Get These 10 Ducks in a Row for the Imminent ALJ Announcement

Attention Aspiring ALJs:
The ALJ Exam is Opening Again, in 2017
Apply to Become an Immigration Judge, Too

There’s great news for experienced attorneys interested in becoming administrative law judges (ALJs): the next ALJ exam will reopen soon, according to OPM. Interested applicants should follow the news on OPM’s ALJ website.

Apply for the First Time or Try Again: If you’ve been rejected in the past for a non-compliant application, scores that were too low on one or more components, or a technical problem you just couldn’t solve, you can simply apply again. (If you have a pending appeal, OPM requires you to choose between the appeal process and reapplying.)

Meanwhile, why not apply to become an Immigration Judge? You can use the same resume, and the qualifications overlap. Announcements like this one (closing August 22, 2017) regularly appear.

Don’t wait for the 2017 ALJ job announcement to post (or the next IJ announcement) before you update your resume, prepare your qualifications narratives, or assemble other application materials. In each case, applications will be accepted for only a brief window.

Here’s how to get started.

  1. Right now, on, set up an email alert for a saved daily search on job series 0935, so you’ll see the announcement the day it’s published. Set aside preparation time for each of the steps outlined here. Plan to complete all advance preparation now. (If interested in becoming an IJ, which is an 0905 series position – as are all other federal attorney positions – set up your search for “Immigration Judge” or more broadly, for “EOIR” instead.)


  1. Study the ALJ position description from 2016 Click here. Read the announcement closely and make sure your resume reflects qualifying education, licensing, and work experience; and also evidences your knowledge, skills and abilities. (For aspiring IJs, study this one.)


  1. Develop accomplishment summaries to flesh out your four- to six-page federal resume. Use the CCAR Accomplishment Builder to develop narratives, then provide summaries in your resume.


  1. Next, build your resume online and also upload it as a PDF or Word document. If the new ALJ announcement requires specific additional content, you’ll be able to refine it quickly if you create an initial version now.


  1. To meet the qualifying experience requirements, follow the position requirements to the letter. For example, it’s not enough to say, “I was an attorney in a trial practice.” You must say how much time you devoted to qualifying litigation activities and describe those activities with specificity, giving the month and year for each experience.


  1. You MUST have a combined total of seven (7) years’ full time qualifying litigation and/or administrative law experience. You will be disqualified without the full complement of the right kind of work.


  1. Do be encouraged if you served in the military: Veterans’ preference applies. Ten-point preference eligibles can submit an ALJ application even after the announcement closes.


  1. Order a copy of the all-new, ALJ Writing Guide, 2nd Edition, and check out our 2017 ALJ webinar. Given multiple times over the upcoming weeks, this 90-minute webinar will support your preparation efforts.


  1. Consider further one-on-one support, via our ALJ resume writing, consulting and coaching services. We’re here to serve as your ongoing resource, not only for the initial application and exam preparation, but also in preparation for your Structured Interview.


  1. Check back here at The Resume Place for updated briefings on the 2017 ALJ announcement and examination process. The Office of Personnel Management is likely to issue a press release some weeks in advance of the actual job announcement on USAJOBS. As soon as we know more, we’ll keep you briefed.


Good luck, and keep in touch!

NEW! ALJ Writing Guide 2nd Edition

Available for Pre-Order or Download

The ALJ Writing Guide 2nd Edition is the best available resource for any attorney who would like to compete for a slot on the Administrative Law Judge register and ultimately be selected for an ALJ position.

The 2nd Edition of the

ALJ Writing Guide reviews the changes in ALJ hiring since 2009, including the innovative 2016 ALJ exam. It includes:

  • Sample federal resumes for ALJ candidates
  • Sample qualifying administrative law and litigation narratives
  • Definitions for all 13 competencies tested in 2016*

*OPM did not provide definitions in the 2016 announcement.

Order the 2nd Edition eBook now so you’re ready for the 2017 ALJ exam. ($49.95)


OR Join Our Webinar With Instructor:

Nicole Schultheis

Nicole Schultheis has helped hundreds of attorneys and other senior candidates compete successfully for federal positions. In addition to Administrative Law Judge candidates, she has helped aspiring Administrative Judges, Hearing Officers, Immigration Judges and Administrative Patent Judges. She has supported legal and law enforcement candidates at the Department of Justice, FBI, ICE, CBP, DHS, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Defense, as well as applicants to numerous agency Offices of General Counsel, Inspectors General, and Legislative Counsel offices.


Get Federal Resume Help!
Our FREE newsletter gives you awesome advice on writing your best federal resume and mastering the USAJOBS application.
Sign up now!