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Federal/Government Careers

Are you interested in a government  career? Here are some tools and resources to help you search for positions and learn more about the application process with federal agencies. 

  • USAJobs lists most, but not all, federal jobs. Through this site you can learn about the types of positions found in the federal government, educational requirements, and specific duties.
  • The Partnership for Public Service provides an annual report about the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. The report also provides useful information about workplace demographics and employee experience. 

Opportunities in the Government 

Depending on where you are in your PhD/Postdoctoral training and career stage, you can pursue different opportunities listed below that best suit your professional interests. You can also check out their events page to learn more about upcoming events, including information sessions and webinars. 

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) 

ORISE connects the most talented and diverse college students, recent graduates, postdocs, and faculty to STEM internship and fellowship programs closely aligned with the interests of a variety of research facilities. 

Find opportunities via Zintellect, a searchable database of research and non-research internships and fellowships administered by ORISE. Opportunities listed on Zintellect aim to strengthen the scientific and technical workforce in areas of science, transfer knowledge and technology to the academic community, and support to the national commitment to science education.

The application process and requirements are specific to each opportunity, so check out the Zintellect website for deadlines and information. 

Presidential Management Fellowship 

Provides advanced degree candidates and graduates the opportunity to participate in the Federal government’s premier two-year leadership development program. Individuals must apply within two years of completing an advanced degree defined as a masters, professional (for example, law), or doctorate. PMFs are assigned a mentor, participate in professional development, and complete at least 160 hours of formal, interactive training, an Individual Development Plan, and at least one developmental, rotational assignment.

The PMF Program accepts applications annually. Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements apply in the Fall. Applicants only have two weeks to apply once the application opens. Potential applicants are encouraged to subscribe to the PMF newsletter to stay up to date on the deadlines. During the application process, you must complete two online assessments (the Fellows Behavioral Assessment Tool (FBAT) and the Fellows Situational Assessment Tool (FSAT)) and submit documents, including a resume and advanced degree transcript. Additional information about resumes and transcripts can be found under the Application Tips section.

Once the application closes, applicants will be reviewed for eligibility, complete applications, and assessment results. During this stage, called the Semi-Finalist stage, applicants will participate in a third assessment, called the Fellows Structured Interview (FSI). Semi-Finalists will be determined based on eligibility, completeness of application, and results from the Online Assessment stage.Similarly, those who complete the Semi-Finalist stage will be notified of their status following the completion of that stage. Top scoring applicants will be selected as Finalists. Finalists have 12 months of appointment eligibility to apply for an appointment as a Fellow with a participating Federal agency. Your two-year fellowship begins once you secure a PMF position with a participating Federal agency and are onboard.

National Labs

The National Laboratories conduct scientific research and development in areas related to energy and technology. The labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time -- from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe -- and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. They address large scale, complex research and development challenges with a multidisciplinary approach that places an emphasis on translating basic science to innovation. Check out their webpage to explore all 17 National Laboratories. Each lab will have their own opportunities. 

How to Search for a Job

USAJobs is the website that most federal agencies use to post job opportunities. Make an account with USAJobs to save your job searches, resumes, and apply for jobs. 

You can search for jobs by typing in a keyword or location into the search box located at the top of the home page. You can also click the search icon at the top of any page and the search bar will appear. Search by job title, department, agency, job series, or other keyword. You can also search for jobs by entering a country, state, city, zip code or remote in the location search box.

USAJobs Search Bar

On the search results page, you can filter your results using multiple criteria, including: hiring path (denotes which jobs are open to the public), pay, department, agency, location and radius, remote jobs, work schedule (full-time, part-time), appointment type (permanent, student, temporary), security clearance, and travel percentage.


Understanding the Job Announcement

Once you find a job you're interested in, read the entire job announcement and pay the close attention to the:

  • This job is open to and Who may apply sections to see if you're eligible for the job.
  • Duties and Qualifications section to learn what skills and experience you need for the job.
  • How to Apply section to learn about agency specific instructions, required documents, and contact information.
  • How You Will be Evaluated section to understand the agency’s competencies and assessments. 
Job Advertisement

Make sure you have the required experience and/or education before you apply. Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and the required qualifications, including:

  • Level and amount of experience
  • Education
  • Training

Formatting a Federal Resume

Federal resume has its unique format and requirements, and can be very different from an industry-focused resume, or an academic CV. 

Include important contact information

Don't forget to add current contact information. Most job applications require this information:

  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone number

Include dates, hours, level of experience and examples for each work experience

For each work experience you list, make sure you include:

  • Start and end dates (including the month and year).
  • The number of hours you worked per week.
  • The level and amount of experience—for instance, whether you served as a project manager or a team member helps to illustrate your level of experience.
  • Examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments that prove you can perform the tasks at the level required for the job as stated in the job announcement. Your experience needs to address every required qualification.
  • Don't limit yourself to only including paid work experience. Include relevant volunteer work or community organizations roles that demonstrate your ability to do the job.


Program Analyst GS-343-11
January 2009—Present
40 Hours/Week

  • Experience/Accomplishment
  • Experience/Accomplishment

Federal Job Application Process

If you are interested in federal jobs, check out this recorded workshop and handout to learn more about best practices so you can better navigate:

  • USAJOBS: the platform, resources, setting up your profiles
  • Federal resume: learn how expectations vary from the private sector and leverage the resume builder

Speaker: Hardeep Chowdhary, MBA: Coordinator, Career Services and Alumni Relations at UMD School of Public Policy


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