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Step 2 - Reading the Vacancy Announcement


You will be using the job search tool on www.usajobshelp.gov for your initial search.  The “Search Jobs” icon on USAJobsHELP is a direct link.
When you open a vacancy announcement on the www.usajobs.gov website, there is a lot of information you need to review. This is how to find out about the job that is being offered. However, the government terminology being used is often complicated and difficult to understand. They use acronyms that may not be familiar to you. Our intention is to teach you how to "translate" the Vacancy Announcement into understandable terms so you can decide if you are qualified for the job. Once this is determined, we will review the rest of the Vacancy Announcement for additional information about the job. So, we start with the section "Qualifications and Evaluations".

The best way to read anything written by government Human Resource Specialists, is to break it down comma to comma. The sentences are usually long, complicated, and they take 30 words to say what you can easily say with 5 words. You will look specifically for what you need to know to determine if you are qualified for the job. Start out by looking for 4 main headings:

Proficiency Requirement
Qualifying Experience
Specialized Experience
KSA's (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities)

If any of these headings are listed in the announcement, you need to determine if you have that experience and meet those requirements. Often, this information is listed by Grade Level. You can find the salary equivalents for each grade level on the usajobshelp website under "resources."

Let's take a look at the qualifications and evaluations section of a real vacancy announcement. I am going to highlight the parts that define the specific qualifications needed for the job. I have added notes next to any that need "translation" in red.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EVALUATIONS

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED:
GS-5: You qualify at the GS-5 grade level if you possess one (1) year of specialized experience, equivalent to at least the GS-4 grade level in the Federal government, which has equipped you with the skills needed to perform successfully the duties of the position. Examples include:

  • Entering information into a computer system;

  • Answering routine questions from other employees;

  • Distributing information to appropriate personnel.


GS-6: You qualify at the GS-6 grade level if you possess one (1) year of specialized experience, equivalent to at least the GS-5 grade level in the Federal government, which has equipped you with the skills needed to perform successfully the duties of the position. Examples include:

  • Assisting analysts with interpreting and analyzing data.  (Helping your supervisor compare incoming information with expected results.)
  • Assisting in the performance of ongoing reviews of documentation and verification of status.  (Helping the Supervisor read documents and make sure they are complete and accurate.)
  • Assisting in the development of methodologies and plans for system utilization activities.  (Helping plan and use tools and manuals to achieve results.)
  • Assisting in compilation of statistical information from automated resources to be used in past, current and future evaluations of data quality.  (Helping Supervisor using Microsoft Excel or other programs to compare information.)
GS-7: You qualify at the GS-7 grade level if you possess one (1) year of specialized experience, equivalent to at least the GS-6 grade level in the Federal government, which has equipped you with the skills necessary to perform successfully the duties of the position. Examples include:
  • Interpreting and analyzing data. (Comparing incoming information against what is expected)
  • Performing on-going reviews of documentation and verification of status. (Reading documents and making sure they are complete and accurate)
  • Developing methodologies and plans for system utilization activities with analysts. (Helping to plan and use tools and manuals to achieve results.)
  • Compiling statistical information from automated resources to be used in past, current and future evaluations of data quality. (Using Microsoft Excel or other programs to compare information so that others can decide if the quality of the data meets the requirements.)

EDUCATIONAL SUBSTITUTION:
GS-5: You may substitute 4 years of education above high school for the experience required at the GS-5 level. This education must have been obtained in an accredited business, secretarial or technical school, junior college, college or university. One year of full-time academic study is defined as 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or the equivalent in a college or university, or at least 20 hours of classroom instruction per week for approximately 36 weeks in a business, secretarial, or technical school.

Appropriate combinations of successfully completed post-high school education and experience also may be used to meet the total qualification requirements for the GS-5 grade level.

All requirements for this position must be met by 11:59pm (Eastern Time) on the closing date of this announcement (Wednesday, June 01, 2015).

You qualify for this position at the Grade 5 level if you have a Bachelors degree. You may also combine education and experience to meet the requirements.

HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED:
You will be evaluated for this position based upon information reflected in your resume. Your resume must support your responses to the job specific assessment questionnaire, level of education claimed, experience, and/or training. To remain in consideration for this position, please ensure your resume covers this requirement and that your application has been successfully submitted as part of your on-line application.

Creation of this package includes completing the online assessment questionnaire, uploading your resume, and uploading any required supporting documents.

After you highlight the qualifications required to apply for the position, you can decide if you have those qualifications. Look at the highlighted items, one by one, and ask yourself, have I done this. If you can answer yes to each of the requirements for Grade 4, you are qualified for Grade 5. If you can answer yes to each of the requirements for Grade 5, you are qualified for Grade 7, etc.

If you are qualified for the position, you will click on "Save Job." Once the job is saved, you can go back to your USAJobs.Gov account page and click on "Saved Jobs" when you are ready to apply for the job (as soon as possible!) Pay attention to the closing date. At 11:59 PM (Midnight) Eastern Time (9PM Pacific Time) the job will close and your application package will not be accepted. In fact, the job will no longer appear on the screen.

Once you have saved the jobs for which you are qualified you are ready for Step 3 – Specialized Experience. Click here to move on to Step 3.


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