Six Steps To Get Your Ideal Job

First week of April! This marks the fifth year working in the federal government. But, how I got here is a story in itself. Let's go down memory lane.

During my senior year in undergrad, I started working for an economic and policy analysis firm. Three years past, I realized that I could not see myself at this job forever so I decided to go back to school. In May 2015, I graduated with my master’s degree! This accomplishment meant that I would be moving onto greener pastures in no time. Several thoughts echoed in my head every day. This is just a job! This will not be my career! I need a promotion! I want more for myself!

I applied to many jobs – filled out tons of applications to companies, had several interviews and sent thank you emails to many employers. NO LUCK! It was time to re-evaluate what I wanted in my life and where I needed to apply. I decided to apply for the federal government on USAJOBS, even though I heard it was very hard to get into and they were very selective. I found a job posting for individuals who recently graduated from college or university. I quickly applied for it!

Two months later I got a phone call to come in for an interview pool. What is an interview pool? An individual has multiple interviews by 6-8 different offices within a federal agency. Then, an office can hire individuals of their choice. Two weeks later, I received an email for a job offer!

In April 2016, I started my federal government career.

As a new employee, you have a one-year probationary period. In addition, you have a randomly assigned mentor to help navigate working in a federal agency. Two months later, I had the same feeling as I did at my old job. I voiced my opinion to my mentor, she advised me to stay put for the probationary year. She kept telling me “people do not usually move from office to office in their first year.” I dared to do the unthinkable! If I could get into the federal government, I can move around within the federal government!

Six months later, I was working in the new office while still under my probationary period!

Below are the steps I took to manifest my work goal! I give my personal experiences on how I completed them. Anyone can implement the specific steps when looking for their ideal job.

1. What do you want to do? What are your skills? What are your work goals?

I had prior work experience and education in economics and health policy. I decided that I needed to find an office in my agency that focused on that. I wanted to work for a team-oriented office with like-minded individuals.

2. Research, research, research! Find companies that focus on the type of work that you are interested.

I did a quick search on the agency's intranet, a website for all employees. It had a ton of information about the twenty-two offices and the responsibilities for the federal agency. I chose four offices that peaked my interest. I learned as much as I can about each office and was ready to tackle the next step.

3. Make your resume relevant! The skills or experience listed on your resume should reflect what is expected for the job.

I downloaded the resume that I used on USAJOBS. Then, I made four variations of this resume. Each one specifically targeted for the office that I desired to work in.

4. Apply, apply, apply!

I could not apply to any external job postings because there were not any current openings. Instead, I had to find another way to get in. After more research, I learned about details in the federal government. Details are temporary assignments to a different position in another office but ultimately will have to return to original office. This was my solution and my problem. I wanted a permanent change!

I told my mentor that I wanted to take a detail, she advised to do an informational interview for the four selected offices. An informational interview is a networking opportunity with management to gain insight into working for a specific office and to see if you would be a good fit if they had any openings. I created an email to send to the directors of each office to request an informational interview.

5. Prepare for the interview

Success – I landed four informational interviews! To prepare for the interview, I did the following:

  • Research the mission, vision and projects/duties that each office was responsible for

  • Know my resume inside and out to the point I could recite the whole thing from memory

  • Practice answering most common interview questions (if they asked, remember this was not a formal interview)

  • Write down questions that I had for the director as well – I had a ton of them!

  • Practice how I would end the interview! *this is very important because I had to leave a lasting impression and express my interest to work at the office, even if it was just for a detail assignment*

6. Don’t forget to say thank you!

After the four informational interviews, I sent a follow-up email expressing my gratitude for the directors taking time to see me and answer my questions about the office. One out of the four interviews sparked my interest the most because I connected with that director the most. Unfortunately, he told me they were not accepting any detail assignments.

Two weeks later, I was disappointed and still working at the original office. I refused to give up; I was determined to manifest my work goal! I emailed the director again to see if we could schedule another meeting. He scheduled a meeting between him, the deputy director and myself. During this meeting, I had to prove myself – impress the directors to the point that they would take a chance and find a way to hire me. It worked, they told me they would consult with HR to figure out how they could bring me onto the team! I was hired as a complete transfer from the original office to the new office. No detail assignment. A full-time transfer of position -- all before I finished my probationary period.

God is Good! All The Time! 👏

To the person reading this, no one can tell you that something is not possible. If you desire a change, make it happen. Prepare and manifest your goal!