Applying for U.S. Government Jobs

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Projecting to hire 193,000 new employees over the next two years, the U.S. government is a great place to look for a great career.

The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States, with almost 2 million civilian workers. About 1.6 million are full-time permanent employees. Contrary to popular belief, five of six federal employees work outside the Washington, D.C. area, in locations across the U.S. and even abroad. Federal employees work in 15 cabinet-level agencies; 20 large, independent agencies and 80 smaller agencies.

When you apply for a job in federal government, there are some specific instructions you need to follow in order to give your application best chance of winning an interview:

Applying for a Government Job

The best and easiest way to find and apply for government jobs is now online through the website, the federal government’s official employment portal. Applying for jobs on is a six-step process:

  1. Create a USAJOBS account: You will first need to create a personal account on USAJOBS. is service that offers safe, secure, and private online access to a wide range of government programs, such as federal benefits, services, and applications. A single account enables you to use the same username and password to sign into multiple government websites, including
  2. Create a USAJOBS profile: A USAJOBS account and profile allows you to save jobs you are interested in, save and automate job searches, and manage the forms and other documents needed to complete job applications.
  3. Search for jobs: Be sure to sign in to your USAJOBS account before doing a job search. USAJOBS uses your profile information to better mold your job search results to your needs. In addition, you can use filters such as location, salary, work schedule or agency to narrow your results.
  4. Review Job Announcements: Each job announcement includes qualifications and eligibility requirements you must meet and include in your application. Since these qualifications and eligibility requirements may differ from job-to-job and agency-to-agency, it is important to read the job announcement completely and carefully.
  5. Prepare your application in USAJOBS: Each job announcement will include a “How to Apply” section you should read before starting the application process. To start your application, click “Apply” in the job announcement and USAJOBS will guide through the process during which you’ll attach your resume and any required documents. As you work through the application process you can review, edit, delete and update your information. USAJOBS automatically saves your work as you go.
  6. Submit your application to the agency: When your application is finished, USAJOBS sends it to the agency’s application system where can submit your application. The agency may ask you to complete other agency-specific steps such as filling out an online questionnaire or uploading additional documents. Once your application has been submitted, you can check its status anytime by accessing your USAJOBS account.

If You Have a Disability 

Persons with disabilities can learn about alternate methods of applying for federal jobs by calling the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) at 703-724-1850. If you have a hearing disability, call TDD 978-461-8404. Both lines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Selective Service Requirement

If you are a male over age 18 who was born after December 31, 1959, you must have registered with the Selective Service System (or have an exemption) to be eligible for a federal job.

What to Include with Your Application

Although the federal government does not require a standard application form for most jobs, they do need certain information to evaluate your qualifications and determine if you meet legal requirements for federal employment. If your resume or application does not provide all the information requested in the job vacancy announcement, you may lose consideration for the job. Help speed the selection process by keeping your resume or application brief and by sending only the requested material. Type or print clearly in dark ink.

In addition to specific information requested in the job vacancy announcement, your resume or application must contain:

  • The job announcement number, and title and grade(s) of the job you are applying for. All of this information will be listed in the job announcement.
  • Personal information:
    • Full name, mailing address (with ZIP Code) and day and evening phone numbers (with area code)
    • Social Security Number
    • Country of Citizenship (Most jobs require US citizenship.)
    • Veterans' preference information
    • Reinstatement eligibility (If requested, attach form SF 50)
    • Highest Federal civilian job grade held​ if any. (Also state job series and dates held.)
  • Education:
    • High School (School's name and address, date of diploma or GED)
    • Colleges or universities (School's name and address, Majors, Type and year of degrees, or credits and hours earned.)- Send a copy of your transcript only if the job announcement calls for it.
  • Work experience:
    • Supply the following information for your paid and non-paid work experience related to the job you are applying for:
      • Job title (include series and grade if federal job)
      • Duties and accomplishments
      • Employer's name and address
      • Supervisor's name and phone number
      • Starting and ending dates (month and year)
      • Hours worked per week
      • Highest salary earned
    • Indicate if the hiring agency may contact your current supervisor
  • Other Job-Related Qualifications
    • Job-related training courses (title and year)
    • Job-related skills, for example, other languages, computer software/hardware, tools, machinery, typing speed
    • Job-related certificates and licenses (current only)
    • Job-related honors, awards and special accomplishments, for example, publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards.
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Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "Applying for U.S. Government Jobs." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Longley, Robert. (2021, February 16). Applying for U.S. Government Jobs. Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "Applying for U.S. Government Jobs." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).