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Two-Part Series on Government Jobs -- PART ONE: HOW TO FIND & READ JOB ADS

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch August 22, 2013
Federal jobs, positions where you are an employee of the government, are all listed at  This website is a one-stop shop for all positions across the entire US government.  There are other opportunities to work with the government, one of the largest being a contractor, which we will talk about more in Part Two. USAjobs has a reputation of being hard to search, but it is not that bad.  Take some time to familiarize yourself with the site and find some keywords and job titles that work for you. Some Job Search Tips:
  • UNDERSTAND THE SYSTEM Occupations are classified in the government system based on what you do, for example biomedical scientists will typically be in the 400 (biology), or the 600 (medical, hospital, dental, and public health) series.  A recent search for the 400 series brought up 255 openings across the US.  The list can also be sorted based on college major
  • USE SEARCH CRITERIA TO FILTER RESULTS You can refine your search by pay grade, or the salary level that you expect to be paid.  We are seeing bachelor level scientists starting at a pay level of GS-07, master’s level at a pay grade of GS-09, and PhDs at a pay level of GS-12.  This is not to say any of these are guaranteed and you may want a job that is above or below these pay scales.
  • UTILIZE JOB SEARCH AGENTS After you log in to your USAjobs account, you will want to set up a few saved job search agents.  From the home page, click on the “Advanced Search” tab which allows you to search by: keyword, occupation series, geographic location, salary range, specific agencies, and much more. When asked to create a name for this saved search, you can enter whatever phrase will help jog your memory, such as: “Science Policy in DC” or “San Diego Scientist.” You will have the option to select to receive email notifications (daily, weekly, or monthly) when new positions are posted that match your saved search criteria. It is highly recommended that you utilize this option. Usually the weekly option is best since you will still see what is being posted but your inbox won’t be inundated by emails. You can create and save up to ten different search agents, so try to make each one as different as possible which will enable you to receive that widest variety of matches.
To help clarify these tips, let’s take apart a recent job at the FDA posted on Reading a Job Ad: .....44444 Lots more information can be found at OPM’s website.  Be sure to continue checking the blog for part two in this series -- Government Jobs: Part 2// Which Federal Agencies & Contractors Hire Scientists? *** Disclaimer: The information expressed in this post is solely the views and opinions of the OITE authors and do not necessarily reflect the official hiring policies of any agency of the U.S. government.

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