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ATD Blog

Tips and Tricks for Landing a Job in the Federal Government

Thursday, February 17, 2022

With many private businesses closing indefinitely during the past year and a half, finding instructional design (ID) and training and development (TD) positions has been challenging for job seekers.

Consider entering the public sector—specifically, working for the federal government. Federal government employees enjoy better benefits than most private sector employees, including:

  • Job security
  • Liberal vacation and sick leave
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Training opportunities
  • A gold-standard retirement and pension scheme–the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

Your work is likely to be more regulated, and you may encounter more bureaucracy than in a job in the private sector.

Federal Job Growth Predicted

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS) indicates that by 2030, the demand for TD specialists inclusive of federal jobs will grow by 11 percent over current levels—from 328,700 positions in 2020 to 364,200 in 2030.
Arshavskiy BLS Figure1: A Look at Training Development Specialists
That’s a better growth rate than some popular (high-paying) roles. And the federal government is uniquely positioned to address challenges in areas such as defense, national security, international affairs, environmental protection, and healthcare—areas the private sector is often unequipped to handle—which translates to greater ID and TD opportunities.

Recent BLS data also indicates that TD specialists in some federal departments earn more than their private sector peers:

Arshavskiy BLS Figure2 Top Paying Industries

Finding Your Target Position

How to locate an ID or TD job in the federal government:

  • Check USAJobs, the federal government’s official jobs site. There’s an eight-step process that begins with creating your profile.
  • Post on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MyOpportunity, MeetUp, or Slack. Connect with individuals within your target federal government program or “influencers” who might assist you in your search.
  • If you already work for the federal, state, or local government, join GovLoop to extend your network. Using these informal connections to learn more about an opening and how best to present yourself gives you a leg-up over competing applicants.


Editing Your Resume

Once you learn about an ID or TD job in the government, review the vacancy announcement, especially the job qualifications and requirements. The application management system automatically chooses which responses move to the human review phase. It’s vital, therefore, to tailor your responses, using keywords, acronyms, terms, and abbreviations explicitly listed in the job posting.

Pay special attention to eligibility criteria and conditions of employment. For example, some jobs may require you to be a US citizen, undergo a background check, or agree to a strict probationary period.

Your resume must demonstrate that you meet the experience requirements and qualifications of the job. Critical components include:

  • Start/end dates of relevant experience
  • Hours put in each week
  • Your position and role on the team (manager, lead, subject matter expert)
  • Examples of duties performed and accomplishments

Your resume is your application. So, customize your resume for each position, and be as succinct as possible, providing only information to the job opening.

While requirements for particular ID and TD jobs vary, you typically need:

  • Familiarity with adult learning theories, including frameworks such as SAM and ADDIE
  • Proven TD or ID experience
  • Experience with popular e-learning development and authoring tools—ideally, those used by the department or program you apply to
  • In-depth knowledge of applicable technical standards, including Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), Experience API or Tin Can API, and Reusable Learning Objects (RLO)
  • Familiarity with regulatory and governance frameworks, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Some project management, as well as LMS management and administration experience

Having powerful verbal and written communication skills and demonstrable soft skills—people skills, facilitation, time management, leadership, independence, and industry networks—is a plus.

Timeline Idiosyncrasies

Compared to most private jobs, federal positions may be open to applicants for a relatively shorter period, but some openings might be posted more frequently. The application and selection process might also be more protracted than the private sector. However, some non-compete positions—for veterans or disabled veterans—may have expedited timelines.

Check online vacancies frequently, and apply quickly, within specified deadlines.

Find Your Place in the Public Sector

There’s a high bar for entering the federal government as a ID or TD resource or specialist—and lots of competition. But getting that job isn’t impossible. Ensure you meet all the requirements in the job post and follow the application process precisely. Consult online federal government resources to compile your resume, provide educational and work experiences, and format and upload your resume for the job. Once you’ve submitted your application, stay on top of things by monitoring and tracking the status of your application.

About the Author

Marina Arshavskiy is the owner of Your ELearning World and a multi-award-winning instructional design and e-learning expert. Marina has spent more than 15 years in the training and learning industry working with corporations, government agencies, and private clients.

Marina holds a master’s degree in instructional systems design from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is also a Kirkpatrick’s Bronze Level Certified Training and Evaluation Professional. In 2021, Marina received the “Top 100 Leaders in Education” award for significant contributions towards the field of education at GFEL.

Throughout her career, Marina has been writing for various eLearning magazines and publications and has been featured in T&D magazine, ELearning Industry, Training Magazine, California Management Review,, SHRM, and more. She is the author of the bestselling Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book and created a complete companion program for instructional design and e-learning professionals.

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