Will USAJobs.Gov get you out of your college doors and into the workforce?
The answer depends on your needs and career aspirations, but this review will provide you with the information you need to know about the service before you invest your limited time and energy into searching through the long database of jobs.
What is USAJOBS?
If you’re interested in a career with the government – USAJOBS has you covered.
It’s the official employment site for the federal government, connecting job seekers to federal employment opportunities both nationally and globally.
Unlike other online job boards you may browse, USAJOBS is a specialized service – meaning you will only find job postings with federal agencies and organizations (this can be a good or bad thing, but more on that later).
Who is using it?
The site is used exclusively by federal agencies and organizations to hire graduates, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.
More than 500 federal agencies and organizations used the service in 2015 to post job announcements. This may not seem like much, but keep in mind the total number of open jobs were listed as 360,422.
As far as the users, the site claims to have 11,385,000 account holders to date. This is quite impressive, but something to remember is the majority of users are not college students or graduates – instead the website is used primarily by veterans.
How does it work?
The process begins by creating a USAJOBS account. Unlike other job boards that let you browse jobs and apply to gigs without having to create an account – USAJOBS is the opposite. You must register and build a profile before you can submit applications. This can be annoying and frustrating, especially if you are pressed for time.
Nonetheless, you must create an account so you can access the following:
After you create your free account, you can search for job announcements. You can use the search bar in a number of ways – keyword, job title, or agency.
The search bar is also very user-friendly, consisting of a variety of options you can use to narrow down your search according to relevance, salary, job title, location and more.
After your search is processed, you can review the numerous job announcements. The process is very convenient – you do not have to click on the job postings to get more information. Instead, it provides you with a brief summary of the posting and other relevant information (salary, part time/full time etc.) within the search results page.
Below is a screen shot of how the layout looks for a sample job posting. Notice how all the information is available for you on the same page. All you have to do is read and scroll through the various job announcements – this is a huge time saver.
Once you find a job meeting your needs, review the list of qualifications and see if you’re the right fit. Considering the jobs are with federal agencies – the list of qualifications can be quite long and specific (take note on what you meet and what you don’t, a good rule of thumb is to apply to positions where you meet at least 75% of the qualifications).
Each job comes with specific information on how to apply (keep in mind – the majority are time sensitive) and what you will be evaluated on. Make sure to give these tabs a read.
After you’ve read through the necessary information, click the apply button and you will be guided through a five step process which includes submitting your resume and other required documentation.
Something to take note of is USAJOBS is only used to fill out your application. Before you can submit your application, you will be guided to the agencies website. Once there, you may need to fill out additional information and upload more documentation.
After you complete the required steps – your application will be processed by the agency and reviewed shortly thereafter.
What jobs are offered?
The site claims to provide jobs from a wide variety of industries such as accounting, air navigation, oceanography, and podiatry. Although this is true – the types of jobs you find will vary according to your location.
After searching around my area, I found mostly finance and accounting positions with the Internal Revenue Service.
The majority of the key positions are located in the major US cities – it can be difficult finding a job meeting your skillset if you are from a small town.
After searching through forums and review boards, I found the majority of the reviews debating the quality of the service, and whether applicants experienced any success using the website.
Below are some of the most popular reviews (keep in mind majority of the reviews come from veterans – not college students or graduates):
As far as the success stories, some Quora users shared their experiences:
After reading through the full list of reviews, there seemed to be similar issues popping up every so often.
The 3 Major Issues with USAJobs.Gov…
Limited Diversity of jobs. USAJOBS is built for individuals seeking employment within the government. If this sounds like you – great. If not, you’re out of luck and will be much better off taking your hunt for employment somewhere else because you won’t find any jobs outside the government niche on this website.
Catered mostly towards veterans. Despite recognizing college students and graduates on their front page, many of the jobs available are better suited for veterans. This means you may spend a lot of time searching for jobs and applying, but the chances of you finding a job meeting your qualifications are slim. Worst – the chances of you getting a callback are even lower, but that’s just the way things are right now with the competitive job environment.
Lots of applicants, few job postings. Considering the small number of agencies signed up with the service compared to a large number of account holders – each job posting draws in a large number of applicants. This makes it extra difficult to stand out in the large pool of applicants.
Despite the three issues listed above, USAJobs.Gov does 3 things really well…
Superb advanced search capability. The advanced search options are fantastic, making the overall job seeking process very fast and efficient. You can narrow down your search by salary range, unique serial number, agency etc. – saving you valuable time and energy.
You can search for jobs on the go. The service offers apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android, allowing you to search for jobs around the clock (a great tool for long commutes)
Gives you a notice of your status. Unlike other job boards which simply forget you after you’ve applied – USAJOBS contacts you and informs you of your status. It tells you whether or not you met the agencies qualifications, and received a referral. This is a nice touch because it gives you peace of mind, knowing your application was received and the agency went through it and assessed your qualifications.
Would I recommend USAJobs.Gov?
If you are a college student or graduate who does not want a job within the federal government, USAJOBS is NOT the website for you. Save yourself some time and go check out the other job boards available – CollegeRecruiter, AfterCollege or Indeed are a few I recommend.
For those of you who are interested in a federal occupation, USAJOBS is a good beginners website to check out. Although it seems as if the success rate is quite low for college students and graduates – it doesn’t hurt familiarizing yourself with the required list of qualifications and the types of jobs available.
I would recommend searching for the jobs in your area, finding the right agencies for your skillset, attending local events put on by the government agency, and networking in hopes of making a solid connection with a federal employee. This may be one of the best strategies for standing out in today’s large and competitive marketplace for federal occupations.
If you’ve had any personal experiences using USAJobs, please tell us down below!