This post is for future MIS interns or, really, anyone trying to get a job in the federal government.  Because anyone in the federal government will tell you that trying to get a job there is very different from trying to get a job anywhere else.  I still have not actually done it myself, but I’ve had enough time working adjacent to the federal government to see the inner mechanisms closer than the average person.  Of course, part of the MIS program is mentorship in this particular area. 

So, first thing is first.  Your resume.  The one that you probably used or will use to apply for MIS is going to be very, very different from the one you’ll upload to USAJobs.  The one I uploaded when I applied for the MIS program was one page long, like the one that I sent to other institutions when I applied for summer internships.  One page, with a few jobs, internships, or volunteer experience with a very brief description of what I did there. 

Your federal resume should be so different.  Mine is eight pages long, and should probably be nine honestly.  I have just about every job or volunteer work I’ve ever done since I was 15 on it.  And on your standard, one-page resume, you have to be selective about what you put as far as what you did for different jobs. Your federal resume should include everything you ever did at a job, even if it was one time. 

Now, why the details?  Why are these resumes so much longer than others?  When you first apply for any job on USAJobs, you’ll rank yourself on how capable you are at doing something.  So it may ask about your experience entering data into a database.  You’ll have a few options, from something like “I have received no training on this” to something like “I am an expert at this and coworkers come to me when it needs to be done.”  The initial filtering is done by a computer.  If you have too many “I have received no training on this,” your resume is never seen by a real human person.  If you make it past the first filter though, it gets sent to a person in HR.  This person’s job is go through the people who made it past the filter and compare their resume to their answers.  This is the really important part.  This person can make absolutely no assumptions about what sort of skills or experience you have.  So let’s say you once did a job as a biotech that required you to input data using Excel.  This must absolutely be listed on your resume.  If you do not include it, but answered that you “are an expert,” the hiring manager will say that your resume does not demonstrate that you have the required experience, even though you do.  Then, your application will not make it through this next filter.  If it does, this is where you start interviewing and can really strut your stuff.

One final note about applying for federal jobs.  It takes a long time for positions to get filled.  Much longer than you may be used to.  So don’t get discouraged! USAJobs, for all the faults of the federal hiring process, is an easy website to navigate and makes finding the job you want a piece of cake. So keep applying and good luck!

PS if you have any questions about this post or anything else feel free to email me at [email protected]

The photo is of me collecting pollen samples somewhere on the top of Capulin.


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