I taught 9 classes in Bahrain to US Navy Sailors a few weeks ago. We discovered these 8 major problems and pitfalls with applying for a federal job online that popped up repeatedly. If you have other problems with the automated application systems, please write comments here, and I will forward your suggestions to our USAJOBS point of contact. I hope that with more communication, we can help them improve the application process.
1. Dealing with Difficult and Duplicative Profiles
Profile Questions in USAJOBS and Applicationmanager are complex and difficult to understand for job seekers. It was surprising to our first-time applicants that both systems require complex user names and passwords (which are shockingly not the same) and repetitive profile questions.
2. Hiring Eligibility: A Hidden Pitall
This is not clear in the profile form, but in the Profile section, be sure to check off “I am a current federal employee” if you are in the US military.
From the USAJOBS FAQ: “As veteran of the U.S. military, should I click “yes” in the “Applicant Eligibility” box even though I am not a current or former Federal employee? Yes. In general, if you are preference eligible or have served at least 3 years of continuous active duty in the Armed Forces, you should click “yes” in the “Applicant Eligibility” box. You may apply for jobs that are open to U.S. citizens as well as jobs that are open to current and former Federal employees.”
3. What type of work are you willing to accept?
Avoid this pitfall! In your profile, always check off at a minimum that you are interested in Permanent, Temporary and Term positions, and include any other types of positions that might be applicable. Don’t just limit yourself to permanent positions.
- Presidential Management Fellows
- Recent Graduates
4. Notification Settings
Notification alerts enable you to stay informed of changes to your application status. It is very important to track your applications after you hit the submit button, and many people don’t know how to utilize this convenient feature in USAJOBS. Be sure to turn these alerts on in order to get emails from OPM on the status of your applications:
- When jobs I have applied to have closed
- When jobs I have saved are scheduled to close in three days
- When the status of an application I’ve submitted changes
5. The Upload Problem! Recommendation: Use the Resume Builder Instead
You are able to upload and store five resumes to your USAJOBS account. But BEWARE! Uploaded resumes may not be accepted by some agencies’ online application processes, and it is still best practice to use the resume builder to create your federal resumes in USAJOBS.
6. &&& Problem
This is a very annoying problem. It takes a lot of time to find and delete every single & from Work Experience and Additional Information. I mean, what about Profit & Loss?
7. Double Work is Burdensome with Applicationmanager.gov!!
- Repeat of user name and password setup
- Repeat of Bibliographic Info
- Repeat of Profile Questions
- Repeat of Eligibility Questions
- Social Security Number Required – a surprise!
8. Personnel, Profile, and Job-Related Assessment Questions are Burdensome
Practice your application! I recommend that you actually apply for a position ahead of time, so you can get familiar with the questionnaire, profile, and document uploads. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that an application involved many more steps and time than you anticipated to complete it.
Write here with your worst USAJOBS application problems. Share the pain. Maybe change can occur, if OPM can listen to our problems!
– Kathryn Troutman, Federal Career Coach(r), Author, Federal Resume Guidebook and President, www.resume-place.com