2017 was quite a year for folks looking to land a career in the federal government. For starters, the year started off with a hiring “freeze” for federal agencies followed by a series of new initiatives to transform federal hiring by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). I emphasize “freeze” because contrary to popular belief, the federal government didn’t actually stop hiring federal employees.
To be clear, the hiring freeze is over now. Most agencies have picked up hiring again, but agencies with a national security, public health, law enforcement, or other missions the government considered to be “critical” never really stopped hiring. This meant there were (and still are) thousands of federal jobs waiting to be filled!
Think about what would happen if the federal government didn’t exempt many of the agencies that provide vital public services that people rely on each day – public education, transportation, public safety, national defense, and disease prevention. So while the freeze was in effect, it really only meant that hiring slowed down for most agencies. While the hiring freeze wasn’t a totally pleasant experience, the OPM is looking for opportunities to revitalize the federal workforce.
With the hiring freeze over and a new focus on making federal careers more accessible, there are tons of new opportunities within reach. For instance, if you are a college student or recently graduated college (within the past two years) then you are in luck! Many federal agencies offer special hiring authorities for candidates that fall into these categories. Most of the time the application process is easy and you just need to submit a competitive resume and a copy of your transcripts to be considered.
Another area where federal hiring is attractive is for eligible military veterans and their spouses. There are certain hiring preferences afforded to individuals that meet eligibility requirements. This means that some veterans can get a leg up in the hiring process over other candidates when they apply. That’s a huge benefit that veterans and their spouses need to take advantage of.
What is important to remember, for when a hiring freeze occurs again in the future, is that the government is still actually hiring – the process just becomes slower. So you’ll need to have more patience in your approach. Think strategically too! If you want to begin a career in the federal government during a hiring freeze, look at agencies not as affected by the freeze. There is always an opportunity to begin your federal career no matter the time, you just have to make sure you’re taking an efficient approach.
Mark can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about how you can start or improve your federal career search.