Give Yourself Multiple GIFTS: Money, Job Satisfaction, Better Retirement!

by | Career Strategy, Job Search


What if you could give yourself multiple gifts that have career-lasting effects with very little effort — pre-qualify yourself for a federal job so you can make more money, have job satisfaction, and a better retirement! This article is one you’ll want to save and refer to often. Read on to discover why.

Do you believe that the best way to get your “foot in the door” is to apply for and accept a federal position that is rated lower than what you are qualified for? If so, you’re not alone. Many of our clients thought the same thing.

Bad advice for Josie…

Our client, Josie, listened to that bad advice and was told to apply at a General Schedule (GS)-7 level. At the time, she was thrilled to be hired and thought she would move up quickly. She went to work in that same job for more than 10 years—even though she ended up hating it for 8 of those 10 years. She kept going to work every day and collecting a paycheck that was nowhere near the value she was really qualified for. Josie was stuck…and felt like she was at a dead end.

And she was MISERABLE…as a result, her family was ALSO miserable! Why?

Because she and so many others make the big and very expensive mistake of applying to the wrong level jobs then they are stuck for years in that job trying to catch up to the level they are most qualified for…and typically, they never do. It’s like climbing straight uphill with no end in sight.

Are you listening to the same bad advice?

Why shoot for the mud when you could be shooting for the stars?!

When Josie found us, she was frustrated, burned out, and couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t get promoted. We assessed her résumé and her situation then showed her how to pre-qualify herself for a GS-11 position using our innovative and highly effective Qual-Fit Tool™! And in this process, she discovered she would have qualified for that position nearly 10 years prior. I felt so bad for her!

Sadly, her resume did not reflect her qualifications at the GS-11 level. So, the hiring officials never knew that she was qualified at a higher level, in this case a GS-11. Although Josie was a stellar public servant, she literally wasted 10 years in the wrong position! Think of all the money she could have been making at a GS-11 versus a GS-7—for 10 years! And think of the retirement that could have been compounding over that 10-year period!

Why it matters to pre-qualify yourself for a federal job…

Taking the time to pre-qualify yourself is the first thing you should do before you ever begin writing your federal resume.

When you pre-qualify yourself, you are giving yourself the BEST GIFTS. The gift of time, a better salary, future promotions, and a good retirement.

  • Give yourself the gift of TIME.

Your time is valuable! When you pre-qualify yourself, you won’t waste time applying to job announcements in which you will not qualify at the highest level. Only about the top 1% make the interview list, so this very worthwhile.

  • Give yourself the gift of a HIGHER SALARY.

The grade level and step associated with the job to which you apply, and ultimately get hired, dictate your pay scale. The higher the grade and step, the higher your salary.

  • Give yourself the gift of FUTURE federal job promotions.

It is smart to get hired at the level you are most qualified for because that sets the foundation and your base salary for your future promotions. In rare cases, it is possible to get promoted a couple or few steps higher once you are working in Federal Government, but it’s MUCH easier if you do it right with your first job. However, if you are currently working in Federal Government, there are numerous ways to strategically achieve that promotion.

  • Give yourself the gift of a great RETIREMENT and PENSION!

Another reason to ensure you are applying at the right level is that it will affect your retirement. After working five years with the Federal Government, you may become eligible for a FERS Federal Pension, and for every year you work, you will be eligible for at least 1% of your High-3 Average Salary History.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that the higher your salary is when you step into a new position, the higher your overall average becomes, and the more your pension will be!

This means the financial impact of applying and getting hired at the highest level possible has an exponential effect for your future financial well-being.


And now… HOW do you pre-qualify yourself for a federal job?

Now that we’ve established why it matters… how do you ensure that you qualify for the highest possible level that you’re qualified for, whether it’s a GS, Wage Grade (WG), or Senior Executive (SES) position?

One way to ensure you are a good fit for the job is to review the job announcement in its entirety. Pay close attention to the Qualifications tab and make sure your knowledge, skills, education, experience, and accomplishments meet the criteria.

I recommend that you copy the job announcement into a Word document and highlight every requirement. Take the time to list how your knowledge, skills, education, and accomplishments match up with the requirements. If it’s a far stretch, the job is probably not a great fit. If it’s not a stretch, begin writing accomplishments that match the requirements. Then, incorporate them into your federal résumé.

How the qualifying process for federal jobs differs from private sector jobs….

While the application and qualifying process for federal jobs may be similar to that of private sector jobs, there are many differences in how you should present your skills, education, experience, and accomplishments to ensure you qualify at the highest level. Laws, executive orders, and regulations also play a factor when it comes to federal employment.

Luckily, federal job announcements outline key qualifications, including Key Requirements such as citizenship, clearance levels, drug testing, residency, and time-in-grade. It also states Qualification Requirements which are generally minimum requirements to perform work of a certain occupation safely and successfully. Additional qualifications are used to determine an applicant’s eligibility and to rank applicants.

For example, the Qualification Requirements could include:

  • Job-related work experience
  • Education
  • Medical or physical standards
  • Training
  • Security
  • Licensure

Other sections or categories you might see on federal job announcements include:

  • General Experience

Your experience and education provide knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that may be useful in demonstrating your abilities to perform the duties of the position.

  • Specialized Experience

This one is super important and you’ll want to pay close attention to this section because specialized experience is scrutinized heavily when human resources scores your résumé. Specialized experience is specialized experience that has equipped the candidate with the particular knowledge, skills, abilities, and other qualifications to perform the duties of the position. Be sure that you address every aspect of the specialized experience section on page 1 and throughout your résumé.

  • Education

Applicants can qualify for some jobs based solely on education rather than experience. Some jobs require both education and experience in order to qualify. For other jobs, applicants can qualify for the position based on a combination of both experience and education.

  • Additional Qualifications

The additional qualifications describe further qualifications for the job. These additional criteria are used to determine an applicant’s eligibility for the position and to rank applicants.

  • Selective Placement Factors

Selective Placement Factors are job-related KSAs that are vital for satisfactory performance on the job. Only applicants that meet this requirement as of the closing date of the job announcement, or within a specified time period as stated in the job announcement, will receive further consideration for the job.

  • Quality Ranking Factors

Quality Ranking Factors are job-related KSAs and competencies that could greatly enhance performance in the position, but they are not essential for satisfactory performance on the job.

Be sure to describe your duties and accomplishments in a way that showcases your accomplishments and demonstrates how you are qualified. I recommend that you read, re-read, and study the job announcement. Think about each of your past jobs and volunteer service experiences and consider how you can align your work history to match the qualifications listed.

There are six gatekeepers your résumé must speak to and not all will be familiar with your background. You must clearly present how your experience and education matches the requirements for the position and help them connect the dots.


Are you unsure where to even start to pre-qualify yourself?

It can be a daunting process, but if you are going to work in Federal Government, there is no better time to learn. The classification of federal jobs can vary, depending on the agency, but most use the General Schedule.

In most cases, Federal employees must be U.S. citizens. The Federal Government hires those with nearly every level of education. For some job announcements, education is not a requirement. All experience is highly valued in Federal Government.

General Schedule Classifications.

Did you know that federal jobs that require zero experience or education are graded a GS-1?

And jobs that require a bachelor’s degree, but no experience, are generally a GS-5 or GS-7 level—depending on a candidate’s academic credentials, as well as the agency’s policies.

College degrees matter when it comes to qualifying you for a particular grade level IF the degree is directly related to the job you are applying for. Sometimes the job will require general college skills. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree in any subject will be sufficient. However, other jobs will require a specific major, such as a degree in Nursing.

Take time to pre-qualify yourself for the job announcements that you want to apply to. It’s one of the best strategies. We value it so much that we packaged our exact process into our highly valuable Qual-Fit Tool™—and our clients feel it is absolutely priceless!

In the spirit of giving, we’ve created a new public Facebook group aside from our paid members-only groups. For a limited time, you can come “Ask The Experts” questions about your federal resume and the federal hiring process…absolutely f*ree!

Join our Facebook group today! We can’t wait to help you land YOUR dream job!


Camille Roberts
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