How to Land a Government Job

The government is one of the largest employers in the United States. If you are looking for a job, landing a government position is a great way to go. There are many different types of government jobs, and many places where you can search for them. In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to get a government job. We will also provide tips on how to create a federal government resume that will stand out from the competition!

The government is a large employer, with many different types of jobs available. It can be overwhelming to try and search for government jobs without having a specific focus. The job titles with the government can be quite different than the private sector. So, you will want to explore the options before making your decision about what types of roles you want to pursue in the government.

Before you start your job search, take some time to think about what type of government job you are interested in. What skills do you have that would make you a good fit for the job? Once you have a focus, you can start to narrow down your search.

There are many different government job websites that you can use to find open positions. is a great place to start your search. This website is the official job site for the federal government, and it lists all of the open positions in the government. You can search by job title, agency, or location.

Another great resource for finding government jobs is the state government careers site or your local city/county government. These levels of government have a number of jobs available and they can have a greater impact on your community.

Once you have found a few government job openings that interest you, it is time to start applying.

#2 Understand the Government Hiring Process

The government hiring process is different than the private sector.  In the private sector, you can get the job through employee referrals or other avenues. However, in the government hiring process, it can be a much stricter qualification basis. This means that the candidate must meet the exact requirements listed in the job description. You cannot move through the government hiring process unless your resume and application materials clearly demonstrate how you meet the requirements for the job.

The government hiring process will also provide preferences for certain categories of candidates. This includes military service, military spouses, disabled veterans, Native Americans, residency, and other preferences. These preferences can vary considerably at different levels of the government. So, make sure you know which preferences apply and clearly include your qualification for such preference on all of your application materials to ensure that you receive the appropriate credit.

#3 Build Your Government Resume

Now that you know the types of government jobs that you want to pursue and how the hiring process works, you need to build your government resume to start applying.

In the government, your resume will be one of the most important pieces of application materials that you submit. Unlike in the private sector where a cover letter may be optional, in government, it is required.

Your resume should list all of your relevant work experience and education. It is also important to list any skills or qualifications that make you a good fit for the government job.

When you are writing your resume, make sure to tailor it to the government position that you are applying for. Highlight how your skills and qualifications meet the requirements of the job.

Additionally, be sure to use keywords related to the government job in your resume. This will help ensure that your resume is found when government recruiters are searching for qualified candidates.

Moreover, your federal government resume should list the particular experience or skill in each role where it was obtained. This may feel like a repetition, but the person reviewing your resume will have to measure your experience for the particular roles. Showing all of the skills and achievements across your career are important to get through the qualification process. Need help building your government resume? Get help now.

#4 Follow the Directions When Applying

The key to any effective government job search is to apply to jobs. Most people need to apply for a lot of jobs in their government search.  This is because there is a lot of competition for government jobs. You will have to apply to several positions if you want to make the move to the government sector.

You will also need to make sure that you are following all of the instructions in your applications. In many government jobs, there are additional application questions that must be completed in order to finalize your application.

What is unique about these questions is that most government agencies use these to screen candidates before they even look at the resumes. Thus, you must answer each question fully and separately in order to get through the screening process. You cannot simply answer these additional questions with "See resume." If you do so, you will almost always be rejected.

So, take the time to complete the answers to the additional questions and remember to save your answers for use with future applications to government positions. Want help with your answers to those additional application questions? Have an expert craft the perfect answers today.

#5 Be Ready to Wait

The government hiring process can take a lot longer than the private sector. In many agencies, the people that review the applications cannot do so until the position officially closes. Unlike the private sector, this means that no one may look at your application until the application period closes.

And, when someone does look at your application, it can take a lot longer. The government does use technology to sort and review applications. However, someone is actually still reviewing the applications. And, as explained above, this person will almost always start with those additional questions to filter applicants.

Thus, the review process can involve 2 stages - the job application questions and the resume. From there, candidates are often notified that they have made the cut to the next stage. At that point, an interview is scheduled. The interviewing process can take time. And, there are often multiple interviews in the government hiring process.

In the private sector, there are also a number of interviews. But, in the private sector, there is often a greater sense of urgency in scheduling and completing the interviews. In the government, the interviewing process is a process. Thus, the hiring process will be determined and then followed - without a lot of deviation.

So, it is not uncommon for the government hiring process to take a lot longer. This complexity and time can be much greater at the federal level. In fact, it is not uncommon for some federal hiring processes to take 6+ months. So, make sure that you continue to apply to jobs in the meantime if you want to make the leap to government service.

#6 Prepare for Testing and Additional Screening

The government hiring process will also frequently include additional testing and screening. This can include testing for skills, fitness for the job, character investigations, security clearances, and more.

Each agency is different in how they screen and test candidates. And, the form of the tests can vary tremendously between the levels of government and each agency. These tests can be in the form of an interview, reference checks, written tests, or online assessments. So, be prepared for whatever testing may come to ensure that you can make it to the next step in the hiring process.

#7 Prepare for the Interviews

The final step to landing a government job is to be ready for the interviews. The interviewing process in the government hiring process is different than the private sector. It can be structured differently and you can be asked different types of questions.

Make sure to do your research to prepare for the government interviewing process. And, in doing so, remember that how you answer questions should be different as well. Really, the motivations and evaluations of government employees are different than their counterparts.

For example, profits and product launches are no longer as important. Instead, the goal of government roles is often public service and engagement. Reframe your achievements in the private sector so that they can be clearly relevant in your government interview. Want help preparing for your upcoming government job interview? Work with one of our coaches to get expert advice now.  

The government hiring process is long, but it is possible to land a government job. By following the steps above, you can increase your chances of success in getting a government position. Good luck!