BREAKING NEWS: Congratulations, if you are invited to the Online Component. We recommend our ALJ Writing Guide to review the 13 ALJ Competencies! We also recommend our Structured Interview practice if you are invited to the Structured Interview component of the ALJ Examination.
Attention ODAR Attorney-Advisors and Other Qualified Candidates: Get your CCARs ready for the upcoming 2016 ALJ Exam
On Friday, March 4, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that the Federal Administrative Law Judge exam will soon open for qualified candidates. OPM administers the competitive examination process by which the register of ALJs is created and maintained. In 2013, OPM released news of the upcoming announcement approximately one month ahead of time. In 2009, only two weeks’ notice was given.
Qualified Attorney-Advisors at the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) have been encouraged to apply to take the upcoming exam. Experienced litigators and administrative lawyers in private practice or in other government roles should also apply. Although the precise contents of the ALJ exam are a closely held secret, the application process which starts the process requires a resume and qualifications narratives to document 7 or more years of qualifying experience. Licensing details are also required.
Competing effectively for adjudicatory positions requires mastery of the CCAR style of accomplishment writing. In a shortened, abstract form, CCARs help flesh out a candidate’s resume. In full narrative form, they find their way into other parts of the testing process, including the Structured Interview, during which candidates are expected to tell stories that reveal key aspects of their past performance.
Most trial lawyers know that winning a jury trial requires more than argument and technical sufficiency. It requires a story and evidence consistent with a predetermined theme. In federal competitive hiring, that theme is driven home by CCARs. The CCAR enables the government to examine how candidates have performed historically, using their knowledge, skills and abilities—also known as competencies—to deliver measurable, high quality outcomes.
That’s why the USAJOBS.gov Resume Builder expressly asks applicants to describe not just the job held, but also one’s accomplishments. The Resume Builder gives applicants up to 5000 characters—about a page and a half per job block—to describe the job and synopsize their best CCARs, thus bringing their resumes to life.
The CCAR Accomplishment Builder can help you build your best Federal Resume for the ALJ Announcement.
CCAR Example (drawn from multiple candidate examples)
Challenge: In 20XX, the SSA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) did not have a complete set of its rules and regulations correlating with formatted exemplar decision language. I led a project to create a compendium that would help ALJs and decision writers in our region find what was needed to draft decisions.
Context: At the time, I was an ODAR Attorney Advisor in the XXXX Region. I carried out research, decided how the law applied in disability cases, and drafted 100s of ALJ decisions.
Actions: I gathered all of the case law, rules, and sample language relevant to our cases. Then I organized it and created a compendium of source materials for other attorneys and ALJs to use.
Results: I presented my results to my colleagues and to the ALJs, who found it immensely helpful. It was quickly adopted and used by everyone in my office. Over the past XX years I have periodically updated the materials and they are still being used today to deliver legally correct, high quality decisions in an expeditious manner.
Be prepared by drafting your own CCAR narratives today
Find out how ALJ candidates can use their CCARs effectively to apply and compete effectively for a slot on the ALJ register. The Resume Place has been helping candidates apply for federal jobs for 40+ years. We have kept up to date on evolving ALJ requirements and what it takes to gain a slot on the ALJ register, from resume and qualifications writing through to the Structured Interview.
Additional resources are found here:
The all-new ALJ Writing Guide, 2nd Edition, by Nicole Schultheis & Kathryn Troutman (Resume Place 2016)
The all-new 2016 ALJ Webinar, offered weekly with dates as late as April 2, 2016
Nicole Schultheis, Attorney at Law (Maryland)* SES Writer/Editor | Certified Federal Resume Writer / Certified Federal Job Search Trainer & Career Coach The Resume Place