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Gleaning Information from OPM.GOV Learn How to Pre-Qualify Yourself for a Federal Position

By Diane Hudson Burns

The Office of Personnel Management's website (opm.gov) is a database full of information for federal job seekers, federal employees, and the general public. The OPM promotes the ideals of public service, advocates for innovative human resources practices, attracts and develops the best people for Federal service, and encourages professional development and recognition opportunities.

The United States Office of Personnel Management recruits, hires, and sets benefits policies for 1.9 million Federal civilian employees. Currently, OPM is working to fulfill President Obama's charge to "make government cool again" by developing flexible, results-oriented HR policies and working to change how Americans view their public servants. The Director's goal is to "build a workforce of dynamic innovators who put serving the American people at the heart of everything they do."

OPM Home Page
The OPM Home Page provides links for federal job seekers, veterans, federal employees, retirees and families, HR practitioners and agencies, and news, press releases and events. For federal job seekers, the OPM site links to USAJOBS, where many of the federal vacancy announcements are posted, and where a federal job seeker can open a USAJOBS account and create a federally formatted resume. There are also links for students and scholarship opportunities.

Featured Sites
The Featured Sites links include information on news and events including issues facing the nation like H1N1 flu; specific information about OPM; veterans information, and links for retirement, health benefits, and Recovery Jobs.

Salaries and Wages Link
My favorite links, include the "Salaries and Wages" link that takes you to the current and previous years' wage tables for General Schedule (GS) employees including locality pay rates; Senior Executive Service, Administrative Law Judges, Special Rate Tables, and information on Pay Adjustments. The Salaries and Wages page also links to reports to Congress regarding federal pay and leave and other issues.

Federal Qualifications (http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/)
To help understand the minimum qualifications for federal jobs, click on subject index (top bar on the home page), click on letter "Q" and move to Qualifications / Federal Classification and Job Grading Systems (http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/index.asp). Once on this page, you can easily navigate federal position classification standards for the jobs classified under federal occupational series. Each federal occupational series falls under a 4-digit code:

0000 - Miscellaneous Occupations Group
0100 - Social Science, Psychology, and Welfare Group
0200 - Human Resources Management Group
0300 - General Administrative, Clerical, and Office Services Group
0400 - Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences Group
0500 - Accounting and Budget Group
0600 - Medical, Hospital, Dental, and Public Health Group
0700 - Veterinary Medical Science Group
0800 - Engineering and Architecture Group
0900 - Legal and Kindred Group
1000 - Information and Arts Group
1100 - Business and Industry Group
1200 - Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Group
1300 - Physical Sciences Group
1400 - Library and Archives Group
1500 - Mathematics and Statistics Group
1600 - Equipment, Facilities, and Services Group
1700 - Education Group
1800 - Inspection, Investigation, Enforcement, and Compliance Group
1900 - Quality Assurance, Inspection, and Grading Group
2000 - Supply Group
2100 - Transportation Group
2200 - Information Technology Group

Then, under each occupational series, you will find specific job titles. For example, under the miscellaneous 0300 series, positions range from Information Receptionist, Work Unit Supervisor, Administrative Officer, Telecommunications Specialist, to Equal Opportunity Compliance Officer, and many in-between, from clerical level to management level.

Once you scroll through the various occupational series and identify job titles that may look like a good fit with your experience and background, click on the PDF in the right column to read the Position Classification Standard for your selected position. This standard describes the minimum qualifications for a specific position within a specified occupational series.

This Position Standard, combined with the 'Duties' and 'Specialized Experience / Education' (including any 'Selective Factors', 'Knowledge, Skills and Abilities', or other specific requirements) listed on the vacancy announcement, presents the full scope of experience, credentials, and education required to qualify for a federal position.

A thorough analysis of a federal vacancy announcement and Position Standard from the OPM website, will help you determine a good fit position and occupation series as you seek federal employment.