Research Federal Job Announcements (Step 3)

Launching a federal job search is daunting. My goal is to take away the mystique surrounding the notoriously complicated application process by arming you with knowledge… after all, knowledge is power.

This is a continuation of a series of articles on the steps to landing a federal job – a series I’ve regrettably neglected to visit in quiet some time. Because articles on federal resumes and the federal hiring process  tend to be my most popular, and the federal government is currently advertising thousands of job opportunities (on average, 20,000 listed per day), the time to revisit the federal job search process is now. To see steps 1 and 2, select “Federal Jobs (Steps to Get a)” to the right under “category”.

After networking (step 1) and reviewing the federal job search process (step 2) to determine the right agencies, grade/salary level, and occupational series for you, continue your federal career search by researching vacancy announcements (step 3).

Learn how to search is a one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. The website offers fist-time visitors information on (1) how to use it, (2) the federal hiring process, and (3) special hiring programs. First-timers should visit to understand how they fit into the federal government and how to find jobs that fit their experience and interests. can be searched by:

1. Keyword (i.e. “nurse” or “software engineer”, etc.)

2. Geographic preference

Advanced search parameters include: keyword, job title, occupational series, salary range, and applicant eligibility (including a veteran eligible for veterans’ preference).

Once you come up with job announcements in your range, start reading and analyzing your list.

Understand announcement features.

Be sure to read every element of the job announcement thoroughly.

Closing Date – A search will generate a list of job announcements. Those job announcements that close the earliest often appear at the top of the list. Make sure the closing date gives you enough time to prepare (or have your federal military resume professionally prepared by, answer any self-assessment questionnaires, and apply for the job. Scroll down the list if necessary to find a date conducive to your schedule. If a job announcement is “open continuously” or has a closing date that is 2 years away, then it is a database-building announcement.

Who Can Apply – “Open” means anyone can apply. “Status” means that an applicant must work for (or have worked for) the federal government or have a special status because of military experience (see note below). For more information on veterans’ preference, go to or see my article on determining veterans’ preference under the “Federal Resumes” category.

Note: Following an initial search, look to the right of the screen. Two more search options will be revealed: “Public” and “All” jobs. Because veterans may be eligible to apply for “Public” and “Status” jobs – “All” jobs is a wise search option. Click “All” jobs and run your search again.

Location – Make sure you are willing to work in this geographic location. Check to make sure people who live outside of the region can apply for the position.

Duties – The description of duties will be written based on the actual position description. The write-up will include “keywords” that should be included in your federal resume.

Qualifications/How You Will Be Evaluated – Are you qualified? If you can’t meet any of the generalized or specialized qualifications, find another announcement. This area should also be analyzed for “keywords”.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities – Determine if you will be required to demonstrate “KSAs” in the text of your federal military resume or on a separate sheet of paper. “Public” jobs tend to favor essay-style KSAs, while “Status” jobs tend to ask for KSAs in the body of your federal military resume. More on including KSAs and “keywords” in a federal resume to follow in a future article.

How to Apply – Read all instructions thoroughly. Many applications include a federal military resume, KSAs (if required), your last evaluation, DD-214, and transcripts (sometimes).

Landing a federal job takes preparation and hard work. Understanding where to look, how to target your search, and how to compare your background to the position is just one of the steps to success.