Federal Careers: Explore the Possibilities

This blog post has been updated by Kristina Rust, Career Consultant on April 1, 2024 for relevancy, inclusivity, and formatting.

Do you want to have a significant impact on people’s lives?

Do you care deeply about good governance?

Are you a “change agent” – optimistic, skilled with a can-do attitude that is complimented by a sense of realism and practicality? Do you recognize that government changes come in small measures?

In our federal government, there are jobs for every type of person with every type of background. Basically, every job that exists in the private sector (i.e. corporate and nonprofit America) also exists in the public sector. Everyone – from teachers to interior designers to engineers – has a place in the federal government workforce.

So why work for the federal government?

  • The government wants to hire students and recent graduates. The Federal Government has taken steps to help students and recent graduates join the Federal service. The Pathways Programs include the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF). To learn more, visit USAJOBS.
  • Great benefits and competitive pay. Average government salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors. Pay can also increase fairly quickly for top candidates with strong education and experience. Federal benefits, including health insurance, retirement and vacation, are extremely competitive with, if not superior to, other sectors.
  • Interesting and challenging work. In today's civil service, government workers are leading and innovating on issues such as developing vaccines for deadly diseases, fighting sexual and racial discrimination, keeping our massive systems of transportation safe, and navigating the diplomatic waters overseas.
  • Job security. Government work is steady and secure, an attractive selling point, especially when economic times are tough.

Where to Start

  • Do some research and identify positions you are qualified for. GoGovernment has a variety of resources, step-by-step instructions on starting your job search and testimonials from federal employees. USAJOBS provides a list of “Federal Jobs by College Major” – use this to identify positions that specifically target your major.
  • Prepare a federal resume. These include different content and formatting than a traditional resume. See our Federal Resume Guide for more details.
  • Check current openings. Visit USAJOBS for the U.S. Government’s official listing of job opportunities. Keep in mind that some agencies prefer to post jobs on their own website (CIA, NSA, etc.)
  • Tailor your resume. Understand the job description and identify keywords. Determine the skill sets necessary for the position and incorporate the keywords from the description into your resume.

Overall, have realistic expectations. Applying for a federal job is a lengthy process, so it will take longer to hear back about your status. Be patient. Your career consultant is here to help review your application materials and help you decide which positions are a good fit for you.

There are many possibilities for your career during and after college. The federal government is one of those possibilities, so explore, take a look for yourself and decide what is right for you.



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