more programs available for veterans.


  3. How does one get a federal job? Do you take a test first (where) or fill out an application for a specific job?

    M. Bailey, Riverside County CA.

    FRS Responds:

    The first step in obtaining federal employment is to find a job opening that you are qualified for.  Once you find a job, you MUST obtain the jobs vacancy announcement.  This document contains all the necessary information you will need in order to determine whether you are qualified for the position based on your education & experience, what the duties of the position are, if testing is required and the information on how to apply for the position.

    A "Civil Service" test is no longer required prior to starting your federal job search.  However, there are some positions that will require testing and in most cases the test dates and locations will be included in the vacancy announcement or you'll be directed to contact the hiring office for additional information.

    Federal Research Service publishes the website, FedJobs Career Central which on any given day lists over 17,000 current federal job openings. 

    We also publish several books on the employment process, from writing the required KSAs (Knowledges, Skills & Abilities) to Interviewing for Job Openings to answering questions concerning federal personnel issues. More information on our publications can be found at http://www.fedjobs.com/howto/


  4. What is "Form C" and how do I get a copy of it?
  5. FRS Responds:

    There are two versions of the Form C (Qualification and Availability Form). One (the AW version) is a "scan-tron" form requiring use of a #2 pencil and a particular paper! This Office of Personnel Management form must be obtained by calling 478-757-3188 and requesting it be mailed to you. The other version (1203FX) may be printed and is available in the Member's Library for FedJobs subscribers.

  6. I am trying to find out whether or not there are federal regulations on hiring. Is this information available on-line? Can I find out before I apply what jobs I actually qualify for?

    FRS Responds:

    Regulations are available on CD-ROM and can be purchased through the Government Printing Office: 202-512-1800. Or, if you are near a large regional library, or a federal building that has a federal library, you can ask to see the "Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions", formally known as the X-118.

    FRS also publishes an annual publication entitled "Federal Employment from A to Z" which answers many questions concerning federal hiring regulations.

  7. I am interested in any federal employment information that you could provide me on the Academic Achiever's program.

    FRS Responds:

    We're not familiar with a program called "Academic Achievers." You may be talking about the Outstanding Scholar Program (OSP).

    If you mean OSP: College graduates with a GPA of 3.45 or higher, or in the upper 10% of their class, may apply for federal jobs at a GS-5 or GS-7 level. There is no register or special application; you simply need to locate an available job in your field that is open at GS-5/7 and submit your application (along with any additional attachments listed on the vacancy announcement).

    Always include a copy of your transcript, and we suggest a cover letter stating that you are applying as an Outstanding Scholar. It is always best to request a copy of the announcement and follow the application instructions.

  8. I work in a human resources office and wanted to know how to get our job vacancies published in Federal Career Opportunities and FedJobs...Career Central?
  9. FRS Responds:

    We would love to receive your job vacancies. There are several options available to get your vacancies to us:

    You can call us at 703-281-0200 and we can take the information over the phone
    You can e-mail them to us at jobs@fedjobs.com
    You can fax them to us at 703-281-7639 or
    You can mail them to FRS, PO Box 1708, Annandale VA 22003

  10. When is the best time to start looking for summer job openings?
  11. FRS Responds:

    The best time to look for summer job openings is January through June, however, some positions are advertised year round. Federal Career Opportunities  has a summer jobs section which is updated every two weeks.

  12. Please advise on how to retrieve a vacancy announcement via the internet when I know the specific vacancy announcement number.
  13. FRS Responds:

    Not all vacancy announcements are available on the Internet. However, subscribers to our service (FedJobs...Career Central) have access to more than 98% of the full text vacancies. Those who subscribe to our printed publication (Federal Career Opportunities) are able to retrieve the full text of vacancies they are interested in from our web site at no additional charge. And, of course anyone who has a FedJobs Membership has access to the vacancies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from.

    If we don't have the full text available, and you know the name of the agency which issued the vacancy announcement, you can see if the agency has a site which includes the announcement you are looking for. Try one of the Internet search engines (such as http://www.yahoo.com).

  14. Where can I find information on the Foreign Service and how can I apply?
  15. FRS Responds:

    Contact the U.S. Department of State at (703) 875-4910 to receive information on the Foreign Service Exam. Or, write to: U.S. Dept of State, Recruitment Division, Box 9317, Arlington, VA 22219-0317. You may also choose "Careers" from their WEB site at www.state.gov.

  16. Am I considered a previous federal employee if I was active duty military, honorably discharged?
  17. FRS Responds:

    I'm afraid not. You must hold a competitive service position for three years to acquire career status.

  18. I think you provide a great service, but believe it is a little overpriced. Are there any discounts for us 'soon to be retired' military guys?
  19. FRS Responds:

    Thanks for the compliment on our service. Our people work hard every day to stay on top of the federal hiring scene and, at the same time, we try to keep the costs down. We're not subsidized by taxpayers and must cover our costs--hence no discounts beyond our specials that we announce each week under Special Deals . Some people think our service is cheap compared to the costs they experience looking on their own. And the subscribers who get jobs and up their salaries by thousands think our service is a fantastic deal!

  20. Do federal jobs really have good benefits?
  21. FRS Responds:

    Quoting from a resource book (Find a Federal Job Fast!) that can be purchased from FRS, "Government benefits are good to excellent, including healthcare and a generous pension plan. Federal workers with 30 years of service can retire at age 55 ... 20 years, at 60 ... even just 5 years of experience can retire at age 62 and receive benefits."

    You might also note that earned annual leave is 13-26 days each year, depending on length of service; also 13 days of sick leave are earned by full-time employees.

    FRS publishes a 208-page annual publication entitled "Federal Employment from A to Z" which has an extensive section on benefits for federal employees.

  22. Does your federal jobs database include congressional staff jobs on Capitol Hill?
  23. FRS Responds:

    Yes! Unlike any other service, the FedJobs...Career Central database contains civil service and excepted service positions, as well as judicial and congressional openings and select non-federal opportunities.

  24. I'm a federal employee with extensive internet access. However, your service is the most up-to-date service I have seen. The jobs that you have listed are sometimes not listed on OPM's web site. Keep up the good work!
  25. FRS Responds:

    Thank you... thank you... it gets easier to keep up the good work when nice folks like you pat us on the back!

  26. I just stumbled onto your homepage. I'd like to learn more about how it works. Can I do my own search? Specifically, I'm looking for a position in the Buffalo, NY area in Public Affairs...GS-1035 or equivalent.
  27. FRS Responds:

    You can search our Federal Career Opportunities database by subscribing to FedJobs...Career Central. You specify the kind of job you want. To look for the position you described you would enter "1035" and "NY". Our jobs database is updated daily.

  28. Once I find a vacancy listing in your database that I'm interested in applying for, what do I do next?
  29. FRS Responds:

    Each listing provides you with an application mailing address and, in most cases, a name and phone number at the hiring agency. We strongly recommend that you take a look at the full text vacancy announcement. (If it's not available through our web site, you'll have to call the hiring agency and ask that it be mailed to you. Once you have it, tailor your application (either the OF-612, a federal-style resume or the SF-171) to meet the criteria set forth in the announcement. For expert assistance in developing your application, you'll want to use our 'KSA' publications (see How-To Resources).

  30. How confident are you that your service "finds" all of the available vacancies that are advertised at any given time? How do you ensure complete coverage? Do federal Human Resources Offices contact you, or do you contact them?
  31. FRS Responds:

    Federal Research Service has been providing comprehensive federal vacancy coverage for 29 years and has built a reputation for reliable, accurate and timely service. We update our federal jobs database every day with new openings and remove the closed ones.

    We do not release our database to re-sellers; it is exclusive to our operation. We do not sit around passively waiting for agencies to tell us about their openings. Our staff contacts more than 1800 federal hiring offices each and every week to ferret out their current and anticipated openings.

    This is our business. It is not a sideline or a government bulletin board. We earn our income by providing the most comprehensive federal job information available anywhere!

  32. I'm looking for a job overseas. Can you help?
  33. FRS Responds:

    Our federal jobs database contains hundreds of overseas positions. By subscribing to either the printed report, Federal Career Opportunities or FedJobs...Career Central, you'll have the opportunity to respond to these numerous vacancies.

  34. Do you generally need to be a US citizen to become a federal employee?
  35. FRS Responds:

    Nearly all federal jobs require US citizenship. On rare occasions, for example, a job that may require special linguistic skills may be filled on a temporary basis by non-citizens.

  36. I am curious about how your grade is determined. I am an engineer with a few years experience. When I see a job announcement, I wonder if I qualify for say a GS-12 or higher. Do you have any advice?
  37. FRS Responds:

    Good question! There is a manual, cleverly titled OPERATING MANUAL FOR QUALIFICATION STANDARDS FOR GENERAL SCHEDULE POSITIONS (formerly known as the X-118) which specifies skills, education and experience at each GS level for each occupation. You should be able to locate a copy of the manual at a main library or a federal personnel office in your area. It's also available on our home page under "What Jobs Do I Qualify For?"

  38. In the past six months, I've applied for five government jobs and have never heard a word. In fact, I don't know if my applications even got there. Don't federal agencies ever say thanks but you didn't get the job?
  39. FRS Responds:

    Federal human resources officials are probably just as polite as the next guy, but the typical job opening draws so many applications that they couldn't possibly respond to all of them. So unless you've been interviewed for a job, you probably won't be notified when someone else is selected.

    If you'd just like to confirm that your application has been received, there is something you can try.

    Clip or staple a stamped, self-addressed postcard to the front of your application. On the blank side, note the agency, position, and vacancy announcement number of the job you're applying for. Then include a polite statement asking the person who received your application to initial or sign and date the card and mail it back to you as acknowledgement that your application was received. You might also leave a small area labeled COMMENTS in case the personnel official wants to jot down any additional information.

  40. I wonder what happens to an application when the person who is applying for the position does not include his/her age. Asking for an applicant's age on an application form is a violation of the person's privacy. I am curious as to why this question is included on application forms.
  41. FRS Responds:

    While the SF-171 asked applicants to provide a date of birth, the requirement has been dropped from the OF-612. This eliminates the possibility that a review panel or hiring official could have a conscious or unconscious prejudice against older applicants. However, job hunters will have to provide age information when completing the OF-306, Declaration for Federal Employment.

    This form is usually not required until the applicant has been selected for the job.

  42. About two months ago I took a test for all federal jobs through the Office of Personnel Management in Houston. I received good scores on the test, but have not heard anything about any federal jobs. What can I do to make it known that I am still interested in Federal government employment? Do you know who I should contact?
  43. FRS Responds:

    The days when a federal job hunter could take a test or fill out an application and then wait for an agency to contact him or her about an opening are long gone. We don't know what kind of test you took at the OPM office, but it's not likely that this is going to lead to a job offer. You are probably going to have to locate the job vacancy yourself and make direct application to the hiring agency. There are several ways to learn about government job openings, but one of the most effective is through use of our federal jobs database.

  44. I am currently a federal employee who works at an Army installation that is undergoing a BRAC exercise. I am a GS-230-12. I have a great deal of graduate education (Masters in Psychology and working on a PhD). How can your service be of optimal use to me, if at all?
  45. FRS Responds:

    If you believe your job is in jeopardy, now is the time to apply for other job opportunities! And you may want to broaden your job search beyond the Employee Relations field to capitalize on your graduate education program. If you are uncertain about how to explore and qualify for other GS series within federal service, you will be interested in our booklet entitled How to Change Careers Within Government .

  46. I am concerned about just how secure federal jobs are in times of outsourcing.
  47. FRS Responds:

    When you talk about job security, you're expressing concern about a nationwide situation that reaches far beyond the federal government. Current Labor Department studies show that each American worker will change employers at least seven times during a career. Gone are the days of making a 20+ year career with one employer.

    Outsourcing has been on the top of the Bush Administrations list for federal agencies over the past year.  We agree that outsourcing makes people wonder about job security in government. But, employment in another sector isn't the answer. In fact, there is no simple answer for the situation. The bottom line: Today it's important to evaluate each job offer in terms of its probable security -- whether you're looking at government or private industry -- and use your good judgment before you jump from one employer to another.









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