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Thread: Hiring tips

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    Not at my desk
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    7,503

    Hiring tips

    Thanks to Ted (Universible) for sparking this thought when he posted his “useful info” in response to my “rules” post. Although his “info” is slightly different in focus than this thread, it gave me the idea to start a generic hiring thread with some common “useful info” or "tips" on things that I did as part of various Federal hiring processes that I’ve been involved in or for agencies I’ve applied to. I will post most of the obvious ones first, but was then hoping that some of ya’ll could add the little things YOU do or that you’ve found effective. Some of this is common sense, I hope, but it's mainly for people who may be just starting out in the hiring process:

    Make/keep electronic copies of every resume/OF-612/KSA that you send. Make sure that when you edit or update one of these, that you “save as” something else (i.e. “Forest Service application, June 2003, Bend OR”) and keep the original as-is - don’t edit and re-save the same copy because you may discover later on that you said something or described something better or had more success with a previous application.

    Don’t use the exact same resume for every job. You never know what one agency might be looking for that’s different from the next, so read the vacancy announcement carefully, highlight the salient points of the job description, and tailor your resume to fit. It also doesn’t hurt to research the agency’s mission and also tailor your resume/KSA’s in that regard.

    I keep a file called “usable frags” for the same reason above. Knowing how squirrelly OPM is and how hard it is to get things past them – i.e. how you often need just the right phrase/paragraph to describe some aspect of your experience or background. I keep a Word document with odds and ends from different resumes and KSA’s that I draw on when needed.

    Keep a folder for each resume you send out. Inside, have the following: 1) a copy of the vacancy announcement (I can’t count the number of times I had a question later on and had not printed it out, had to hunt on USAJobs for it, couldn’t find it, etc.); 2) a copy of the actual resume and KSA’s that you submitted; and 3) a small slip of paper with a timeline, showing actions you took, supporting documents you sent and when, and marking down whom you spoke with, when, their phone numbers, what you asked/what was discussed, and any other pertinent details.

    Make multiple copies of “disposable” supporting documents like college transcripts, letters of recommendation, DD-214’s, SF-50’s, pay stubs, about a dozen photocopies of your DL, birth certificate, etc.

    Before you interview, RESEARCH the agency. Find out what their mission is, what their investigative foci are, where they expend the most resources. Learn as much about them as you can. I’m thinking offhand of all the people who come to this board and state: “I just applied to the ‘U.S. Marshall’s’” or “I just sent my application in for special agent with the ‘Drug Enforcement Agency’.” If you don’t know enough about an agency that you can’t even get their name right, you’re probably not going to be able to fake your way through the hiring process. You should know how big they are, what their priorities are, and yes, how to spell their name (!).

    Make an outline of questions that YOU would ask a potential applicant and answer them in your mind before you go in to an interview. You obviously can’t think of all of them and you can’t deal with scenario-type, “what would you do if…”questions, but you should know: 1) why you want to work there; 2) what you can contribute to the agency; what parts of your experience are GOOD parts/assets; 4) what you think you lack or need to work on, etc.

    When you interview – bring a notepad with any questions you may have, and when they ask you if you have any, by all means ASK them. Shows that you’re thinking about the position. Hey, it’s not as if you DON’T have any questions: if you didn’t, you wouldn’t come to this board, right? (just don’t ask them inane questions like “what kind of badge/gun/car do I get?”, OK!).

    SAVE EVERYTHING – even after you get hired. You may not be there forever and may need this stuff, sometimes sooner than you think.

    Like I said, mostly all common sense, but it may help someone. Anyone else?

    k

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    California
    Posts
    71
    Do enough research and put in enough thought to have a good answer for WHY you want to be a X with agency ABC.

    If the interview panel asks why you want to work there and you do not have an answer, you probably are not going very far after the interview.

    I know it seems like common sense, but I've heard many stories from co-workers who have been on hiring panels where people have no answer for why they want to work there.

  3. #3
    psheeran Guest
    Would it be a good idea to make this a sticky? Pretty good info that would apply to anybody applying and people can post to it if they have any other tips.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    4,203
    Originally posted by psheeran
    Would it be a good idea to make this a sticky?
    Makes sense to me. It shall be done.
    --LAE

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    437
    Krellum has some excellent advice which everyone can benefit from. I'll just add 2 things.

    1. Keep EVERYTHING- obviously paperwork you've submitted like OF-612 and SF-86, but also everything that you have signed, faxed, or received such as NOR's or appointment letters. You will need them so you know what you did and when. This isn't so you can be a smart ass when you talk to the HR people, but so you can refer to dates and what was sent when.

    2. During my process I would enter "journal entries" into my Outlook calendar. That way I can scroll through and see that I spoke with Mrs. X on 12/03/03 regarding etc. And if Mrs. X tells you to call Mr. Y on 01/10/04 you can make a note and set a pop up reminder. I have dates of most everyone I spoke with, dates I submitted things and dates when I cleared interviews, meds and BI's. If you don't have MS Outlook then use yahoo calendar or another free program. I just like the computer calendars because they remind me to do things and they are easy to scroll through.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    FL
    Posts
    2,685

    Just the Fax

    When faxing important HR and other employment documents, keep a copy of the fax machine's transmission report. I have used these in the past to show that an agency did receive a fax.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    100

    Another interview tip

    One thing I always do and it seems to work wonders (this works outside of law enforcement too)...

    When it comes down to the obligatory "do you have any questions for me?" portion of the interview, make your first question specifically about the interviewer. To demonstrate, try:

    "What brought you to XYZ agency?"
    "What has kept you at XYZ agency?"
    or even better "what do you love most about the job?"

    This actually accomplishes a few objectives:

    1. It throws the interviewer off. Addressing the question directly to the interview forces them to give a personal opinion on their involvement with the agency. Surprisingly, I have had many candid responses to the question and it has given me a very good perception of the prospective employer. Many times your interviewer is someone that isn't part of a recruitment team and won't always give you the standard company line.
    2. It personalizes your interaction, which in turn makes you stand out among the rest of the competition.
    3. By seeking out honest answers from personnel, it individualizes the respective employee and indicates you are looking past just the image of the agency and more about the people that are a part of it.
    4. It is also a nice spring board into seeking the information you really want by turning the interaction more into a conversation than just a simple Q & A. This also gives the impression that you are a people person.

    I have had very positive feedback shared with me from many interviewers based on this one little suggestion and I highly recommend you incorporate it into your game plan. Hope this helps...
    "A plan is a list of things that don't happen."
    -Parker, "The Way of the Gun"

  8. #8
    nwohsy Guest
    I concur with the above. I have used it several times through the years. It is amazing how you can catch the interviewer off guard, and bang-o a floodgate of information pours forth. It is almost like turning the switch to off and saying ' off the record, what's the deal with this place". Everyone is put at ease and a dialog just begins. In one case I wound up having lunch with a Major and Lieutenant who were part of the interview panel. It turned out we all shared a little common ground, hot cajun food. To this day, it was the best plate of blackened catfish and dirty rice I have ever had, and the price was right.......

  9. #9
    theman Guest
    WaltKosomik,


    Brilliant…………, with your permission I will use that. Excellent……..it briefs well and passes the common sense test.

  10. #10
    CFIGuy Guest
    I have a DEA initial interview in a few hours, and you can bet I will be putting this to use immediately!
    CFIGuy

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    2,579
    Some more tips. Keep hard copies and electronic copies of important documents. I am updating my SF-86 right now. I am using my old 86s and FD-140, and it's making the process much easier.

    Also, I have important documents like my DD-214, Awards, Transcripts, Training Certificates, etc, etc, scanned as JPEGs. Need a copy of my DD-214 and college transcripts for an app? I just hit print, and viola there it is. Also, I now have a hard copy, electronic copy on the hard drive, and copy on a CD. That way I have protection from loss or damage to the originals and copies.
    "What we need are critical lovers of America - patriots who express their faith in their country by working to improve it." - Hubert Humphrey

  12. #12
    Erin5 Guest

    Re: Hiring tips

    That is good advice about flipping the questions on the interviewer, it does make it seem like you are very interested in the agency and it allows you to see what type of people you will be dealing with.

  13. #13
    Brindle Guest
    Just a tip ...
    I provided my OPM background investigator with additional information that I thought would help speed him along. For example, the form that the OPM background investigator used (I think it was the SF-86) did not have a space to enter cellular phone. I had a document that included just about all the contact information possible. For example, work location address, work mailing address, home location address, home mailing address, pager number, cellular phone, etc. Particularly, for teachers I also indicated the best ways to reach them (I indicated when class was out and when they could call or drop by). Not only was my OPM background investigator impressed, but she said that this would greatly help her.

    Good luck to you all.


 

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