“Trust me, this job search will be very different from any other search you ever do,” OCS adviser Benny Belvin said last Thursday in regard to finding a job in the government. At this OCS program entitled “Working for the Federal Government: Resources and Strategies for Finding Jobs and Internships,” Benny laid out the facts about this sometimes-nebulous career field.
First, Benny explained the application process and highlighted some of its idiosyncrasies. “You definitely won’t see expediency in this hiring process,” he warned students. This can be frustrating because there are “only so many ways into the field” of this meritocratic system. However, Benny encouraged students to plan ahead in applying and to prepare for a wait after submitting their application because this process simply entails many more steps than that of the private sector. Relatedly, Benny mentioned that the on-campus recruiting programs for government jobs do not serve the purpose one might expect: they exist more for informational purposes for potential employers, not for actual job recruiting.
One of the major differences between these applications and those of private corporations is the resume format: for government jobs, the required resumes are 4-5 pages that include much more information and detail. While creating such a long resume seems a daunting and burdensome task, it actually benefits both the hirers and the applicants: the depth and detail of this longer resume format ensures the compatibility of employee and position. “They want to make sure you are perfectly matched,” Benny clarified.
Despite these potential application drawbacks, Benny assured his audience that this field is definitely a rewarding one. “The government is the most stable employer that will continue to hire despite an ever-shifting economy,” he explained. The benefits are intense, salaries are very good, and opportunities to work one’s way up through the office are plenty. The salaries are based on a federal salary scale that ensures relatively good pay for all; this scale is based on qualifying education – so the more education one has, the more he or she is paid. Furthermore, careers within the federal government offer a range of geographic flexibility. According to Benny, “only 16% of federal jobs are located in Washington, D.C., and there are more than 50,000 federal jobs overseas.”
As these government jobs come with so many perks, the popular agencies will undoubtedly have an extremely high volume of applications. Benny recommended that students wishing to apply for these positions highlight their relevant skills in their application. “Those candidates that can exhibit their knowledge, skills and abilities in relation to the position they apply for will have the best chance of moving forward in the process,” he said. “Be sure to connect your skills to the position you are interested in.”
Julia Eger, ’14
For more information, visit http://www.ocs.fas.harvard.edu/students/careers/government.htm