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Starting Your Career at the U.S. Department of Labor

A Reference Guide for College Students and College Placement Officers

III. Applying For a Federal Position

Federal vacancy announcements describe all the information needed to complete an application such as the minimum required qualifications; the evaluation factors or competencies which will be used to rank applicants; a description of the work to be performed and where to send your application and the closing date.

After you identify a specific vacancy or hiring program which interests you, the next step is to submit your application or resume. The application, entitled the Optional Application for Federal Employment (OF 612), is available at your College Career Services Office, at any of our Human Resources Offices, and on the OPM Website at Some vacancy announcements have the option of applying through automated procedures, which may require special forms and instructions. Follow all the instructions in the vacancy announcement, as well as any additional instructions given to you by the office which issues the announcement.

You are strongly encouraged to provide separate narrative statements with your application or resume, explaining that you possess the competencies listed in the vacancy announcement. Addressing the competencies will make you a stronger applicant for the position for which you're applying. Statements addressing the competencies should include examples of training, volunteer or paid work accomplishments, etc., which demonstrate that you have the required knowledges or skills. For example, depending on the position being filled, "oral communication skill" could be demonstrated by active membership in a campus speaking association or club, or by successful work as a volunteer academic tutor. Attach this additional information to your application or resume and ensure that your name, social security number, and announcement number are included on each page.

Competencies help the Human Resources Office in determining your basic eligibility and whether you should be referred to the hiring manager for consideration, and they assist the hiring manager in determining whether to contact you for an interview.

Remember, in the Federal government, a full and complete application or resume is to your benefit! Tailor it to each job for which you apply with facts about your relevant education and experience (including volunteer activities), respond to all instructions and information requested, and make sure to mail it to the correct location in accordance with closing date instructions. An incomplete application or resume often precludes an applicant from further consideration!

If you choose to use a resume rather than the OF 612, you should include the following information.

Information to Include in Your Resume

Job Information

Announcement number (if applicable), title and grade (if known) of the position

Personal Information

  • Full name, mailing address (with ZIP code)
  • Day and evening phone numbers (with area code)
  • Veterans' preference (see note below)
  • Country of citizenship
  • Reinstatement eligibility (if applicable)
  • Highest Federal civilian grade held (if applicable)

Note: If you served on active duty in the U.S. military and received an honorable or general discharge, you may be eligible for veterans' preference and possibly for a noncompetitive appointment. To claim veterans' preference, submit a DD 214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," or other proof of eligibility for the type of veterans' preference requested, e.g., 5 points, 10 points. For specific information on veterans' preference, access the VetGuide on OPM's Website at


  • High school: Name, city, and state, date of diploma or GED
  • Colleges or universities: Name, city, state, ZIP code
  • Majors: Type and year of degree(s) received (If no degree, show total credits earned and indicate whether semester or quarter hours.)
  • Send a copy of your college transcript only if the vacancy announcement requests it.

Work Experience

Give the following information for all paid and non-paid work experience related to the job you're applying for:

  • Job title
  • Starting and ending dates
  • Salary
  • Employer's name and address
  • Supervisor's name and phone #
  • Hours worked per week
  • Duties and accomplishments
  • Indicate if we may contact your current supervisor.

Other Qualifications

  • Job-related training courses (title and year).
  • Job-related skills, i.e., other languages, computer software/hardware, tools, machinery, typing speed.
  • Job-related certificates and licenses.

Job-related honors, awards, and special accomplishments, (e.g., publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards).

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