Applying to Government Positions

The information provided below is related specifically to applying for positions within the U.S. government. In addition to these tips, you should also view the Applying for Positions page.

Types of Jobs and Where They’re Posted

  • Federal Government Positions
    • The majority of internships and full-time positions are listed on USAJobs.gov, but some federal agencies only have to post on their website (see list of these agencies below in the Resources section).
  • State Government Positions
  • Contact Engineering Career Services to see if there is a contact available to which you can submit a direct application.

Details to Pay Attention to Before Applying

  • ‘Who May Apply’ Section: It is a strict policy that if you are not eligible to apply, your application will not be reviewed.
  • Minimum Requirements: You must meet the minimum requirements by the time the job closes. For example, if a job requires a B.S. degree and closes on April 1st, then you will need to have obtained a B.S. degree by April 1st.

Other Tips for Applying

  • There is no harm in turning in extra documents (those not required), but many times they will not be viewed.
  • Include transcripts for all degree levels
  • Be specific on which pay grades you are applying to. If a position is listed as a grade 6 or grade 7 and you indicate that 7 is the lowest grade you will consider, then you will NOT be screened for grade 6 at all.

Writing Your Resume for Government Positions

In addition to the resume tips found in Step 4 of the Student Guide to Employment, please follow the guidelines below when applying to government positions.

Tailor Your Resume to Each Position

  • The government uses scanning software to determine if you are qualified for a position. Here are some tips to make sure your resume is effective for these systems:
    • Keywords and skills from the job description MUST be mentioned in experiences (work, activities, etc.), NOT simply listed in a skills section. This is because they need to know how much time you spent doing these things.
    • Include specific dates (month and year) for all experiences. The government uses strict quantitative measures to determine the amount of experience you have.
    • For any work experiences, it is also very helpful to include the number of hours/week you worked.
  • The government does not have a page limitation for your resume unless specific instructions are included in the posting.

Important Information to Include in Your Resume

  • Qualifications (most important): Any qualifications mentioned in the job description should appear somewhere on your resume.
  • Duties: Government job descriptions often provide a list of duties. If you have done something relevant to one of the duties, your resume should include a corresponding skills-based work statement.  (Example: researched, analyzed, collaborated, etc.)
  • Skills and/or Experience Asked About on the Application Questionnaire: To screen applicants, a questionnaire is commonly part of the application process. Specific knowledge and skills inquired about on the questionnaire are clearly important to the employer, and for maximum benefit they should be highlighted on your resume when possible.
    • The information on this questionnaire must be corroborated by your resume. For example, it is not helpful to state that you are great at public speaking on the questionnaire, but then not include any experiences with public speaking on your resume.

Additional Resources Related to Government Positions