Are you qualified to apply for this federal job?

2 02 2014

Knowing how to analyze a federal job opportunity announcement is vital when developing a competitive application package.  Although each section of the announcement is important, the qualifications section holds the key to determining whether or not you should take the time to apply for the job.  Look for the term “specialized experience” (sometimes the term “experience” is used).  The specialized experience presented there identifies whether or not you qualify to apply for the job.  If you meet at least 80% of the experience requirements, you are qualified to apply — if you meet one more condition. You must also have a year of experience working at the next lower grade level.  There is no clear definition of what the next lower grade level means unless you are a fed.  Do not allow this to deter you from applying — there are lots of outside hires each year.  My suggestion would be to review the duties section, then make an educated guess on how your level of responsibility relates to the requirements of the job.

While it may seem obvious that the qualifications are located in the qualifications section, applicants sometimes lose sight of this while reading and analyzing the announcement.  This is why: feds are very clear on the experience they are seeking.  However, the manner in which they share this information often includes jargon, which most people find confusing.  When reading this section, keep in mind there are three ways to qualify: 1) education, OR 2) experience, OR 3) a combination of the two.  Be sure to identify each as you carefully parse your way through.

An aside:  If you look at the duties and think “I can do that,”  you will probably be missing the point.  Federal agencies know you can learn the duties if you can meet their qualifications standards.

One more thing…when analyzing the announcement, first see if you are eligible to apply by reviewing the “Area of Consideration” section.  My rule of thumb:  if you can understand the terms used there, you are eligible to apply.  If not, you aren’t.  The people who are eligible under these acronyms already know what they mean.

Since it might take up to 15 hours for you to complete a federal application, it is important to apply only for the jobs for which you are qualified.  Review the application to see if you are eligible and qualified to apply for the position before getting started.