I’m a Federal Employee Thanks to Schedule A. You Can Be, Too!

Tiffany Jolliff Tiffany Jolliff

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.

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Schedule A is only for new hires. If you use Schedule A as a permanent federal employee, you have to give up your permanent status and go back to risky exempt status, where you can be terminated fairly easy. And there is no guarantee that you will be converted from exempt to permanent status. A group of disabled employees at the Social Security Administration just settled a class action lawsuit where they had been passed over for promotion (advancement) for years. The lead plaintiff tried but failed to receive a promotion for 23 years. We need a Schedule A for permanent federal employees and advancement for people with disabilities needs to be much more vigorously enforced.

I am very interested in this program

My son who is part of the Massachusetts rehabilitation Commission Vocational Rehabilitation program - has for many years tried applying to multiple Federal jobs - using the Schedule A process for jobs he is job ready qualified for and has gotten little or no feedback from the many jobs he applied too. He has always gotten the required form completed by his VR Counselor- yet has heard nothing.
I think the Schedule A process for a disabled person to use "could" be a good program, but the complexities when using this Schedule A process when applying for positions is extremely difficult, even some counselors don't have a good understanding of how to help their clients using this process.
Please re-look at this program to improve and ease the application process. Many disabled don't even know about this program. If there is truly a desire tio improve hiring of individuals with disabilities in the Federal and State government agencies, improve and ease the Schedule A program for disabled persons to know about it, their counselors clearly understand how to use and recommend it to their clients, and help Transition age students with disabilities have a true understanding of the program, as they move from the Educational System to the Adult Services systems. Jim Riley [781-942-0437]

Dear Mr Riley, I am a schedule A " Target" disabled. I fully get your frustration. The OPM process and policy for hiring the disabled is seriously broken, and nonexistent in terms of true hiring opportunities. First you/ disabled have to fight the preferential hiring called "top three groups". From the very beginning the deck is "stacked" against you. Schedule A non military disabled don't stand a chance of getting a federal, state job. Even private industry the preference for vets makes getting a job impossible other than a poverty level service industry job. Not to take away from our service members. I have encountered numerous civilian hiring officials that are designated to hire Schedule A that aren't even aware of the "non compete" status of the Schedule A program. There is no monitoring from what I can see of hiring goals of Schdule A. It is a total waste of time and effort to put yourself through the frustration of thinking you have an "equal" chance! A law requires hiring from certain "groups" first and in a specific order before an average disabled person can even be considered. Don't bother applying to USAJOBS.

They stereotyped me and just assumed that because I was "disabled" I wouldn't be able to do the job. They didn't expect me to make it. I realize that now.

I went through this process last year, I failed the medical hearing test, which I knew I would, I wear a hearing aid, they allow vision tests with glasses, but would not allow me to wear my hearing aid. I can hear sounds fine, it is speech level in one ear that I can not, I also read lips, due to having difficulty getting jobs I qualify for has caused some anxiety , so double whammy, medications I am currently on. I have a college degree. So after I sent the eqip, time stamped and dated on time, they tell me I am involuntary withdrawn from the hiring process and to reapply in 6 months ,if the job is still available. When I disagreed and told them i had proof it was submitted on time, they changed the reason to why I wasn't eligible to an address problem

Well I am applying again now, should I do the Schedule A this time? I have flown through the process because most of it still applies from last year.

I am a 100% disabled veteran and I have not been able to find work under schedule A or veteran preference.
What does preference suppose to mean in the hiring process? In my case nothing. I have submitted for 66 positions over the last 5 years and not one interview. The system does not have hiring preference it has cronyism as preference and I am a testament to this fact. Positions posted as open are filled with current employees not outside new hires just look at the statistical data it will prove me right.

Steven Sullivan after reading your post I have to say that you need to beef up your resume. If the job description states certain qualifications and responsibilities then put it on your resume. Make sure you build and save a resume instead of uploading your resume. Edit your saved resumes to match other jobs you apply for. It should help with the selection process. Good luck...

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