Are you new to Federal hiring and employment? Reviewing the sections below provides a better understanding of the types of civilian employment available and the hiring process.
New Candidate Hiring Process
DOD Civilian Hiring Process
3. Prepare & Submit
5. Next Steps
Identify vacancies that interest you.
Explore the DOD Civilian Careers page or use the interactive career-finder tool to find opportunities within DOD that may interest you and align with your career goals. All of our positions are posted on USAJOBS as well. Use the filter feature to search for any job requirements you may want to add (location, salary. etc.).
Review the details of the vacancy announcement.
The requirements of each vacancy announcement vary. Be sure to review each one carefully to ensure that your application is complete. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides more details Job Announcement on the specific elements of vacancy announcements, including eligibility and qualification requirements.
Prepare and submit your application.
Once you have determined that you are eligible and qualified for a position, it is time to submit your resume and application! Applying for Federal positions is significantly different from the process that is commonly used in the private sector. It is important to read the vacancy announcement closely to identify those skills and qualifications being asked for by the agency and any specific documentation requirements. Additionally, resumes for Federal positions need to include detailed information on applicants’ skills, education, training, and experience and should be tailored to address the specific job requirements outlined in the vacancy announcements. For more specific information and tips on preparing your application and resume, visit How to write a resume and What to include in a Federal resume.
Interview for the position.
Once all applications have been received, a Human Resources Specialist will review for eligibility and qualifications and then rate and rank the applications using the rating criteria outlined in the vacancy announcement (e.g., answers to the assessment questions). The applications that are rated highest qualified will be forwarded to the hiring manager for review and selection of any applicant(s) they desire to interview.
If selected, you will be contacted by a Human Resources Specialist who will extend a tentative job offer. This offer will be pending any security clearance requirements and/or any validation of additional information (e.g., education or credentials verification). Security clearance requirements vary by position as well as the amount of time it takes to complete an investigation. Please consult with the Human Resources Specialist and Personnel Security Specialist regarding the process, requirements, and timeframes.
Throughout the process, you may view the status of your application through your account in USAJOBS. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Human Resources Specialist identified in the vacancy announcement.
Eligibility and Qualifications
Once you have found a job that you are interested in applying to, the first step is to make sure that you’re eligible to apply for the position. The specific requirements for each job are outlined in the vacancy announcement. Some examples include citizenship, whether you are a current or former Federal employee or the type of hiring appointment that you are on. It is important to read these eligibility requirements carefully to see if you meet the requirements. If you do not, your application will not be reviewed any further. If do meet the requirements, you will move to the next step where a Human Resources Specialist will review your application to see if you meet the minimum qualifications required for the position.
Each job that is posted has unique qualification requirements. These requirements are based upon multiple factors such as basic standards set by the OPM, educational or licensure requirements, and specialized experience that is required for that specific job. All of these requirements are outlined in the Qualifications portion of the Requirements Section of the vacancy announcement. You must meet all qualification, educational, and licensing requirements as outlined in the vacancy announcement to proceed to the next step in evaluating your application. Be sure that your application includes pertinent information to validate your qualifications such as dates (month/year) of employment, titles, and duties of previous positions, or license/certification numbers. Also, remember that, in some instances, copies of documents (e.g., license or transcript) may be required to validate the qualification requirements.
Types of Hiring Appointments
1. Competitive Service Hiring
2. Excepted Service Hiring
3. Direct Hiring
4. Nonappropriated Fund
Competitive Service Hiring
Many positions in the competitive service are eligible to obtain career status (tenure) upon completion of three years of continuous service. There are some Agencies that have interchange agreements that allow their employees that are not in the competitive service to apply for positions that are in the competitive service at different Agencies. Additionally, some Foreign Service employees are also eligible to be appointed to competitive service positions.
Excepted Service Hiring
There are some positions within the Government that are excepted by law from the competitive service. As a result, these positions are also exempt from obtaining career status (tenure). Some initial appointments are done through the excepted service but are either required or have the option to be converted into the competitive service without the need to compete (i.e., advertise and apply) after certain requirements (e.g., two years of service) are met. Here are some examples of these types of appointments: Veterans Recruitment Authority (VRA), 30% or greater Disabled Veterans, Schedule A Disability, some student internships (detailed in the vacancy announcement), recent graduates, and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF).
Due to the criticality or difficulty in filling certain positions, some jobs have been granted authority to “direct hire.” Typically, this means a shorter hiring process as not all of the same regulations apply. There are several positions across the Federal Government where Agencies have the authority to direct hire. These include some Medical occupations, Information Technology (Information Security), some Acquisition positions, and some Veterinarians.
The Department of Defense has been granted the authority to hire for additional positions using direct hiring. As critical needs arise, these authorities are updated. Each vacancy announcement will detail if the position being advertised is using a direct-hire authority.
Nonappropriated Fund (NAF) positions are very similar to other Federal positions except that they are paid from a different funding source. As a result, the pay scales and employee benefits are also slightly different. NAF positions are similarly advertised as other positions on USAJOBS, where you must apply and meet qualification requirements. Each vacancy announcement will detail if the position is a NAF position and outline the requirements, salary, and benefits.
When applying for a position with the DOD, make sure to include all required documentation as outlined in the vacancy announcement. Most commonly requested documents include:
A resume that includes:
Dates (month/year) of previous position(s) held;
Full time or part-time status of the position(s);
Detailed duties performed in the position that demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities; and
Paid and unpaid positions
If applicable, transcripts and/or licensures and/or certifications
If applicable, any Veterans information (e.g., DD214)
Don't know where to start looking?
Use our interactive tool. It will help you find career paths based on your answers to our 5-question survey.