Applying For Federal Jobs

Finding Federal Jobs / Agency Jobs

Federal Employee's Career Development Center

Thousands of federal jobs are advertised on any given day and they are just a few key strokes away if you know where to find them. With the growth in government and 50 percent of the federal work force eligible for either early or regular retirement, there are abundant opportunities for all who seek them out. Our Federal Jobs Search feature geographically targets your search results so that jobs in your area come up first on the list in all categories plus we list federal, state government, and private sector jobs.

This section describes the Merit Promotion Program (MPP) process, Internal Placement Program (IPP), Voluntary Applications, hardship requests, details and temporary promotions, and career development programs that your agency may offer. It will also help you locate job announcements to bid on for your targeted position.

There are numerous avenues to find the ideal job. A little research can uncover a number of worthwhile job announcements for you to explore. If you targeted a promotion you can review the 2021 GS Pay Scales to determine the salary range for the occupational series.

Merit Promotion Program (MPP) Job Announcements

The Merit Promotion Program (MPP) is designed to allow those who are status applicants (current federal employees or those who have reinstatement eligibility) to bid on job openings. MPP announcements are posted at most offices and on the internet.

Agencies can restrict MPP announcements to applicants from their agency and many limit the geographical area of consideration. Now that you have an IDP developed and a target position in mind, look for open MPP announcements. If you are well along in your IDP and have the required KSAs to meet the basic qualifications for your target job (goal) you may want to bid on these jobs if they are in the area you desire.

Each job series has an entry level grade and job announcements often advertise career ladder positions with promotion potential to a specified grade. For example, Human Resources (HR) can advertise the position at the GS-343-9 grade, GS-343-7/9 or as a GS-343-5/7/9 grade. If the unit needs someone fully qualified in the position immediately they advertise it at the top of the ladder, in this example the GS-343-9 grade. However, if a supervisor has a promising employee with an IDP targeted to that position she can request that HR advertise it at lower grades with promotion potential to the top of the career ladder for that position. The person selected will be hired at the grade that they are rated qualified. For example, if the applicant can only meet the GS-5 entry level standards they will automatically be promoted to the GS-343-7 after one year of successful performance. A year from the date of their GS-7 promotion they will be eligible for the top ladder position, the GS-343-9, with satisfactory performance.

This is just one more reason to develop a close relationship with your supervisor and this further stresses the importance of the IDP supervisor/employee meetings. You may also find through your networking contacts that jobs are available at other desirable locations. Use the networking contacts that you identified on your Work Experience Profile assessments. The more contacts that you make the better and you need to build on each new contact. Expand your contact list and be sure to write down their name, phone number, organization, and in the comments area note the date of contact and other relevant information. Use the following contact list to list your new contacts as they develop.

Locate MPP announcements within your agency or department first. Ask your supervisor, Administrative Officer or call the HR office for a list of open MPP announcements. There is generally an intranet web site within each agency where you will find MPP announcements posted. When you review your offices central MPP listings you will notice that other agency announcements may be posted with your agency’s internal advertisements. When agencies advertise vacancies they often open the announcement to all federal employees in the commuting area or area of consideration.

Internal Placement Program (IPP)

Employees may, under certain conditions, request reassignment from one organization or geographic location to another. This is a considerable benefit to the employee and it can also benefit the agency as well. If you desire to transfer to a larger office, that has more developmental and career advancement opportunities, or to relocate to a more desirable area, use the IPP process. Every Department has their own internal program however they all follow similar guidelines as outlined here. The name of an agency IPP program may differ but the process is similar.

Consideration shall be given to IPP requests according to the needs of the Agency. This means that if you are in a critical job and the position you now occupy is understaffed, you may have to wait until staffing improves at that location before the agency will consider your request. The location you choose must also have positions available or projected vacancies in the job series and grade that you request consideration for. It’s also important to realize that the government may not fund your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move since the move will be at your personal request. However, the agency may fund the PCS if funds are available and if the move is determined to be beneficial to the government.

Career and career-conditional employees located in the continental United States may request reassignment at any time to any other Agency position for which they are qualified. Employees occupying excepted positions may request reassignment only to other excepted positions, unless they are eligible to apply for positions in the competitive service because of having previously acquired civil service status.

Employee Requests

Requests must generally be by letter to your immediate supervisor along with an updated application, include a copy of your training history. You must specify the location and the series and grade of the desired position. A separate request is required for each location that you are considering.

Your immediate supervisor will review the request and if you have all of the documentation he will forward it to the next management level with his recommendation. The supervisor’s letter must include the impact that your reassignment would potentially have on your assigned unit.

Internal IPP Requests

Your organizational unit (an area office, systems management office, or district office) may include a number of field offices located throughout a large geographic area. If you wish to initiate an Internal Placement Program (IPP) request to another location within the same organizational unit you must submit your written request through your immediate supervisor to your organizational unit’s manager (area office, systems management office, or district office manager). Consideration shall be given in accordance with the reassignment practices of the program area involved.

Processing Requests

If the employee meets all regulatory and administrative requirements for reassignment, the servicing personnel office shall forward the application, together with recommendations and performance, conduct and service information, to the personnel office of the employing jurisdiction to which the employee has applied. If the employee does not meet the requirements, the application shall be returned to the employee with a statement of reasons for not forwarding his application.

The receiving office shall consider the employee for existing or anticipated vacancies. If an employee is selected, the receiving personnel office shall negotiate directly with the releasing personnel office concerning the reassignment. If no vacancy exists at the time the request is received, the federal resume and cover letter may be returned to the employee through his personnel office, or it may be retained for consideration in filling future vacancies depending upon the potential opportunities for placement.

Both losing and gaining organizations must approve the request. If your current organization can’t release you for whatever reasons your IPP request is not forwarded to the targeted gaining organization and your application is returned to you with an explanation as to why they could not support your request at this time

Voluntary Applications

Voluntary applications allow you to bid (apply) for job vacancies that are advertised with restricted areas of consideration even if you are not currently duty stationed in that area. Most job vacancies are advertised as commuting area only or in a defined areas such as the an Area or Regional Office’s geographic boundaries. If you are not currently duty stationed within the designated area you can’t apply unless you submit a voluntary application.

Typically you must have a voluntary application on file with the Personnel office that is advertising the job prior to the opening date of the announcement to be considered. Check with your Human Resource department for your agency’s internal voluntary application procedures.

Hardship Transfers

Hardship transfers can be requested by employees that are experiencing personal problems at their current duty station. There are many reasons that people request hardship transfers; to care for sick parents; lack of medical facilities at your location for specific treatments for you or your family members; to get closer to your children after a divorce when your ex spouse has custody; and any number of other reasons that create an undue hardship on you or your family.

The procedure is similar to the IPP process except that you must describe the hardship in your cover letter. Prepare a cover letter requesting the hardship transfer along with an application (federal resume) and give it to your immediate supervisor. Include the desired duty location in the cover letter, job series and grade of the position at the new location, and a copy of your training history. Your supervisor will forward it to the next level of management with his/ her recommendation.

There must be a position available or an anticipated vacancy at the new location for the request to be considered. Check with your Human Resource department for your agency’s hardship transfer procedures. Each agency has written policies that describe the process in detail.

Details and Temporary Promotions

One of the best ways to gain insight and experience for a given position is to be temporarily detailed or promoted into the job. Details can last for an extended period of time but generally not to exceed one year. However, a detail or temporary promotion can be for as little as two weeks. Typically they are for periods lasting from 30 to 120 days. Details and temporary promotions require a personnel action, the SF-50. This becomes a permanent record in your Official Personnel file (OPF). Add these experiences to your application package when bidding on jobs.

During IDP meetings with your supervisor discuss the possibility for details and/or temporary promotions into jobs that support your IDP goals. List those options on your IDP as developmental assignments and establish tentative target dates or times with your supervisor.

A detail is a formal assignment different from the work assignment practices discussed in Chapter Five. Work assignment practices are developed by you and your supervisor for specific collateral tasks/duties that support your IDP. Details allow you core time to work on specific functional areas that develop KSAs needed to achieve your stated goals.

Temporary promotions may be available when employees are on extended details, maternity leave, extended sick leave, or on TDY for extended training. For example, If you are a GS-6 Secretary targeting a GS-343-9 Analyst position and the Analyst is on maternity leave your supervisor can temporarily promote someone into the position. If you have developed the KSAs and meet the GS-343-7 position’s minimum Qualification Standard you can be temporarily promoted into the ladder GS-343-7 position for a period of up to 120 days. The staffing specialist would have to amend the Organization Chart to include this developmental position prior to issuing the personnel action.

Locating Job Vacancy Announcements

Many agencies advertise their job announcements on USAJobs.gov and on their internal agency web sites. Expanded job listings are available for federal, state government, and private sector jobs on the Federal Jobs Career Center. To explore opportunities by agency review our listing of 141 federal agency web sites and resources.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) maintains the largest federal government online jobs data base at https://www.usajobs.gov and you can take advantage of their FREE online resume and automated job alert services.

Caution – Prepare your resume on your desktop FIRST, spell check and tailor it to the federal job opportunities announcement.  After making sure you included all of the required information and supporting work histories, etc., copy and paste it into the online resume builder. Otherwise, applicants then to rush through the online process leaving out key supporting information.

Job Announcement Listings