Paying Attention

9 10 2014

I just listened to +Denise Wakeman’s Google+ hangout on blogging like a pro led by guest speaker and Social Networking Strategist, +Rebekah Radice.  It was interesting and inspiring.  So here I am brushing the cobwebs off my much neglected blog.  As anyone who follows me here knows, not only am I not blogging like a pro, I’m not blogging.

Some of my concerns: Where does the motivation come from?  How do I get myself to follow a regular blogging schedule?  How do I get myself to take blogging seriously?

My most recent contract as a federal career counselor ended last Tuesday.  Now I have more time to pay attention to blogging.  Which brings me to the actual point of this blog.  Where am I focusing my attention, and is it the right place for me?

We each know we do the things we pay attention to.  If I want to get something done I focus and put great effort into it.  That’s what I did with my contract.  But it’s time to move on to the next phase of my career.  Will blogging enhance it?  I sincerely believe it will and am committing to making it work.

I’m back and plan to stay on track.  Thanks, Denise Wakeman and Rebekah Radice for being the driving force for motivating me to pay attention.


Managing Your Federal Job Search Campaign — my guest blog on Careers In Government

26 08 2014

Did you know that the federal job search campaign is different from any other?  Many people do not understand the importance of having a strategic plan for their job search, and a federal job search requires even more specificity.  Please take a look at my guest blog to find out how! Feel free to share further insights and comments:;

Can You Follow the “How to Apply” Instructions?

4 08 2014

In previous posts I addressed two key issues in analyzing a federal vacancy announcement: 1) Are You ELIGIBLE to apply and 2) Are You QUALIFIED to apply.  The third key element in applying for a federal job is being able to follow directions,  In other words, can you adhere to the HOW TO apply instructions located at the end of the vacancy announcement?

Contrary to popular belief, federal employees are hard workers who are generally very good at following instructions. They are lots more productive than the media would have us to believe.

First the Content, then the Learning

4 08 2014

The content for my Federal Job Fit course is up; posting it in a way that made the information compelling was a bit of a challenge, but do-able.  Now the deep analysis begins: What do I want participants to learn and how do I want them to learn it?  What is enough and what is too much?  I love facts, but many people don’t.  How do I balance facts and abstractions?

I am using HaikuLMS as my platform.  Learning it was time consuming, but not as difficult as I feared.  I still have a way to go until I thoroughly understand the system, but I am making progress.

Now I must create reasonable assignments and discussions that enhance learning, and take about two hours per week to complete.  I am told that’s what a working professional can handle.  It’s a reasonable expectation, but harder than I imagined.

Taking on a new challenge typically includes a learning curve.  Learning theory indicates that adults aren’t comfortable with the ambiguity it takes to master a new skill, and in my case, they are right.  Even so the challenge feels somewhat delicious, and for each small success I get a warm, fuzzy feeling.

From content to assignments to learning.  I imagine my students will feel the same about learning the content as I do about learning the system.  I intend to remember this feeling.  I am looking forward to assisting others through their learning curve and to remembering how it feels to take on a new, yet compelling challenge!

Leaving My Comfort Zone, and Finding a New One

7 07 2014

I like to know how things are done; it’s my comfort zone.  I am not happy in a workshop when the presenter tells me I should do something but doesn’t tell me how to do it.  …Yes, I know I should be doing it — that’s why I chose your workshop!!

So when it came time to develop an on-line workshop, I was stymied.  I wanted the how-to information before I got started.  I wanted another person to tell me how to do it.  I wanted a step-by-step manual that gave me specific information about how I would need to develop my unique workshop.  I wanted; I wanted; I wanted.

I am one of those people who, when I feel insecure, needs specific instructions.  I get “uber” aware of my inadequacies and want someone to bail me out!!  I think I might even get defensive.  Can you imagine wanting to help a (somewhat) argumentative, defensive person?  Me neither.

I’m starting to accept living with ambiguity with this new effort.  There is an uncomfortable learning curve as I take risks, fail, and try again.  It really is trial and error.  Learning how to do something properly three days after I did it improperly contains a bit of triumph aligned with a modicum of frustration.

But I am growing — and in the process learning a new skill.  Slowly but surely, I’m learning the how-to of creating an online learning workshop.  In the process I’m finding a new, improved comfort zone.

Are you eligible to apply for that federal job?

8 04 2014

What does it mean to be eligible to apply for a federal job?  Many people think that because a vacancy is posted, they can apply for it, but that is not the case.  The very first item to check out in a federal vacancy announcement is the Area of Consideration.  Karol’s rule of thumb:  if you do not understand the words used to describe that section, there is an excellent chance that you are not eligible to apply.  If you do not meet the Area of Consideration criteria, your application package will be discarded through a preprogrammed electronic screening process.

Everyone knows what U.S. Citizen or The Public means, but most people do not know the other acronyms used under Area of Consideration.  Individuals familiar with the acronym have already received notification about their eligibility.  If the acronyms VEOA, CTAP, ICTAP, etc. mean nothing to you, move on.  The folks they apply to have been made aware.  Sometimes the Area of Consideration is for an office component, sometimes only for people working in a Department.  Again, there is no reason to put effort into applying for such a position, your application package will not be considered.

Determining your eligibility to apply for a federal is your first step toward keeping your spirits up while completing your federal job search. Many people think the federal job search is a black hole that sucks your application package into seemingly nothingness.  It’s not.  You just need to be aware of and to practice the basics.  Soon you’ll be applying only for jobs for which you are eligible.

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.