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Are You Qualified?

If you read a federal vacancy announcement — and focus on “must have 52 weeks time in grade at the next lower level” to qualify for a federal job –read again – do not be deterred. A federal vacancy announcements needs to be analyzed and translated to determine qualifications and application submission requirements. Read more…

By Diane Hudson Burns

Understanding the Federal Announcement
Each federal job vacancy announcement will contain many acronyms or refer to federal items and special consideration categories that may seem unfamiliar. Do not be deterred! Keep reading.

1. Start by looking for the section “Who may be considered.” If you do not have any previous federal employment or special hiring preferences, look for positions that are open to the “General Public.”

2. Second, look for the “Open Period” and mark the closing date, to determine if you have adequate time to complete the application before the closing date.

3. Third, look for the “Qualification” section and read the minimum qualifications: “Applicant must have one year of specialized experience ‘equivalent’ to the next lower grade in the Federal service, which has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position. **Please note, it says equivalent. Look for positions that have ‘equivalent’ requirements.

4. Identify the “Education” / experience requirements: If you read, “There is no educational substitution at the GS-13 level.” This means, as an applicant, your educational background will not be considered — you must have experience.

- For other jobs, you may see a requirement for education: “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent degree from a school approved or accredited by (a) the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), (b) a State department of education, or (c) a State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.”

- And, yet, in other cases, it may be a combination of education and experience:
Degree in professional engineering. Or degree including differential and integral calculus and courses in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.


A combination of education and experience--college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering.

5. In a final step, to determine your qualifications, look for the “How You Will Be Evaluated” and mark any Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, Quality Ranking Factors, and Selective Placement Factors. Selective or Screen-out factors may include such items as commuting distance, languages, educational requirements, proficiencies, internal agency candidate, and other considerations.

If you meet the requirements, based on your previous experience, combined with meeting the requirements in the “Major Duties” section, then you may qualify for the position.