Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

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Government continues to hire even as federal workforce declines slightly in July

Retirements and diverse budget trends among federal agencies mean that Uncle Sam does hire tens of thousands of professionals each month.

But the competition for these high-paying, benefits-rich jobs is fierce, so candidates must put forward the best possible federal resume and application, says Kathryn Troutman, president of The Resume Place. “With unemployment still above 7 percent and federal employment continuing to shrink overall, it’s more critical than ever to meticulously match the federal resume to the USAJOBS announcement.”

July 2013 was a good news/bad news month for professionals seeking a job with the federal government, according to The Resume Place’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

First the bad news: Federal government employment stood at 2.74 million in July 2013, essentially unchanged from the month before and down by 59,000 from a year early, according to the BLS Employment Situation Summary released Aug. 2.

Now the good news: The vast bulk of federal separations (retirements, resignations, involuntary terminations, etc.) were balanced by hires, according to Resume Place analysis of the BLS’ latest JOLTs report, which was released in May. Although there were 37,000 federal employee separations in May 2013, there were also 29,000 federal hires. Moreover 64,000 federal jobs were reported open in the same month.

“These federal postings are the best jobs in the country,” says Kathryn Troutman, president of The Resume Place, which specializes in the preparation of federal resumes and coaching of candidates for plum government jobs. “People who really want a government job and have a specialized background can get the job, but the competition is great and the quality of the application must be superb.”

Given that the federal government continues to slowly shrink, why does Uncle Sam continue to hire tens of thousands of workers each month? A top reason is the age of the workforce and the tidal wave of retiring Baby Boomers that’s just gathering strength. There are staggering numbers of older workers on the federal payroll. According to The Resume Place’s analysis of Office of Personnel Management data, more than 558,000 federal employees are age 55 or older – the federal minimum retirement age – including 86,446 workers age 65 and up. With their retirement savings accounts recovering with 4 years of stock-market gains, many federal workers may decide to retire in the near future.

But competition for federal openings will be stiff among professionals who understand how well civil-service jobs compare with private-sector opportunities in terms of total compensation. The average full-time, corporate employee made $59,804 in salary or wages in 2011, according to an analysis by the Political Calculations web site. By contrast, the average federal employee made $74,436, nearly $15,000 more.

The average federal employee also enjoys fringe benefits of considerably greater value than her private-sector counterpart. Federal employees’ benefits are worth about $20 per hour worked, according to a 2012 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. The average private-sector worker’s benefits are worth considerably less: $14 per hour worked. In addition to generous retirement programs, federal benefits can include student loan repayment and health, dental, vision and life insurance.

Meanwhile, as the government payroll continues its decades-long trend of gradual downsizing, select agencies are increasing their headcount. For example, with the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services is growing. A recent search of USAJOBS revealed more than 450 job announcements for HHS, ranging from nurses to medical scientists to IT specialists. With each position mapped to a career ladder of GS grades, the potential for career advancement is transparent and is built into each position.

With federal employment offering all of these advantages plus superior job security, securing a government job is a demanding process. “With unemployment still above 7 percent and federal employment slowing shrinking overall, it’s more critical than ever to meticulously match the federal resume to the USAJOBS announcement,” says Troutman. “The Federal Resume Guidebook can help.”

Posted by Kathryn Troutman on Aug 06, 2013 at 4:02 PM


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