Catonsville, MD | March 25, 2021
Job Searching for STEM Work? Set Your Sights on USAJobs.gov
Recent searches on USAJOBs by federal jobs guru Kathryn Troutman found numerous vacancies in all STEM categories selected. The federal government is definitely hiring STEM professionals, offering great salaries and terrific benefits. Some openings were marked “direct hire,” which streamlines the federal application procress and makes hiring faster.
Over 7.31 million Americans work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And BLS predicts that the number of positions will grow by 8.0% by 2029, compared to 3.7% for all fields. But if you’re in the job market today, STEM openings may not seem very easy to find. Jobs coach Kathryn Troutman suggests current applicants search for STEM vacancies on USAJOBs.gov.
“It’s just incredible. There are so many available STEM positions in the government,” Troutman noted. “A person who has a degree in a STEM field or is in mid-career should certainly look at the US government in addition to the private sector.” She added that federal STEM employees are important for keeping America safe, meeting current threats, and preparing the United States for the future.
Troutman points to Public Health as the hottest STEM area right now, because of the challenges of getting Americans vaccinated and other COVID-19 issues. Typing “FDA” (for Food and Drug Administration) into the USAJOBs search function one recent Monday, she found 99 vacancies with the agency that day. These included Technical Information Specialist, Health Scientist, Microbiologist, Physician, Consumer Safety Officer and Chemist.
“Let’s see what they have at the CDC,” she suggested next. USAJOBs showed 123 openings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including Public Health Analyst, Epidemiologist, Public Health Advisor, Behavioral Scientist and Health Scientist.
“Let me type in the word CYBER and see what comes up,” she then said. The result was 285 federal jobs open worldwide. Troutman commented that just about every agency you could think of is hiring cybersecurity IT people, and explained that cyber and IT often go together in federal positions.
Moving on to Engineering, 2168 vacancies popped up on USAJOBs – including for Engineering Technician (many of those), Civil Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, Nuclear Engineer and Electrical Engineer.
Looking at federal jobs in the medical field, Troutman found 1531 Nurse job openings, 1560 for Physician Assistants, and 828 for Physicians.
“The point is that the federal government is hiring STEM,” she said. “And by working for the federal government, you can make a difference with policies, and procedures, and legislation.”
One of the vacancy announcements that surfaced was a Gateways internship program at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It involved multiple hires in Washington, DC of students from high school up through college to the graduate school level. “This is a great internship position where you could begin your career,” Troutman pointed out. “The internships are usually part-time, they work around your courses, they’re paid and it’s telecommute. So there are a lot of STEM opportunities for students and new grads too.”
Sometimes the government needs to fire faster, so a process was created called “Direct Hire.” This is a searchable term on the USAJOBs website. “These are the positions most critically needed in government at the moment,” Troutman explained. She cited IT Specialist (Cyber), Public Health, Contract Specialist and Law Enforcement as some areas that could be designated Direct Hire. She added, “The time it takes to hire is cut down because the USAJOBs Self-Assessment Questionnaire is eliminated, the announcement is open to only 100 or fewer applicants, and every qualified candidate is sent on to the hiring official.”
In certain situations, Direct Hire applicants can actually send their resumes directly to the hiring official rather than loading it onto USAJOBs. This was the case for some open STEM positions Troutman learned about affiliated with the Navy. Earlier on the day of this interview, Troutman had spoken to the HR person listed on the Navy Direct Hire announcement. He gave her a tip to share with jobseekers, and Troutman expounded on it “I always tell jobseekers that your resume must show that you have the required qualifications. The Navy HR person told me that they cannot infer any information. The manager may see that an applicant is well qualified, but can’t hire them if the right words aren’t on the resume. They can’t call and ask that the resume be amended either.”
How can you be sure to cover the required experience in your resume? Troutman said to read the vacancy announcement very closely, particularly the Qualifications and Specialized Experience sections. Use the keywords found there in your resume. You must also understand that the format for a federal resume is different than for a private industry resume. Federal resumes are longer, typically 5 pages. Troutman developed an Federal Resume Outline Format to help the qualifications stand out. The Duties and Responsibilities section for a previous job is broken out into small paragraphs of 5-8 lines each. Each paragraph has an ALL CAPS heading matching the keywords. Your current job might be written with 5-6 paragraphs.
For more help with writing the federal style resume, turn to Troutman’s best-selling Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed. The Guide provides 17 sample federal resumes as well as a special chapter covering Information Technology Specialist applications. Also, Troutman’s firm, The Resume Place, offers $190 Federal Career Consultations assessing your resume against one targeted announcement. Their feedback comes in the form of a report with suggestions for a new resume format and instructions for matching the announcement, as well as a resume writing estimate. It includes a half-hour of phone time too to explain the findings.
“You can see how many STEM jobs came up with these searches,” Troutman said. “One of my goals in coaching federal jobseekers is getting people to go to USAJOBs and search. Look at the jobs, read the duties, study the required qualifications, check out the salaries. These are the first steps in doing your federal job search. Without a doubt, federal STEM jobs are out there but you have to find them to apply.”
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.
The Official Hiring Website of the United States Government: USAJOBS.gov
Example of a USAJobs Search for “Engineering”
Results are here.
Example of a Direct Hire Vacancy Announcement
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.