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Focus on yourself first to find your federal job fit

Lori Michelle Ryan, JIST Publishing

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Applying for a job with the federal government can be a difficult and maddening ordeal that involves a long application process and a complex organizational structure. Federal job seekers are often told to take any federal position just to get their foot in the door. However, this advice is outdated and misleading.

In their book, "Find Your Federal Job Fit," Janet M. Ruck and Karol Taylor describe how to develop a career identity through a planning process that is designed to help individuals find the federal position that suits them best.

To better understand your career identity, Ruck and Taylor say you must figure out why you work and what meaningful work is for you.

"Work is an extension of your place in the world, and ideally it expresses who you are," Ruck and Taylor say. "Can you identify what you are called to do in life? Usually characterized by a passion or a great yearning to pursue a field, discipline or venture, meaningful work and activities can sometimes make themselves known to you before you are aware of or identify them."

After identifying your meaningful work, the authors suggest creating a personal mission statement and identifying your life purpose using some simple questions:


  • What do you consider to be your best characteristics?

  • How do you reveal these characteristics to others?

  • What are some ways in which you would like to use these characteristics in your life and your work?


The next step to generating a career identity is to develop a personal brand, which can help you stand out from other federal job applicants. The personal brand, the authors say, "reflects who you are and shows through your actions what you stand for. ... A personal brand is authentic and organic and emanates from who you are in reality. It is not contrived, forced or created, yet it must be cultivated, reinforced and nurtured."

Using your personal brand, create a statement that succinctly summarizes the qualities you possess that would be desirable for a federal position. Ruck and Taylor recommend these steps:


  • Focus on a unique self-description.

  • Describe what you do.

  • Explain how you are unique.

  • Describe your goal.


When you've completed these exercises, you can consider them together to develop your career goal, which could point you toward your future federal career. Create a vision of where you want to work, what you want to do and how you can contribute to the job.

Finding a federal job doesn't have to be daunting; you can simplify the process by first focusing on yourself and developing your career identity.

Lori Michelle Ryan is the Marketing Communications Specialist at JIST Publishing, America's Career Publisher. In this role, she helps job seekers, career changers, students and working professionals develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the job market and world of work.



Last Updated: 27/01/2012 - 11:37 AM


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