Catonsville, MD | April 16, 2021
Wednesday April 21st is National Administrative Professionals Day, a holiday for honoring the contributions of these vital workers. One way to celebrate the day is to research new job opportunities. Federal jobs guru Kathryn Troutman suggests you consider the government workplace as Uncle Sam employs so many administrative professionals. And at a time when people are concerned about having quality jobs, the US government stands out for its stability, pay, benefits, flexibility and number of openings.
Troutman recommends exploring this option by doing a search on USAJOBS to see how many administrative opportunities there are in the government. Also, take a look at the Occupational Series 0300 to get a sense of the breadth of this category. A common employee celebrated on this holiday is the Administrative Assistant, so this release looks at the opportunities for that position.
“I started my own career as an assistant at an insurance company processing claims,” shares Troutman. “Today I run my own federal resume writing and consulting firm and I am a professional federal jobs trainer. Becoming an administrative worker is a good way to get in and gain experience. Then you can build from there.”
Here’s another example of this “foot in the door” strategy. One of the success stories in Troutman’s 8th edition of the Jobseeker’s Guide was Mariano Troy. Using Troutman’s outline format for his federal resume, Mariano landed a position as an Administrative Specialist (government term for Administrative Assistant) with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Then he became an Emergency Management Specialist after receiving training to take that promotion.
To do a thorough search on USAJOBS for Administrative Assistant openings, you’ll need to know the additional occupational terms the government uses for these positions. They include “Administrative Specialist,” “Office Automation Assistant” (known as “OA” as in “I am an OA”), “Clerical” and “Secretary.” A recent search found the following number of openings using these terms:
Number of USAJOBS Openings in Recent Search
- Administrative Assistant: 867
- Administrative Specialist: 670
- Office Automation Assistant (OA): 129
- Clerical: 1713
- Secretary: 1933
One vacancy announcement Troutman spotted during the search was for two administrative support positions with the National Park Service related to the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in Washington State. One was at the Fort Spokane district office and the other at the park district office in Kettle Falls.
“A ‘Selective Factor’ qualification stated in the announcement is the skills of a qualified typist who types at least 40 words a minute,” Troutman pointed out. “The announcement also says this is a ‘screen out’ requirement. So that skill must appear on the resume or you’re out.”
Other announcement details showed that these were full-time permanent positions with a pay scale/grade of GS-5 to GS-7. The salary listed was from $35,265 to $56,790 a year. Required was a full year of specialized experience at the GS-4 level (could be from federal employment or private sector), with administrative functions of payroll, personnel, travel, procurement, budget, and formal correspondence. In addition to federal employees who meet the definition of a “surplus” or “displaced” employee, the jobs were open to the public — something to also check along the right side of a USAJOBS vacancy announcement (who can apply?).
The jobs were marked “telework eligible.” Troutman explained, “This means that you could work from home some of the time. But you’d have to live in the area so you could go into the office when required.”
To apply, you must learn how to write a federal resume that carefully matches the qualifications listed in the announcement, plus the additional details the government requires. Troutman says an admin fed resume is typically three pages. Her best-selling book the Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Edition will walk you through the writing process, and it provides 17 sample resumes. Troutman’s firm The Resume Place also offers consultations with expert feedback on a federal resume toward one vacancy announcement for $190, including 30 minutes on the phone and a written report.
Wondering how to stand out for these federal admin assistant jobs? Troutman advises, “Have a whole section on your computer skills near the top of the resume. Include the software you have used, what level, if you assisted others working with the software. It will definitely help to have excellent computer skills.”
And again, in these difficult times, the federal government has been a standout as a stable employer. Troutman says that during the pandemic when many American businesses downsized or closed, the government did not. Federal workers just did their jobs from home.
Troutman remarked that the federal workplace is also a very family-friendly environment with excellent benefits, including paid leave after the birth of a child whether you’re the mother or the father. The government offers health and life insurance, plus retirement benefits. There are 10 recognized paid holidays a year, plus generous vacation time and sick leave. For more details on benefits, click here.
“What I really like to emphasize about the federal government is that there are so many opportunities for career growth,” Troutman noted. “Because the government is so huge. You could start at a GS-5 admin level making $30,414 to $39,540 and over the years eventually move up to GS-11 making $55,756 to $72,487. Plus some locations have extra percentages and added paid expenses. Contrast that to a small private company, where there may not be enough opportunity for growth or change.”
To explore this further, start job searching on USAJOBS and these tips and Troutman’s resume book can help guide you from there. Happy National Administrative Professionals Day!
Kathryn Troutman is the Founder and President of Resume Place, Inc., a Federal Career Consulting business located in Catonsville, MD. Her firm specializes in writing and designing professional federal resumes, as well as consulting, coaching and education on the federal hiring process. She is the author of many best-selling federal career books, including the Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed.
Troutman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable media guest, appearing on Beverly Jones’s Jazzed about Work on NPR’s WOUB, Carol Fishman Cohen’s 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch (Relaunching Your Career), Mark Miller’s Repurpose Your Career, and numerous times on Mike Causey’s Your Turn show on Federal News Network. Her business, The Resume Place, had been featured in The Washington Post. To hear interviews of this top federal jobs expert, click here.
The Official Hiring Website of the United States Government: USAJOBS.gov
USAJOBS Vacancy Announcement for Administrative Assistant
Resume Place’s Federal Career Consulting and Presidential Appointee Consulting
For examples of federal resumes including IT, see Troutman’s:
Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed.