Federal career workshop aids local job seekers

  • Published
  • By Megan Crusher
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs
The Airmen and Family Readiness office held a "Ten Steps to a Federal Job" class in the March Joint Powers Authority conference room, Oct. 27, to help service members and civilians navigate the federal jobs application process.

The March JPA asked Valerie Fioretta, Airmen and Family Readiness Center director, to teach the class because of the high rate of unemployment in the area. With the JPA's support, Fioretta invited military members to attend the class, as well.

Eleven of the 30 attendees had no prior military service, but are trying to get a job in the federal system. In addition to the civilians, there was a diverse group of people from March in attendance, including Air Reserve Technicians, traditional reservists, an Air National Guard member, a student hire, a military spouse and several attendees who are current federal employees.

Senior Master Sgt. Shirley Reyes, a health systems technician with the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, was in attendance because she is on the brink of retirement and would like to get hired in the federal system.

"I'm grateful for this opportunity to get a better understanding of how the federal jobs application process works," said Reyes. "I have applied in the past and I don't know what I did wrong but I never made the cut."

Reyes isn't alone in wondering what mistakes she made when applying for a federal position. Belinda Bell, 452nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron student hire, is attended the class in hopes of learning how to improve her chances when applying for federal jobs.

"I've tried many times and I'm never qualified or I just never get picked up," said Bell, a Navy veteran. "I did get a student hire position, but my last day is next month."

Lisa Johnson is a civilian with a Master's Degree in public administration, who heard about the class while volunteering for the Employment Development Department and is hoping to find out how to start a career in the federal employment system.

Fioretta kicked off the class by explaining some of the benefits of federal employment, such as the vast number of career fields, competitive pay, sick and annual leave, work schedule flexibility and locations worldwide, which is especially helpful for military spouses who often travel from base to base throughout their spouse's military career.

Fioretta related to class members by sharing her past experiences as a federal job applicant who was trying to "get her foot in the door." She is a hiring official and was able to tell class members what she looks for when hiring a new employee.

"Remember, your resumes are ranked and rated and this is not a time to skimp. Be robust! Your resume may be your interview," she said.

The one thing she said that will end an applicant's prospects on the spot is spelling errors in the resume.

"If you can't take the time to give me a perfect resume, you won't be hired. I don't have time to correct your mistakes," she said.

Fioretta went on to emphasize the importance of keywords and "knowledge, skills and abilities," also known as KSAs. The keywords can be found in the job description and must be used in the applicant's resume. The KSAs can help set an applicant's achievements apart from his or her competitors. Fioretta said it is important to be specific; tell what was accomplished, how it was done and what the impact was.

Fioretta also guided the class members through the USAJobs website to demonstrate how to use the website to find and apply for jobs. She incorporated exercises into the class, such as practice writing KSAs. Fioretta stayed after class to answer student questions.

"I gained a lot of additional information I didn't know so I'm happy I came," said Johnson.

Bell also said she gained valuable information from the class.

"I didn't know about the veteran's preference and I also didn't know you could call and find out what your rating is," said Bell. "That will help me find out why I wasn't hired for a position."

Fioretta was first certified to teach the class while stationed in England in 2007 and was recently recertified to continue teaching the four-hour class. Her goal was to give people a better understanding of how to apply for federal jobs.

All federal positions are posted at www.usajobs.gov.

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