federal job searchIt’s January 2015! Time to set some goals!! Let’s see…eat right, exercise, lose weight, and spend time perfecting our federal job application package. If we were honest, we might admit that we establish the same goals year after year without doing anything – or maybe the right thing – about them. So perhaps it’s time to stop “spinning our wheels,” to pace ourselves, and to take a moment to reflect on last year’s accomplishments.


Savor last year’s highlights and make time to bask in their glory. Then take a moment to ponder things you did not get around to doing. Get a clear picture of where you focused your efforts. Now consider this: we each make time for the things that energize us, and try to ignore the things that don’t. It’s important to figure out where our passions lie, and to continue to do the things that engage and delight us.

If you’ve been searching for a federal job without results, this is an excellent time to contemplate your process. Do you know how to navigate the federal hiring system? If you do, your application package will regularly be referred to the hiring manager, with the offer of an interview. If that’s not happening, it’s time to slow down and, again, reflect. Take time to determine if a federal job is something you really want. If it is, you will realign your thoughts to align with your actions.


Your federal job search priority is to have your federal résumé referred to the hiring manager. If that’s not happening, you need a new direction. If you have done your best, and you are still not being referred, it’s time to try another technique. You might need to pay someone to teach you the system so you are clear about the appropriate steps. Such an action is an investment in your future. While it’s true that federal job search coaches and/or federal résumé writers often cost more than you initially want to pay, the income and stability you garner from acquiring a federal job makes hiring one a worthwhile investment.


If you decide that the federal job search process is too expensive and too cumbersome, that’s perfectly fine. Remember that you are in reflection mode, and you could be drawing a viable conclusion. If you are not willing to or cannot put the time and effort into developing a competitive federal application package for each and every job submission, there is no reason to apply. One federal entry-level job opening can sometimes attract as many as 500 applications. You can imagine that an application package without all the “bells and whistles” will not make it through the initial screening process.


Maybe your reflections reveal that you really do want a federal job, but you have not committed properly. One way to motivate yourself is to think about the things you did right. How many of your previous application packages were reviewed and rated? That’s a big deal in a federal job search. Were most of your applications referred to the hiring manager? Even bigger. Are you getting interviews? That’s the biggest deal of all.

Dwell on the positive things in your process; then build on them. Call the contact person on the vacancy announcement to find out if they will provide the number of rating points you earned. Some will; some won’t, but you will not know unless you ask. The closer to 100 points, the better. Ninety five to 100 rating points validate that you are doing things right, and that your process only needs find tuning.


Allowing 2015 to be the year you give yourself time to become slowly aware of your true goals can work miracles. Pace yourself and make informed decisions about tasks you actually want to pursue. Rather than rushing into the New Year, ease into it. Consider your unique needs, decide what works best for you, garner the confidence to pursue it, and only then take action.

Karol Taylor is a retired fed and Career Counselor who helps individuals.to target their federal jobs search. She is the coauthor of Find Your Federal Job Fit and Guide to America’s Federal Jobs, 4th ed. Karol can be reached at karol@tayloryourcareer.com

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