Thinking of Trying for a Federal Job? Read This First

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Federal jobs are highly sought-after, and for good reason! A career in civil service offers long-term stability, fantastic health and retirement benefits, and a clear path to advancement. However, before you can enjoy all of this, you have to land the job, and the application process can feel intimidating. 

Unfortunately, applying for a federal job can be confusing. If you’ve ever filled out a FAFSA or tried to retrieve tax documents from previous years, you’re probably familiar with the less-than-streamlined experience of interacting with a government website. 

There’s no need to stress, though! Landing a job with the U.S. government may be a lot simpler than you think. Read through our guide to make the application process much less daunting. To maximize your chances of success, reach out to our team for help with perfecting your federal resume.

Let’s first debunk some persistent myths

It’s important to address a couple of myths that, for some reason, continue to discourage federal job seekers. One is that you must take a civil service exam to qualify for government employment. This is not true. While certain public sector jobs do require some form of testing, most do not, so there’s no reason to break out the civics textbooks. 

Many people also mistakenly believe that serving in the armed forces is a requirement for securing employment with the federal government. It is true that these jobs are in high demand and veteran status may give you a competitive edge, but prior military service is by no means a requirement, and many government employees have never served in the military.

How to get started

The first step in applying for a civil service job is to visit the federal government’s official employment site, This is the only place where you will find listings for federal vacancies (they won’t appear on regular job sites such as, but the process of applying is similar to that of applying for jobs elsewhere. 

You’ll need to create a resume, after which you can search and apply for available positions. Some jobs will require additional materials, which you’ll have the opportunity to upload. If you’d like to tailor your resume to apply for several positions, you can upload and store multiple versions—you should definitely do that as generic resumes rarely result in interviews

Filling out the application

Speaking of resumes, it’s important to make sure that yours is perfect before you submit it for a government vacancy. This is sound advice for any job seeker, but competition for civil service posts is particularly fierce, and you don’t want your application to be rejected simply because it contains a typo or irrelevant information. 

Although the federal jobs portal gives you the option to create a resume directly through it, it’s best to put one together in advance to upload when you’re ready to apply for a position. In this way, you have full control over the resume-crafting process and can double- and triple-check it to ensure that you’re making the best first impression possible. 

After you’ve written your resume and selected a job you’re interested in, it’s time to apply. Simply upload your resume, fill out the required forms, submit any additional materials if needed, and hit send! The same standard application advice applies: Make sure your resume is in perfect shape, contains appropriate keywords (to get past the unforgiving applicant tracking systems that screen resumes and determine whether to pass them along to human reviewers), and is tailored to the requirements of the job you’re pursuing. Do this, and you’ll be on your way to landing the civil service job you’ve been dreaming of.

If you want to maximize your chances of standing out from the crowd, have our experts review your resume and give you personalized feedback!

Improve Your Resume or CV