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Frequently Asked Questions USAJOBS

  • The following are general rules:
    • One can qualify for jobs at the GS-2 level with a high school diploma or as little as 3-months of general work experience. At GS-3 and GS-4 grade levels, more months of general experience is required. Starting at the GS-5 grade level, jobs generally require 1 year of specialized experience to qualify which may include specific job-related work experience, education, medical or physical standards, training, security, and/or licensure.
    • A degree but no specialized experience in a career field, makes one eligible for appointment at the GS-5 grade level. If you maintained at least a B average; were in the upper third of your college, university or major subdivision; or are a member of a national scholastic honor society recognized by the Association of College Honors Societies, you can start out at the GS-7 grade level.)
    • To qualify for jobs at the GS-7 and higher grade levels, background must include experience closely related to the work to be performed in the job for which you are applying.
    • One can qualify for GS-9 positions on the basis of a master’s degree, and for GS-11 positions on the basis of a doctorate.
    For more information on Qualifications, please visit http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/
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  •   Time in grade is a requirement for a specified amount of time that an employee must spend in a grade before they are eligible for promotion (5 CFR 300.604).  
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  • A Federal agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other factor that is not related to job performance. Discrimination on these bases is prohibited by one or more of the following statutes: 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(1), (b)(10); 29 U.S.C. 206(d); 29 U.S.C. 633a; 29 U.S.C. 791; and 42 U.S.C. 200e-16. If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability, you must contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action, or, in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of the action, before you can file a formal complaint of discrimination with your agency. See, e.g. 29 CFR 1614. If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, you must either contact an EEO counselor as noted above or give notice of intent to sue to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action. For further information, check the EEOC's website at www.eeoc.gov. If you are alleging discrimination based on marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other factor that is not related to job performance, you may file a written complaint with the United States Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov). In the alternative, you may pursue a discrimination complaint by filing a grievance through your agency's administrative or negotiated grievance procedures, if such procedures apply and are available.
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  • Individuals, who previously held a career or career-conditional appointment with the Federal government, may be eligible for reinstatement, which allows reentry to the Federal competitive service workforce without competing with the public. Reinstatement eligibles can also apply for Federal jobs open only to status or merit promotion candidates. Eligibility Requirements There is no time limit on eligibility for those who:
    • Are Veterans' preference eligible and served one day as a career conditional employee, or
    • Acquired career tenure by completing three years of substantially continuous creditable career-conditional service.
    Non-veterans' preference eligibles who separated from civil service as a career-conditional employee may be reinstated within three years after the date of separation. Reinstatement eligibility may be extended by certain activities that occur during the three-year period after separation from your last career or career-conditional appointment, those activities include:
    • Federal employment under temporary, term, or similar appointments.
    • Federal employment in excepted, non-appropriated fund, or Senior Executive Service positions.
    • Federal employment in the legislative and judicial branches.
    • Active military duty terminated under honorable conditions.
    • Service with the District of Columbia Government prior to January 1, 1980 (and other service for certain employees converted to the District's independent merit system).
    • Certain government employment or full-time training that provided valuable training and experience for the job to be filled.
    • Periods of overseas residence as a dependent who followed a Federal military or civilian employee to an overseas post of duty.
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  • When you leave the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) you are granted a one-year period to be non-competitively appointed to a normally competitive Federal position. The hiring agency may extend the non-competitive eligibility period for 2 additional years to a total of 3 years if the individual, after the qualifying service, is in the military service; is studying at a recognized institution of higher learning; or has been involved in another activity which, in the agency's view, warrants an extension. This eligibility does not entitle volunteers to a Federal position. Upon completing service with the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps VISTA, you are provided a certification of non-competitive eligibility for Federal jobs. Former volunteers should note their Peace Corps or AmeriCorps VISTA service in their résumé and provide the Description of Service as an attachment.  
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  • A term appointment is an appointment lasting more than one year but less than four years, with a specific expiration date. Reasons for utilizing a term appointment include:
    • project work;
    • extraordinary workload;
    • scheduled abolishment of a position;
    • reorganization;
    • uncertainty of future funding;
    • contracting out of the function.
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  •   Wage Grade is the term used to describe non-supervisory Federal Wage System (FWS) employees. Wage Supervisors are supervisory FWS employees.  
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  • A temporary appointment is an appointment lasting one year or less, with a specific expiration date. An agency may make a temporary appointment to:
    • fill a short-term position that is not expected to last more than one year; or,
    • meet an employment need that is scheduled to be terminated within one or two years for reasons such as reorganization, abolishment, or the completion of a specific project or peak workload; or,
    • fill positions that involve intermittent (irregular) or seasonal (recurring annually) work schedules.
    A temporary employee's appointment may be terminated at any time and the employee is not eligible for promotion, reassignment, or transfer to other jobs.  
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  • Federal agencies may only employ United States citizens and nationals (residents of American Samoa and Swains Island) in the competitive service. However, Federal agencies may request OPM approval to appoint a non-citizen, if no qualified U.S. citizens are available. An agency may hire a qualified non-citizen into the Excepted Service or Senior Executive Service , if it is permitted to do so by the annual Appropriations Act and the immigration law and the agency’s specific laws and internal policies. For additional information on Appropriations Act restrictions and immigration law as it pertains to Federal employment, please view the Fact Sheet on the Employment of non-citizens.
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  • When a veteran applies for veterans’ preference, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can produce an official letter certifying the information that is requested if the letter needs to indicate that service-connected disability is required. The preference selected (SF-15 Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference) determines what type of certification letter is needed. To obtain a veteran's preference letter from the VA, you should contact your local VA Regional Office at 1-800-827-1000 or contact them by visiting their website: http://www.va.gov.  
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