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Different Types of Job Appointments - Part One

When applying for a Federal job, it is important to know the difference between the various job appointments that the government offers. A Federal job appointment determines Federal benefits and eligibility for transfer and reinstatement to other Federal jobs. In Part One of this article, we'll summarize what career and career-conditional appointments are and what you may encounter during your first three years of employment.

Career and Career-Conditional Appointments

A person hired by the Federal government and employed in the competitive service for other than temporary, term, or indefinite employment is appointed as a career or career-conditional employee. These appointments are obtained through the competitive examining process and they convey "status" within the Federal government. The most popular ways for an individual to become employed within the career and career-conditional employment system is through job registers, reinstatement, transfers and under special hiring authority. One of the most significant benefits of being a career or career-conditional employee is that you acquire competitive status.

Competitive Status

Competitive status is an employee's basic eligibility for a job assignment via transfer, promotion, reassignment, demotion or reinstatement to another position in the Competitive Service without open competitive examination. What does this really mean? If a vacancy announcement is restricted to current or former Federal employees (not open to the general public), and an employee has served at least 90 days in their competitive appointment, they may apply for that job. Note: Once you have acquired status, it belongs to you and not to a position.

Probationary & Career-Conditional Periods

It is important that you understand the difference between the 1-year probationary period and the 3-year career-conditional period that 's required to obtain career tenure. The 1-year probationary period determines the ability and conduct required for government service, the 3-year career-conditional period measures the employee's interest, and the Government's ability to provide a Federal career. Once career tenure has been earned, it's yours for life.

Competitive Examining Process

An applicant who is applying under a competitive assignment is typically an individual who "has not" acquired competitive status. This means that you will be competing for a Federal job from all eligible sources. These sources are individuals who have never worked for the Federal government as well as current or former Federal employees. During the application process, you must meet basic qualifications and be rated on a scale of 70 to 100 in order to qualify for the job. The individual(s) with the highest ratings will be considered for the position.

Noncompetitive Assignment

An applicant who is applying under a noncompetitive appointment is typically an individual who "has" acquired competitive status and your competition for the job will be from sources within the Federal government (current or former employees) or individuals under special hiring authority.

1-Year Probationary Period

Most permanent hires under the Competitive Service are brought into the Federal system under a career or career-conditional appointment. A career or career-conditional employee is required by law to serve a 1-year probationary period. This period is really the most important factor that an agency will use to determine whether it wants to invest additional time in an employee in order for them to receive career tenure. This probationary period is used to monitor the employee's job performance and personal conduct on the job. If an individual is transferred, promoted, demoted or reassigned before they complete their probationary period, they will be required to complete the probationary period in their new job.

Note: If you previously worked for the same agency in the same line of work without a break in service, then your prior Federal service will count towards your current probationary period.

3-Year Career Tenure Period

Career Tenure is automatically obtained once you complete 3-years of substantially continuous creditable service as a career-conditional appointment, career appointment, reinstatement eligible or transfer eligible. It must include service under an appointment based on or leading to competitive status and the 3-year period must begin and end as a permanent, non-temporary employee in the Competitive Service. If there is a break in service of more than 30 calendar days, the employee may be required to serve a new 3-year period. Periods of time in a non-pay status are not breaks in service and will not require an employee to begin a new 3-year period, but the service time might be extended to obtain career tenure.  

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