Myths vs. Facts! The Truth About Landing a Job in Government

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Myths vs. Facts! Breaking down the common misconceptions, urban legends and false facts around landing a job in Government.

MYTH #1: The Political Science Major Myth

Fact: There are many federal careers that match a variety of majors. Federal agencies do not just need Political Science majors! In fact, some of the highest need areas are public health and medicine, engineering, the sciences, business, accounting, and information technology. Graduate degrees in government and public policy almost always lead to political careers, but since the industry is so diverse, there is no type of background that wouldn’t translate into an appropriate government job. Engineers can work for NASA, language majors can work for the CIA, and, surprisingly, bio majors can end up in the Senate.

MYTH #2: The “Washington” Myth

Fact: Jobs are not just located in Washington D.C. In fact, 84% of federal jobs are OUTSIDE of the D.C. metro region, with 50,000 jobs abroad!

 MYTH #3: The “Low Pay” Myth

Fact: Entry-level salaries are competitive with many industries. Plus, Federal employees advance quickly with the possibility of increasing their salary by 150 percent in just 2-3 years. Job security, work/life balance, leave, holidays and flexible work arrangements, and additional financial benefits, such as assistance with loan repayment are a plus as well.

 The General Schedule (GS) is the main pay scale for federal employees, especially those in professional, technical, administrative or clerical positions. The system consists of 15 grades, from GS-1 to GS-15. There are also 10 steps within each grade. The grade level assigned to a position determines the pay level for that job.

 MYTH #4: I can only work with the FBI or the CIA

Fact: There are federal jobs suited to various interests and skills, from art history to zoology. Government is also a great place to combine your skills with your interests. For example, you could use your mathematics background and your interest in the environment by working as an Accountant at the Environmental Protection Agency, your engineering degree to improve airport security, or your biology degree and interest in medicine to conduct medical research at the National Institute of Health. You can see a list of the best places to work in the federal government.

MYTH #5: The “Long and Complicated Resume” Myth

Fact: The official instructions for “What to Include in your Federal Resume” state that you should include recent and relevant positions for the job. Recent in this case means 10 years. You can include positions older than 10 years, but keep those jobs shorter and don’t include anything over 20 years old. Relevant means any job that demonstrates specialized experience for the position (experience can include internships, volunteer work, and part-time/full-time positions).

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