Getting Beyond the "Black Hole" of USAJobs

Veterans often want to work for the government, but find the USAJobs application process to be a “black hole” and they just give up.  Bob Gossett, an Employment Specialist with the Alabama Dept. of Labor Career Center in Huntsville, graciously offers practical and professional advice.  

Thank you, Bob for your guest blog post!


So, I do a monthly training session on writing federal resumes and applying for federal jobs in general. In the training, I combine my knowledge of the civilian personnel hiring process gained from the HR staff at CPAC at Redstone Arsenal and training provided through USAJobs by Todd Flourshiem at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Disclaimer: I don’t claim to know everything there is to know, but I know the training has helped folks get positive results. Okay, that out of the way, moving on. What I find most common is frustration with federal resumes to the point that many people have simply thrown in the towel, surrendering only to salvage whatever is left of their sanity, me included! Reason being, there has been nowhere to get help understanding the whole federal job application/resume/process – until recently.

USAJobs/OPM has done a great job of putting together virtual training modules to help people interested in a federal career understand more about applying for federal jobs. In the past the only way to learn anything was through trial and error, and heavily weighted on the error side (speaking for myself here). This only led to myths, confusion, wasted time, hair-pulling, minor sobbing, and a ton of frustration. Not to mention clogging up the system with junk applications. Yes, myself included, but not the sobbing part.

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Knowledge is Power

My advice to anyone looking for a career with the federal government is to educate yourself before you see that perfect job you’ve been waiting for posted on USAJobs. Trust me, it will be worth the investment. Seek out the information so you have it when you need it. Get on USAJobs several times a week, if not daily, to look at what jobs are posted. Read the job announcements to educate yourself and stay current on things like what jobs are posted, the requirements/qualifications, intern opportunities, etc., and overall features and functionality of the site. I do this and I’m not even looking for a federal job (really, I’m not, in case my boss reads this). Click on all the links in job announcements and attend the virtual training that interests you. USAJobs now has a Facebook page where you can ask questions and get answers!

Improve Your Federal Resume

Tips for writing your resume: Register for the virtual resume writing training. Don’t apply for another job until you hear Todd’s presentation! Keep your resume under 7 pages, write in narrative (paragraph) style, keeping paragraphs short to give the reader a natural stopping point. Include results to provide evidence concerning what changed for the better and/or what improved. Hiring managers are now looking for statements in your resume that include measureable results: money and/or people managed, examples of followership and leadership, teamwork, significance of impact, cost savings, deadlines meet, awards/recognition you received. No excuses – the information you need is on USAJobs. Go get it, and good luck


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Guest Blog Post by:  Bob Gossett, Career Center Specialist, Alabama Career Center, Huntsville, AL, robert.gossett@alcc.alabama.gov