Within the next four years, one-third of all federal employees (nearly 1.9 million) will be eligible to retire. There are also new federal jobs being created as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Translation: tremendous opportunity for all job seekers and career changers.

The key to navigating the federal employment process is three-fold. First, become aware of the opportunities and benefits available. Second, familiarize yourself with the application and hiring process. Third, begin building relationships with federal agencies, just as you would build ongoing relationships with other potential employers. Here are a few tips:

Prepare: The application process is lengthy. After all, this is the government we are talking about! Increase your chances by allowing plenty of time to thoroughly complete the application process.

Choose Wisely: As with any position, you will be more successful in the search process if you apply for jobs that are a good match for your skills and talents. It is a good idea to do a little research before applying. Here are a couple links of value: www.makingthedifference.org/federaljobs/usajobsresume.shtml

www.makingthedifference.org/federaljobs/ksa.shtml

Practice Patience: It can take weeks to months before you will hear back about an application. Every federal job requires a background check before the agency can make a job offer. If the position is related to national security, applicants will be instructed to complete the security clearance process once they receive an offer. Be patient.

Follow-up: Contact a representative to learn the status of your application or to find out more about a job about a month after the closing date or, if the closing date is extended, about a month after you turn in your application.

To find job openings, visit the federal government job web site—www.usajobs.gov.