The federal hiring process is different than applying for a position in the private sector. While the process can be confusing to navigate, below we have gathered our most frequently asked questions and provided answers to assist you in applying for a position with S&T.
Do I need a clearance to apply?
No, you do not need a clearance to apply. If you are selected for a position, a Department of Homeland Security staff member will provide instructions on how to begin the clearance process after you accept the tentative job offer.
What is the difference between the levels of security clearance?
Non-Critical Sensitive, Critical Sensitive, and Special Sensitive require in-depth background checks necessary for access to increasingly sensitive information. These are also known as Secret, Top Secret, and Top Secret/SCI. Details about the different levels of security clearance are available on USAJOBS Help and FAQ pages.
What does promotion potential mean?
Promotion potential tells you the highest level you can reach in the position. Generally, once a federal employee reaches the highest promotion level for his/her position, they need to apply for positions that have higher promotion potential in order to advance to the next level.
What is Veterans’ Preference?
Veterans’ preference is a special eligibility designed to thank veterans for their service, recognize their economic loss, and restore them to a favorable competitive position for federal employment. Veterans can apply for positions under the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) up to GS-11, the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA), or the 30% or More Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority. You can learn more about veterans’ preference at FedsHireVets.gov.
Where can I find S&T’s job announcements?
Visit www.usajobs.gov and keyword search for “Science and Technology Directorate.”
How do I apply through USAJOBS?
Create your account on www.usajobs.gov. Click the “Apply” button on the announcement, attach your resume and any supporting documents listed under “Required Documents” in the announcement, and answer the assessment questions. You may also be directed to submit a longer USAHire Assessment. Before submitting your application, make sure that you meet the qualifications listed on the announcement and that you have uploaded all of the required documents.
I applied and did not hear back. What should I do?
Applications go through a pre-screening process before reaching hiring managers for review. USAJOBS will notify you if you have been referred to a hiring manager or if you did not pass the pre-screening process. If you do not receive a notification from USAJOBS or just want to know the status of your application, you can check the status on your USAJOBS application dashboard or reach out to the point of contact at the bottom of the announcement. You can view the announcements for positions that have closed by accessing your USAJOBS application dashboard.
What is a tentative job offer?
Congratulations! This means you have been selected for a position with S&T. However, this is not the official offer letter. Your official offer letter is contingent upon successful completion of pre-employment requirements, which are listed in your tentative job offer letter.
I just received my tentative job offer! When should I give notice to my current employer?
You should not give notice to your current employer until you have been notified that you have successfully completed all pre-employment requirements and have a final job offer in hand. After receiving your tentative job offer, you will begin the pre-employment process, which includes drug testing and a background investigation. When you have completed the pre-employment process and HR determines that you have met all of the pre-employment requirements, an HR specialist will notify you to coordinate a mutually agreeable official start date for your official offer letter. Then you will receive your official job offer letter with reporting instructions.
How long does the pre-employment process take?
The pre-employment process can take weeks or months depending on the depth of the background investigation and your responsiveness to the different requirements (i.e., drug testing, completing security forms, etc.).
What will happen during my first few days as a new employee with S&T?
As a new employee, first, you will attend the DHS HQ Orientation that will help acclimate you to DHS. At this orientation you will learn about important employee information such as the organizational blueprint, mission, benefits, ethics, payroll, etc. Once you arrive at S&T, you will receive an invite from the S&T Human Capital Office to attend S&T’s bi-weekly New Hire Orientation. This is phase one of a two-part orientation that will help you acclimate to your new role at S&T and provide you with important information for your first few weeks onboard. After you attend the bi-weekly new hire orientation, you will receive an invite to attend S&T 101. S&T 101 is phase two of S&T’s New Hire Orientation, where you will get to hear from S&T’s senior leaders and learn more about S&T’s programs.
What will my work schedule be?
Your work schedule will be negotiated with your supervisor at the time of hire and/or during your first week onboard. Most S&T positions are full-time; many positions are eligible for flexible work schedules and telework. Work schedule and telework eligibility are also listed in the job opportunity announcement. During COVID, most of the S&T workforce has been virtual.
What benefits are available to me as a federal employee?
As a federal employee, you may be eligible for the following benefits: retirement; health, life, and long-term care insurance; flexible spending accounts; work/life enrichments; and survivor benefits. You can find more information about federal employee benefits on OPM.gov.
Does S&T promote continuous learning and career development?
Yes. S&T provides access to career development opportunities to employees such as training and other development activities. In addition, S&T requires employees to create Individual Development Plans (IDPs) annually. The S&T Human Capital Office provides employees with annual IDP training and a toolkit to reference while building their IDPs and regularly promotes training opportunities (internal and external) through a variety of communication channels.