Episode 46: Getting Federal Job Results with Corliss Jackson


September 29th, 2020

51 mins 17 secs

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About this Episode

On this episode, we welcome to Corliss Jackson, the founder and CEO of Federal Job Results and author of Cracking the Federal Job Code. Corliss is a speaker and panelist, and her company mission it to help people find jobs with the US federal government.

Corliss started as a consultant after college; she decided that she wanted to work for the government but didn’t know how. She figured it out, and she learned a lot about what to do -- and what not to do in the process. She also realized that many other people would need help in figuring out the federal government application process. And so she started her firm, which focuses on helping people transfer into the federal sector.

Federal jobs are working for the US Department of Something-or-other. 85% of the jobs are outside of Washington DC, and there are regional and state agencies for each department. The most sought after skills are the same as you find in the corporate sector. There are positions in finance, healthcare, IT, project management, librarians…..It’s a great place to look for security, camaraderie, and if you want to be a part of a team.

One place to look is usajobs.com; there are 13,000 positions open across the US on a given day. Federal Government has to spend a certain amount on hiring, and now has extra money from Covid needs (healthcare, finance, HR….). The Small Business Admin has hired 6000 people nationwide over the last pandemic to help distribute Covid money.

What’s it like to land a Federal job? It’s VERY different from corporate. Corliss helps people understand the process and move their resume from a corporate sector resume (1-2 pages) to a Federal sector resume (5+ pages). She helps people understand what they need to show on their application package to be successful in the process. 90-95% of people who apply to Federal jobs get turned down because they don’t get through the process.

Sometimes people don’t know which jobs to apply for, so Corliss helps them to target the right choices and then tailor their resume for the right job. HR people in the Federal sector want to see how you respond to the Self Assessment questionnaire. You have to fill that out by bragging on yourself. Once you get through that filter, HR will scan your resume for the right keywords.

It takes 4-8 weeks to get through the resume review process. You then get put into three categories -- no, middle, or yes.

Sometimes your resume can get shared within an agency, but often you will need to apply to multiple roles. Sharing only happens within an agency and when you’re the best qualified.

We asked if it hurts you to not have Federal experience, and Corliss said that it’s good to bring your transferrable skills to the Federal government. Most roles and skillsets are not only Federal.

Once you have assembled a good Federal job seeker package, apply to as many Federal jobs as you can, so you get as many interviews as you can. Have a great package, know what you want to target, and then apply across the board.

Who should call Corliss? Someone who is open to coaching will do well. Corliss takes information and helps clients build a Federal resume retrofitting experience into what the agencies need to see. They coach people on what to do, and when and why to do it in order to successfully navigate the HR process.

Federal interviews are different, and Corliss helps you to navigate the interview process, answer questions well, and then negotiate salary and vacation time. You have to negotiate in a certain way, and many people leave 10-20k on the table because they don’t ask.

Hot skills in the Federal government: IT, security, contractor. Government loves certifications -- even more than degrees. It can take 2-18 months to land a Federal job. Interviewing takes a lot of time, but after you pass that, you go through an extensive background check to make sure you aren’t a threat to the federal government. They give you a tentative offer while they do the background check, and this takes at least 2 months. If you need a clearance, it takes a lot longer.

Most of Corliss’ clients land in 4-6 months because she helps them to avoid landmines. Corliss advises you not to leave you current job until you have a start date, and even then you need to be careful. You’re not a Federal employee until you take your oath of office.

During an administration shift, all jobs freeze at the beginning of a new President’s term, but there is always hiring going on for when the freeze is over. It’s stable once you get in.

Referrals are good in the Federal land, but you need to be on the Most Qualified list.

Read Corliss’s book, Cracking the Federal Job Code, and find her online at FederalJobResults.com.