We’ve all been through it. You submit a job application through USAJobs, and then don’t hear another word. You know you have the skills for that federal position, but you feel like the employment process is never-ending! If only there was a way to get your resume into the hands of a real person who will not only see that you are qualified for the position, but also understands your disability. Lament no more − your disability may, in fact, be one of your greatest assets.
On July 30, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13548 promoting the increased recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities in the federal government. The order called for 100,000 people with disabilities to be hired over the next 5 years. You might be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but it takes forever to get a job in the government.” I am here to tell you that I was able to successfully jump through the hoops to get in.
To help streamline the hiring process for people with disabilities, the Schedule A hiring authority was created. To demonstrate how Schedule A works, I’ll show you how I was hired at the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
- First, I had to qualify under the Schedule A guidelines. I learned that if I had a significant physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability, I could apply for government positions using this authority. I am blind. Check!
- Next, I had to get my Schedule A Letter. I contacted my vocational rehabilitation counselor who wrote a brief letter explaining that I have a disability and am capable of effectively performing in a government position. You can find a counselor at your local vocational rehabilitation agency here.
- I then identified the job I wanted. It just so happened that a position had opened up on the team I interned with in the summer of 2012.
- Next, I obtained the requirements for the position and prepared my resume. A federal resume tends to be more detailed than one for private-sector positions. It is important to tailor your federal resume to the position you want.
- Read the job description.
- Use key words from the description in your resume.
- Be very specific and describe how your skills and experiences qualify you for the duties listed for the job.
- I then applied to the open position on USAJobs. The position was listed twice – once for “status” candidates (those of us who have Schedule A eligibility) and again for the general public. Applying to both positions gets your resume in front of HR twice, and anyone can tell you that unless you’re being reaped for the Hunger Games, having your name in the pot more than once is always better.
I was selected for an interview, and after a few weeks, was offered the position using the Schedule A authority. Because of Schedule A, I joined ODEP in two months rather than the typical six to 12. You may be thinking, “This is too good to be true.” Trust me when I tell you that the process does work, although using the Schedule A hiring authority is not a guarantee of employment. A hiring manager is not required to interview or hire a Schedule A applicant. Schedule A simply streamlines the hiring process for a person with a qualifying disability.
The number of employees with disabilities working in the federal government is the highest it has been in more than 30 years, and the trend is still growing. Are you ready to make 2015 your year for finding employment? All you have to do is follow these easy steps!
- Get your Schedule A letter.
- Find positions that match your skill sets.
- Tailor your resume for each position.
- Submit your application(s) and stand by!
Tiffany Jolliff is a program specialist in the department's Office of Disability Employment Policy.