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Federal Government Jobs

With more than 4.5 million employees, 400 occupational specialties, and 100 agencies and bureaus, the federal government is the nation's largest employer.

Job seekers pursue federal employment for multiple reasons: making a difference in the lives of Americans; receiving competitive benefits and compensation packages; job security; or the ability to move around geographically and among agencies. U.S. citizenship is required for most federal jobs.

Explore Pathways programs and the Presidential Management Fellowship as ways to start your career with a federal agency.

Pathways Programs

Pathways Student Trainee Internships: Are part-time or full-time and are available in executive branch agencies across the federal government. The program offers paid work opportunities for current students in positions that may be related to their field of study.

Recent Graduates Program: The Recent Graduates Program provides one-year full-time jobs in a variety of fields with training opportunities. Candidates are eligible to participate in this program for up to two years after the completing their degree.

More information about Pathways can be found on USAJobs and on specific agency websites.

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF)

This is the federal government's most prestigious leadership development initiative. PMF offers recent graduates of advanced degree programs two-year fellowships with opportunities for management, training, and mentoring. Candidates are eligible to participate in this program for up to two years after the completion of their graduate degree.

The PMF candidate application process is run annually and is highly competitive. The AU Career Center makes an announcement regarding access to its comprehensive PMF preparation materials starting annually in mid-July. We recommend allotting part of your time for one to two months during the summer to prepare for the online assessment in September.

Job Search Strategies

USAJobs is the starting point for most job searches in the federal government. This website allows you to search for openings by occupation, location, pay grade, government agency, keyword, and other criteria. Sign up for email alerts to learn about new job and internship openings.

Excepted service agencies - such as the CIA and FBI - are not required to post positions on USAJobs. Job and internship seekers interested in these employers should visit the specific agency websites to see vacancies.

Application Advice

Applying for federal jobs is different from applying for private sector jobs.

Resumes for federal employment are unique. Review our guidance and template to start crafting yours today.

Most federal jobs will require you to complete a questionnaire as part of your application. These questionnaires range widely in length and ask questions related to the core set of qualifications that the agency seeks in a candidate. When possible, the Career Center suggests reviewing these questions and drafting answers in advance to allow adequate time to thoroughly consider your responses.

Your resume and questionnaire will be reviewed and a numerical score will be tabulated based on the information you provide in your application. Points are given for related education, experience, special skills, and awards. The maximum score for most candidates is 100, while honorably discharged veterans may qualify for a higher score and receive a significant preference in federal government hiring.

Only the top three candidates are generally invited to interview.

The federal job applications and candidate screening process is significantly slower than private employers. You can try checking the status of your application on your USAJobs profile or contacting the hiring manager three weeks after the closing date for an update.

Additional Resources

Go Government: Federal Employment Resource Website: A collection of resources to aid job and internship seekers. Use their Career Guides to find government jobs based on your interest and industry. 

Feds Hire Vets: Offers information on federal career opportunities and special hiring authorities for veterans.

Federal Hiring Authorities for Persons with Disabilities: Describes federal disability hiring programs for job and internship candidates.

Workforce Recruitment Program: Provides work opportunities in federal agencies for students with disabilities.