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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: dontwannaworkforever on February 13, 2016, 11:37:32 PM

Title: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: dontwannaworkforever on February 13, 2016, 11:37:32 PM
I see the listed salaries of GS positions (I'm looking at GS-5 vacancies) and I see numbers from $32k-$45k. Do government jobs have COLA and housing allowances like the military?

I am looking to get an entry-level finance position for "Budget Analyst." I have served nearly 7 years in the military but my job in the military was construction and has no duties and responsibilities for a finance career. I will be finishing a degree in Finance from a regionally accredited institution in May...I will be job hunting in May-June.

I guess I made this thread in general to ask questions on tips for getting these jobs? I have applied to about 10 or so on USAjobs.gov but no luck (doesn't help that I don't have official documentation yet; just unofficial ones).

Any tips for getting a GS job?
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Widget on February 14, 2016, 12:53:22 AM
The range is due to the "steps" within each grade.  For each grade there are 10 steps within that grade. So for this Grade 5 position, they are saying step one starts at $32K, step 10 is at $45k.  You will pretty much always start at step 1.  You work your way up through the steps automatically (something like one step increase every year until step 3 or 4, then a step increase every 3 years, etc). 

You can see all the grade and steps here: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2016/general-schedule/
Make sure to choose the table for the location the job is in, as a "locality pay" is tacked on top of the "base pay" and can add $10k+ to your annual salary. The locality pay is included in the range given in the job posting. For the most part there are no housing allowances, that is just covered by the bump due to the locality pay.  Pretty much the best you can get for housing assistance is a PCS, which should be specified in the posting.

If you want more tips on getting through the USAjobs system, feel free to message me.  I'll check out your resume and compare it to the job posting.  There are a few "tricks", because the first step is always just getting it through the computer assessment. Your application won't even be seen by human eyes until you get "referred", meaning you meet the minimum qualifications.

General tips:
--Make sure you specify veteran's preference!!  That will be huge in terms of landing a GS job. 
--Don't use special characters in your resume, use the USAjobs resume builder to create one rather than uploading something you've already made. 
--Make sure you read the posting thoroughly and attach every document they ask for.  Failure to do so is an automatic out.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Ricksun on February 14, 2016, 05:14:59 AM
I agree with almost everything Widget wrote!  The exception is the steps.  With former military experience, even outside the field, you want to negotiate your step up front...  This is an area many HR reps actually have authority to change vs the grade.  Unfortunately, cost of living is built into the locality pay advertised, and there's no tax free housing allowance as you're used to in the military...   You are able to buy back your military time into years worked in the civilian pension system, so look into that.  There's a penalty if you wait too long.

Good luck with USAjobs, Its a slow process, so apply to everything under the sun, and be prepared to wait months for no response unfortunately.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Jon Bon on February 14, 2016, 06:00:06 AM
I would agree with the two posters above. The problem is of course everything is so slow, you might be on the bench for a year waiting to hear back.

My experience as a former (recovering?) GS worker is really play up you MS excel and access skills. If you don't have them learn them. Just about anything with analyst in the name is going to use those. The U.S. Government does not spend money on real software so they try to do everything with homegrown spread sheets and databases.

In the mean time I would encourage you to look elsewhere, you would want to avoid any gaps in your resume. My .02 on government work is if you want to do the exact same thing every day and punch a clock the a GS position is the way to go. I got bored very quickly and government work tends to pigeon hole you. Luckily I was able to get out and am much more satisfied with my job.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: garion on February 15, 2016, 09:13:13 AM
Most important (other than specifying veteran's preference, which you should definitely do) is to be sure to tailor your resume for each position. State your previous experience in terms of the KSAs using the exact wording from the posting. (i.e., if a posting asks for experience with oral communication, say "developed skill in oral communication through giving powerpoint presentations to groups," not "gave powerpoint presentations to groups).

ETA: Also, the process is extremely slow, so it would be a good idea to get something else while you are working on this. Even if you are chosen for a particular posting, the process can take 6 months or longer. Civilian positions don't have housing allowances, and USAjobs postings reflect locality adjustments (unless the posting is for multiple locations, in which case it would be reflected in the range). You can look up GS pay levels by locality online.

I am just about to leave a federal job, actually. Mine is not a permanent position, so I didn't get it through USAjobs, but I have been around the process. A lot of (but not all!) positions are earmarked, so don't get discouraged about rejections. I have enjoyed working in the federal service, but I did get bored with my job which is why I am leaving. But, I am not opposed to returning to federal work at some point.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: gliderpilot567 on February 15, 2016, 11:52:26 AM
Most important (other than specifying veteran's preference, which you should definitely do) is to be sure to tailor your resume for each position. State your previous experience in terms of the KSAs using the exact wording from the posting. (i.e., if a posting asks for experience with oral communication, say "developed skill in oral communication through giving powerpoint presentations to groups," not "gave powerpoint presentations to groups).

^^ This. The first thing that reads your USAJobs resume will be a computer, and it will look for specific wording in your resume that matches the job posting. This will immediately screen out applicants who don't season their resumes with these words and phrases.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: JZinCO on February 15, 2016, 11:57:46 AM
Most important (other than specifying veteran's preference, which you should definitely do) is to be sure to tailor your resume for each position. State your previous experience in terms of the KSAs using the exact wording from the posting. (i.e., if a posting asks for experience with oral communication, say "developed skill in oral communication through giving powerpoint presentations to groups," not "gave powerpoint presentations to groups).

^^ This. The first thing that reads your USAJobs resume will be a computer, and it will look for specific wording in your resume that matches the job posting. This will immediately screen out applicants who don't season their resumes with these words and phrases.
Not to mention it will help with the pass through HR which is likely centralized in a different city and has no idea what the position entails except for the job advert and some internal notes.
I've had a friend and the potential supervisor go back and forth with HR trying to justify why the friend was qualified for the given pay scale.

edit:
Also, OP you are going to qualify for a pathways position. They are like the old STEP/SCEP system. Applying via pathways has many advantages such as greater hiring discretion by the potential supervisor. Make sure it is described not as an internship but as a recent graduate position.
LAst, not sure if it has been said but you should probably get your DD-214 up on usajobs.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Drifterrider on February 16, 2016, 09:38:52 AM
I will be finishing a degree in Finance from a regionally accredited institution in May...I will be job hunting in May-June. Any tips for getting a GS job?

If your GPA is 3.5 or higher, PM me.  I am a budget analyst.
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Bicycle_B on February 16, 2016, 03:04:30 PM
Here are some resources for military personnel transitioning into the battle space zone of chaos known as the civilian job market:

www.fedshirevets.gov (feds hire vets)

http://veterans.jobs/veterans-resources (this is more general)

www.indeed.com/military (Indeed Military is a job board dedicated solely to job openings for ex-military, not just jobs with federal government.  You can even use your MOC to search for corresponding civilian jobs!)

I'm not a vet, I just copied these from the chapter on vets in What Color Is Your Parachute.  It has step by step instructions on how to find jobs when your initial job applications don't work.  Spend all your time for 2 months following the instructions.  It will be the equivalent of boot camp for getting civilian jobs, whether Government Service (GS) or not. At that point you will be ahead of most civilians.  Stick and move, soldier!



Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Bicycle_B on February 16, 2016, 03:13:27 PM
PS.  What Color Is Your Parachute book has some great sections on using experience you have (construction) as a basis for finding jobs in what you want (finance). 

Sometimes you take two steps instead of one to be successful.  For example, there might be finance-related jobs related to construction; take one of these, then you will have generalizable experience in finance. The book above has some detailed examples on how to recognize the key steps, and successfully contact the employers instead of dropping into "nobody answered my resume submission". 

Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: CapLimited on February 17, 2016, 01:51:07 PM
If you have a strong work ethic and think you might not mind continuous learning and researching Federal procurement regulations, do consider the GS-1102 Contract Specialist series.  I won't lie, it's not particularly fun for the first couple of years, and you do bust your behind, but if you work hard, stay on top of things, and maybe switch agencies when opportunities come up, you can advance really fast.  There always seems to be a chronic need for Contract Specialists in every agency. 
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: humbleMouse on February 17, 2016, 01:55:54 PM
This is a good resource:

http://www.careeronestop.org/
Title: Re: Anyone here have a government job (GS position?)
Post by: Nords on February 20, 2016, 03:36:58 PM
I have served nearly 7 years in the military...

I guess I made this thread in general to ask questions on tips for getting these jobs?

Any tips for getting a GS job?
Military veterans in GS jobs are eligible to claim military service credits.  More on that at these two posts:
http://gubmints.com/2013/03/26/gubmints-comprehensive-military-service-credit-deposit-guide/#.VsjqVLQrJhE
http://gubmints.com/2013/07/18/new-ebook-maximize-your-service-computation-date/#.VsjqOrQrJhE