Networking for Government Jobs
The federal government has one of the fairest and most regulated hiring and personnel management systems in the U.S. However, like any other industry, the stronger your network is, the more opportunities you will hear about.
Unless you already have a 30-pound Rolodex filled with government recruiters sitting on your desk, you might want to consider beefing up your network. One great way to do this is to attend government job fairs or general industry fairs where government reps will also attend.
Conferences, meetings, symposia, and other events targeted toward your field of interest are another good place to pick up leads. To find out about government networking events, check the employment section of your local newspaper or search the Internet. These events are often massive and sometimes, it can be difficult to have a meaningful conversation (other times, you might be interviewed on-the-spot, so be prepared and dressed appropriately in either case). If it’s a busy event, be sure to collect business cards and share at least a few words with representatives in agencies of interest to you.
Hang on to those cards, and make sure to send a follow-up email within the next day or two. It can be something as simple as, “John, it was great speaking with you at the Federal Jobs recruiting event last week. I was so interested to hear about the wonderful opportunities available at FAA. As we discussed on Friday, I am just about to complete my PhD in aeronautical engineering in May. Please keep me in mind as new opportunities become available.” You get the picture. Just let people know you’re interested, and keep following up so they remember who you are. But don’t be excessive or pushy, or you risk being a labeled a job-stalker.