Federal job search
- Some elements of searching for a federal government internship or post-graduation job are the same as doing so in the private sector. Some elements are quite different.
- Resources and information below have been assembled to assist you.
- If events are scheduled related to federal opportunities, those will be listed on the federal events calendar.
For advising on seeking federal jobs and internships, make an advising appointment to "search for federal jobs / internships." You will meet with one of our federal job search advisors, pictured below. We look forward to assisting you.
- Federal occupations by college major [USAJobs.gov]
List of federal occupations that are organized by specific college majors. Each occupation listed also includes a four-digit series code that can be used to search for job opportunities on USAJOBS.
- Handbook of occupational groups and families [OPM.gov: Office of Personnel Management]
Provides a more in-depth glossary of information related to the various types of series codes that correspond to each family and group of occupations found within the federal government.
- Career guides. [GoGovernment.org]
Explore federal opportunities in a wide variety of career fields.
- We ask new graduates who complete an undergraduate degree to report their first job (or continuing education) information. (They have six months after graduation to provide that information). Results are published as the First Destination Report, which includes: List of employers (and job titles and locations) reported by graduates, by undergradute major. You can re-sort that list on any heading, including employer, so you can look for federal agencies reported by new grads.
View all federal agencies and departments:
Sample list of federal agencies:
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agroforestry Center
A partnership of the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
- U.S. Dept. of Commerce
- U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
- U.S. Dept. of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Hires military and civilian personnel; needs for nuclear physicists, policy analysts and treaty experts, mechanical, civil, electrical and computer engineers, chemists, biologists, linguists, accountants, program analysts, contract, personnel, financial and logistics management specialists. Summer employment program, Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), Presidential Management Intern Program (PMI) for master's and doctoral students.
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Land Management
Under "Get Involved" see career info. Professional careers in BLM include:
Archaeologist, communications specialist/electronics technician, botanist, economist, engineer, fire management officer, forester, geologist, hazardous materials specialist, hydrologist, information resources, land surveyor, outdoor recreation planner, planning coordinator, public affairs specialist, ranger, range conservationist, realty specialist, wildlife/fisheries biologist.
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service
- U.S. Dept. of Justice
- U.S. Dept. of Labor
- U.S. Dept. of State
- U.S. Dept. of Treasury
- U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service
Includes students and recent grads info, seasonal and part-time.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Includes careers and internships, with opportunities for college students, graduates, graduate students, post-docs.
- U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation college recruitment program
Entry-level career opportunities with the FBI, includes majors from which they typically hire.
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- The White House Internship Program
- Government hosted job resource for students and new graduates:
- Find your fit in the federal government [on Go Government.org]
- Partnerships with the federal government for job-seekers:
Partnership for Public Service
- Best Places to Work in the Federal Government
- Private federal job sources:
Federal Job Digest
Washington Post Government and Public Service Classifieds
These Pathways programs allow current college students and recent college graduates to participate in federal government job opportunities:
- Replaces STEP/SCEP.
- Paid opportunities while still in school.
- Agencies may convert eligible participants to full time employment.
- More about the internship program on OPM.gov.
Recent Graduate Program
- One-year career development program.
- Participants hired in cohorts aligned with academic calendar.
- Apply within two years of receiving degree (veterans within six years).
- More about the recent graduate program on OPM.gov.
Presidential Management Fellows Program
- Open to advanced degree candidates within two years of graduation.
- No longer requires college rep recommendation.
- More about the PMF program on PMF.gov.
Typically, a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience will start around the GS-5 level, while a graduate with a master’s degree can expect to start around the GS-9 level.
- Pay and the General Schedule (GS) – Basic Information [on Go Government.gov]
Provides a general overview, for beginning federal job searchers, of the pay grade levels utilized in the federal government. Information is also available related to cost of living allowance, special pay rates, and alternative pay schedules.
- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM.gov] Salaries and Wages will give you the following and much more:
- Current General Pay Table
- Locality Pay Area Definitions
- Locality Pay Tables
Yes; some do. Some post jobs. Some recruit through On-Campus Interviewing. Some attend career fairs. Some may do a combination of these recruiting methods.
Handshake and the On-Campus Interviewing Program:
- Handshake is open all year for employers to post jobs for Virginia Tech students.
- The On-Campus Interviewing Program refers to employers [from many locations] scheduling a visit on campus [usually just once per year] to conduct interviews for internships and post-graduation jobs. The employers don't all visit on one day (like a career fair)! Each employer requests an interview date, which could be scheduled during several weeks in both fall and spring semesters. There are advance deadlines for applying for jobs, and advance sign up for interviews by students selected by the employer after applying. If there is a particular federal agency that interests you, you can search for that employer on Handshake.
- More about Handshake and the On-Campus Interviewing Program.
- View list of career fairs sponsored by VT colleges, departments, and alumni association chapters.
- View career fairs sponsored by Career and Professional Development.
- Federal agencies could be among the employers in attendance at almost every fair, so view the website of each specific career fair to see which employers will be attending. Research employers in advance so you can present yourself as a prepared candidate. Saying, "hi, what does your agency do?" won't be an effective approach.
- Tip: Avoid using the generic term "companies" to refer to employers. Government agencies are not companies.
- Take advantage of the in-person opportunity: Employers at fairs may require you to apply online to officially be a job candidate, but having the opportunity to meet a recruiter in person is a chance to learn more and present yourself effectively.
- Bonus: Some fairs include next-day interviews which are scheduled during the fair. [This is separate from the On-Campus Interviewing Program described above. So don't overlook either, take advantage of both!]
Resumes written for federal jobs may require different information and presentation than is expected on a resume for the private sector. Additionally, expectations can vary by agency.
- GoGovernment.org: Applying for a federal job includes: Writing your federal resume.
- USAJOBS.gov: Create a profile and see resume guidance.
It is recommended to use the USAJobs resume builder if you are creating a resume for the first time.
- USAJOBS.gov: Video: Writing your federal resume.
Federal resume examples [pdf format]:
Source for samples 2., 3., and 4., and published with permission:
Student's Federal Career Guide, 3rd Ed.; The Resume Place, Inc., Kathryn Troutman.
- Current undergraduate student seeking internship related to intelligence
- Recent college graduate seeking position as an intelligence analyst with the Department of Homeland Security
- Current undergraduate student seeking internship position with the U.S. Navy
- Current graduate student seeking position as a new media specialist with human resources
Many jobs in the federal government require some sort of security clearance for employees once they are hired. A security clearance is a license issued by the government to authorize an employee to handle classified or top secret information that relates to national security.
You can only get a security clearance by being hired by government, hired by military, or hired by a government contractor. A student cannot initiate this process in advance. However, you can organize information that will be requested, including: all past residential addresses (domestic and abroad); addresses and phone numbers for character witnesses; and addresses and phone numbers for individuals who can confirm each of your past and current residences (no one individual can serve in more than one capacity of residence confirmation or character witness).
To obtain security clearance, an interested applicant must first apply for a federal job that requires clearance. Once hired, the employer will begin the clearance process by submitting paperwork to the Defense Security Service where a background check is initiated on the employee. The background check typically includes citizenship verification, fingerprinting, and a National Security Questionnaire. After these steps, the government then runs credit checks, medical record checks, etc. The government then checks for illegal drug use and investigates family and friend relationships, especially those relationships with foreign citizens. Once all personal information is gathered to the government’s satisfaction, the prospective employee will then be interviewed, and possibly issued a polygraph test. Upon completion, clearance is either granted or denied.
The entire security clearance process can take from a number of months to longer than one year, depending on the level of clearance and other factors. For your security clearance process, it is important to be honest and thorough in providing requested information. Clearances require periodic re-examination after one is employed.
OPM.gov provides FAQs about investigations for security clearance.
If you have a security clearance from prior employment, include that information on your resume.
Veterans’ preference can help eligible veterans elevate their applications for federal jobs. While it does not guarantee a job, it can provide a hiring advantage for qualified veterans. A successful applicant must still demonstrate that they are qualified for the position through their applications.
- FedsHireVets.gov provides extensive information for veterans on federal hiring including veterans' preference.
- The U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans' Employment and Training Services [VETS] offers resources to help determine veterans’ preference eligibility [and more].
In 2010, President Obama issued an Executive Order that directed the federal government to increase their hiring of persons with disabilities for all levels and occupations. As a result, students with disabilities have access to specific programs and hiring authorities that can assist them with securing a job with the federal government. These programs are Schedule A, and Workforce Recruitment Program, described as follows:
The federal job application can process is often lengthy and competitive. However, federal agencies are able to use Schedule A as a process to speed up the hiring of individuals with disabilities. Schedule A does not guarantee you a job with the federal government, and it is your responsibility to ensure the hiring agency knows that you are eligible for Schedule A.
Eligibility for Schedule A. Students asking to be considered under Schedule A must:
- Be qualified for the job you are applying to
- Demonstrate proof of a disability. This is simply a letter stating that you have a disability, and can come from your doctor, a licensed medical professional, a licensed rehabilitation professional, or any entity that issues or provides disability benefits. The letter does NOT need to detail your medical history or your need for accommodations.
Applying with Schedule A:
- Once you find a job you are eligible for, obtain your proof of disability and get your resume and references in order before you apply.
- Reach out to the agency’s Selective Placement or Disability Employment Coordinator if you need help applying.
- Include your Schedule A proof of disability letter along with your resume when submitting your application materials online through usajobs.gov or the agency’s website.
Workforce Recruitment Program
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) connects federal and private sector employers to eligible students and recent graduates with disabilities and serves as the primary pipeline for bringing new hires into the federal government. Paid summer internships and full-time positions are available.
Eligibility for WRP:
- U.S. citizen.
- Have an intellectual, physical, or psychiatric disability (verified by a licensed professional).
- Current, full-time, degree-seeking college students,
Recent graduates, as defined by the Workforce Recruitment Program information for students.
For more information on WRP, Virginia Tech students may contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at Virginia Tech at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-3788.