Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

6 Tips to Find a Job With the Federal Government

Want to work for Uncle Sam? The jobs aren't just in D.C. Here's where to look and how to get your résumé noticed

federal government jobs hannon job capitol washington DC

Federal government employment in your sights? Job relocation to D.C. is not required if you know the facts. — Hemis / Alamy

En español | Talk to practically anyone who has hunted for a job with the federal government, and he or she will tell you the hiring process can be painfully slow and bureaucratic. And, following the government shutdown and pay freezes last year, why would anyone want to work for Uncle Sam?

There are lots of good reasons to work in the public sector. This year, for example, the federal government is expected to hire around 95,000 new workers, up from 80,000 last year, and more openings are expected. Roughly a quarter of the 2.1 million federal civilian workers are now eligible for retirement, and as the economy improves, more workers may be headed for the exits.

When someone retires, "an agency doesn't automatically want to fill that with someone younger and less experienced," says Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach for the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that works to increase knowledge about federal careers. "They want someone who can hit the ground running."

Even if you don't live in or around Washington, D.C., or have no desire to, that's fine — as four out of five federal government jobs are based outside the nation's capital. In fact, more than 50,000 government employees work abroad.

See also: Why older Americans are working in Afghanistan

And consider this: Health and retirement benefits tend to be more generous than in the private sector, and there are ample opportunities for telecommuting and flextime at many agencies. Pay is competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors: Midlevel job wages can run from $50,000 to more than $100,000 a year.

The trick is to learn how to navigate the system. Here's how to start your government job search.

Next page: First of all, follow your passion. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Your Work


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits AT&T Wireless Cell Phone

Members save 10% on monthly usage charges on qualified AT&T wireless plans.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services and 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points