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Finding and Applying for Federal Jobs

There are many federal government career opportunities available for veterinarians. Though the process to apply may seem tedious compared to other veterinary positions, the benefits of working for the government are numerous, including:

  • Public service/mission-oriented
  • Job security and career stability
  • Competitive pay
  • Strong career ladder - room for advancement
  • Some jobs offer student loan repayment programs
  • Training and professional development opportunities
  • Flexible work schedule and telecommuting in some positions
  • Government pension and other health and retirement benefits

Getting Started: Find and Apply for a Federal Job

  1. Visit usajobs.gov - the government is required to post all open positions to this site

  2. Create an account—it will allow you to save resumes and access saved positions

  3. Search by location or interest—you can also do a broader search by typing the following numbers (called series) into the "what" field on the front page:

    1. "0400" - Natural Resources and Biological Sciences

    2. "0700" - Veterinary Medical Science

    3. "0701" - Veterinary Medical Science (research-based)

    4. "0704" - Animal Health

  4. Submit a specific resume for each position (see role of Human Resources below)

  5. Complete a self-assessment questionnaire for each position

The Role of Human Resources in Federal Positions

When you apply for a federal job, your application does not go directly to the agency in which you are applying. The Federal Government Human Resources Department (OMP) sees all resumes and decides if you are qualified based on what you submit and your self-assessment questionnaire. Important things to remember when submitting your resume:

  • Have a specific resume for each position that highlights your experience for that particular job. For example, if you are applying for a veterinarian position working with large animals, highlight experience you have with large animals first. If the job description says you will be managing a team of veterinarian assistants, make sure you mention any managerial experience you have.
  • Use key words that are used in the job description. This is why it is important for you to submit a separate resume for each position—the job posting may be the only information the hiring manager has about the job, so using the same language as the job posting is essential. If the hiring manager does not think your resume matches the qualifications listed in the posting, he/she will not send it on for further review. Make it easy for the hiring manager to see how qualified you are for the position by using the same words that are used in the posting.
  • The most vital information should be first. If the description focuses on education, then so should your resume. Put it first, along with any additional professional training and accreditation, and then work experience second. If the job description has a long list of duties, highlight your work experience first.
  • Be concise. Ask yourself the following questions: Can a hiring manager see my main credentials within 10-15 seconds? Does the critical information jump of the page? Do I effectively sell myself in the top quarter of the page?
  • Proofread! Any spelling and punctuation errors or omissions will immediately disqualify your application.

After You Apply

Be patient! The hiring process for federal positions tends to take more time than traditionally expected. It may take up to six months for someone to get in contact with you. You will only be contacted if your resume has been chosen by HR to be sent to the hiring agency, so don’t limit yourself by only applying to one position. Continue to persevere and apply for any and all positions that fit your education and experience level.

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