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Making it in IT: Finding Federal IT Job Opportunities

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Even with a sequester underway, governments at all levels (federal, state, county, and municipal) remain the biggest employers around. As of May 2013, in fact, there are over 22 million government employees overall. Today I'll show you how to find IT job opportunities with the federal government.

I’ve heard it said that Wal-Mart is the biggest private employer in the USA, with around two million people on its aggregate payrolls. That number is dwarfed, however, by total government employment at all levels in the US at over 22 million, as per the June 7, 2013, Employment Situation Summary (Table A-14) from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the feds accounting for nearly 3 million of that overall total (Table B-1, and another 2.2 million work in the US Postal Service) that takes up 20% of that overall total, and suggests that state government at just over 5 million and local governments at over 14 million may also provide fruitful fields for job prospecting as well.

For those interested in pursuing IT work with the federal government, there are many avenues leading into its wealth of agencies and arms. First, a little self-education might be a good idea. The same US Bureau of Labor Statistics that produces the monthly employment numbers also offers a nice 24-page guide entitled How to get a job in the Federal Government (PDF) that describes government job grades, top job opportunities and areas (IT is number 3 in the top 25 ranking), finding openings, and various ways to make contact and apply for open positions.

There’s also a very good outside view of this process available from About.com: entitled “Applying for U.S. Government Jobs;” it walks interested readers through the application process, application forms and filings, and the kind of personal and professional information you’ll be asked to supply as your work your way through the application process (the story also concludes with some tasty links, including one to About.com’s own Government Job Finder, Job Resources at Major Federal Agencies, and information about Veteran’s Preferences in the government job application and hiring processes). And finally, the 2012 Forbes story “5 Tips for Getting a Government Job” also provides useful tips, pointers, and other information.

Next, you’ll want to check into a couple of US Government job information and posting websites -- namely, USAJOBS (subtitled “The Federal Government’s Official Jobs Site”) and a more general government jobs portal site that includes state and local government job sites as well as federal listings: Government Jobs|USA.gov.  Third-party sites that list federal, state, and local government jobs abound, and include sites such as Laws.com, federalgovernmentjobs.us, the Federal Jobs Digest, and countless more items of similar ilk (run this Google Search to wear yourself out, with my enthusiastic blessings).

I can’t say that there’s a guaranteed government job for everybody who reads this blog, but if you’re looking for work (or a promotion, or  a change of scenery) it’s probably a good idea to add a government element to your overall job search strategy. Seems like the odds are about 1 in 8 (the ratio of the size of the total US workforce actively employed to the number of total government employees at all levels) that you might end up in a government job of one kind or another. Those aren’t necessarily winning odds, but they’re too strong to overlook!

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the , who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Check out Ed's Tom's IT Pro blog Making it in IT - Certification & Training.

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