Career Matters

By Lily Whiteman

Look beyond USAJobs.gov

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Contrary to popular belief, USAJobs.gov does not list all federal job opportunities. Some of the types of openings and opportunities you might miss if you restrict your job search to USAJobs:

*Openings in the excepted service. While agencies generally are required to advertise competitive service openings and fill them through open competitions, agencies in the excepted service may fill their openings through their own relatively flexible procedures, which do not necessarily involve posting openings on USAJobs. These agencies include the State Department, CIA and other intelligence agencies, Government Accountability Office and the Federal Reserve Board. How to find openings in excepted service agencies: Network; and find the names of managers of departments that interest you in The Yellow Book or on agency Web sites and make cold calls. Comparable jobs pay more in many excepted service agencies than in other federal agencies.

*Detail assignments. A detail assignment is a temporary assignment outside your home office or agency. While detailed, an employee remains on the payroll of his home organization but works for another organization. You may want to work a detail to broaden your experience, network, work for a more prestigious organization or scope out another organization. Detail assignments — like rent-with-option-to-buy agreements — frequently lead to permanent jobs.

Find detail assignments by using your networking contacts. Also, when you read the newspaper and publications that target feds, look out for discussions of new agencies and temporary governmentwide organizations, such as task forces and commissions, that may need temporary staff. Call the staff directors of organizations that interest you, describe your credentials and inquire about detail possibilities.

*Job fairs. Some federal job fairs are hosted by a single agency, and others draw many agencies as well as private-sector employers that have openings. Some agencies use these events to fill openings through fast-track procedures or even on-the-spot offers. Therefore, you may find openings at career fairs that are not advertised anywhere else.

To find federal career fairs: Check the Sunday classifieds of The Washington Post. “Google” the names of your target agencies along with keywords, such as “job fairs.” Check the Web site of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., for information about her annual job fairs, which always feature dozens of federal agencies. Check the Web site of the Partnership for Public Service. If you are a member of a minority group, attend conferences sponsored by minority organizations, such as the NAACP, Society of Black Engineers or American Indian Science and Engineering Society; federal agencies frequently recruit at events sponsored by these organizations.

*Jobs in the Foreign Service, the nation’s diplomatic corps. The Foreign Service has branches in four agencies: the State Department, the largest branch; Agency for International Development; Agriculture Department; and Commerce Department. In addition to Foreign Service employees, each Foreign Service agency has significant numbers of civil service employees. Most of these employees are based in the U.S., but some may work overseas on short-term assignments. All four Foreign Service agencies recruit current feds from other agencies, but each has its own hiring procedures, which are listed on its Web site. Note that the State Department is the only Foreign Service agency that requires Foreign Service officers to take the Foreign Service Officer test.

*Fellowships for experienced professionals. Agencies and other organizations offer dozens of well-paying fellowships featuring training, mentoring and career-building seminars for varied types of experienced professionals. Some of these programs exclusively recruit nonfeds, but others are open to current feds as well. Examples you might research include the Commerce Science and Technology Fellowship, the Brookings Institution’s Legis Congressional Fellowship, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Fellows Program, the government’s Information Technology Exchange Program, the International Experience and Technical Assistance Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Voyagers Program sponsored by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council, and the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation Fellowship.

Lily Whiteman is a public affairs officer at the National Science Foundation and author of “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job.’’ Her Web site is IGotTheJob.net. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent the views of the National Science Foundation.

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