Job hunting: What could go wrong?

Many, maybe most people reading this, work for the government. So obviously they got a job, although perhaps not the first one they tried for. Or the job they really wanted.

But if you are thinking about moving on, or are advising a nonfed friend or relative how to join the G-club or the private sector, this guest column may be for you. It was written by long-time Department of Veterans Affairs worker who has clearly been around the block.

Why Didn’t I Get That Job?

Applying for a job — any job — can be a frustrating and disappointing experience.


How about getting hired by the federal government? Any less frustrating?

Well, here’s some advice (Please note: Your mileage may vary and other restrictions may apply, etc.) shared with me by an old Army buddy, who is also a fed:

You’ve got to have the mentality that every announcement you apply for (across the entire government) is going to get rejected somewhere along the way because of any number of reasons. Pick one:

  • “Minimal qualifications met,”
  • “Hiring official decided to cancel position,”
  • “Qualified, but not referred to hiring official,”
  • “Not qualified” (etc., etc.)

For every position you apply for, very few will work their way to “referred to hiring official.” However, even then a whole number of things happen, where, in some cases, you won’t get interviewed because the job was “wired/fixed” for someone the hiring official already had in mind, and that person would get the job.

Once the hiring official receives the “Cert” (aka, the certificate containing the list of names recommended for interview/selection) from personnel, he or she is not legally obligated to conduct interviews, especially if the person they want for the job is on the cert.

So that’s not to say you shouldn’t keep flooding with your resume — don’t stop applying — but try not to take any of the rejection personally.

And if you are fortunate enough to interview, and you still did not get the job? According to a recent Wall Street Journal column, you’ll probably never know why.

What are your experiences with Federal job hunting? Please leave a comment. Thanks!” — Ken


Compiled by Jack Moore

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