Transitioning from private sector to federal employment is a popular topic amongst modern job seekers. This post offers a high-level overview of things to consider when transitioning from private sector to federal employment.

Related: Government Professional Associations

Making the switch from private sector to federal employment is a competitive process. Federal employees enjoy myriad benefits including generous health and retirement benefits, good job security, and competitive pay.

Here are some high-level tips to consider when seeking to shift into federal employment.

Find a Good Landing Spot

The US federal government employs approximately 2-3 million Americans across multiple departments and agencies. When targeting federal jobs, you should be assessing your private sector experience and trying to find the best landing spots within government. Here is a helpful breakdown of Gov’t Departments and Agencies.

Know Your GS-level

GS-level is the predominant pay scale used for paying federal employees. Federal agencies assign a grade to each job announcement (GS-1 to GS-15) reflecting the level of difficulty, responsibility, and qualifications required. Accurately approximating your GS-level is key when transitioning from private sector to federal employment.

Take Advantage of Veterans’ Preference

The US federal government offers favorable competitive positioning for US Armed Forces Veterans. This special form of recognition is reserved for honorably discharged veterans from the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. Here is a full rundown on how Veterans’ Preference works.

Leverage Noncompetitive Eligibility (NCE)

Acquiring NCE puts you at a competitive advantage for landing a federal job. Somewhat similar to Veteran’s Preference as described above, NCE allows US federal government agencies to hire eligible exchange program alumni outside the formal process. Here is a breakdown on how noncompetitive eligibility works.

Build Your Federal Resume

Searching and applying to federal job opportunities on USAJobs comes with special requirements. Your private sector Resume will not work well for applying to federal jobs. If you want to apply to federal jobs, it requires building a Federal Resume. Here is a high-level breakdown of what to include on your Federal Resume.

Give it Plenty of Time

Transitioning from private sector to federal employment is time-consuming and offers no assurance of success. You should allow yourself a bare minimum of six months worth of lead time from when you start searching and applying to federal jobs. The federal hiring process is notoriously slow and full of bureaucracy.

Dispel the Myths

Much confusion abounds concerning the process of working for the federal government. If you’re seriously considering targeting federal employment, it’s important to set aside time to educate yourself. Checkout this article on federal hiring myths for valuable insight on some of the most prevalent federal employment myths.

In Conclusion

Shifting from private sector to government employment requires much consideration. What department or agency do you want to work for? What GS-level do you fall into? Are you qualified for special preference? How long does the process take? These are some of the many questions this article aims to shed some light on.

Ready to start your federal job search? JobStars builds USAJobs-compliant Federal Resumes for professionals of all GS-levels. Send a contact us message to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.