General FAQs About Applying
Understanding your eligibility will help you know which jobs you should apply to. There are several different eligibilities in the federal government; we call them ‘hiring paths’.
You can apply to any job, but you may not be eligible for the job if you don’t fall into one of the required hiring paths. If you’re not eligible, then your application will be rejected.
For example, anyone is eligible for jobs that are ‘Open to the public’, as long as you’re a U.S. citizen. If you’re a current federal employee, you’re eligible for jobs that are ‘Open to the public’ and ‘Federal employees’, depending on which service you currently work for.
Look for the This job is open to section in the job announcement to see if you're eligible to apply.
The job announcement may list the following:
- Open to the public
- Federal employees - Competitive service
- Federal employees - Excepted service
- Internal to an agency
- Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL)
- Family of overseas employees
- Individuals with a disability
- Military spouses
- National Guard & Reserves
- Native American and Alaskan Natives
- Peace Corps & AmeriCorps VISTA
- Senior Executives
- Special Authorities
- Recent graduates
Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) is a special hiring authority, which gives eligible Veterans access to positions that otherwise may have only been available to current competitive service employees. In VEOA appointments, preference eligibles and Veterans are not given preference, but they are allowed to compete for job opportunities that are not offered to other external candidates. A VEOA eligible who is selected will be given a career or career-conditional appointment.
VEOA eligibility applies to the following categories of Veterans:
- Preference eligibles
- Service personnel separated after three or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions.
To be eligible for a Veterans Employment Opportunity Act appointment, your latest discharge must be issued under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), and you must be either:
- A preference eligible (defined in title 5 U.S.C. 2108(3)), or
- A veteran who substantially completed 3 or more years of active service. Preference eligible under VEOA includes those family members entitled to derived preference.
The Veterans' Reemployment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA) opens up Merit Promotion announcements to veterans allowing them additional employment opportunities. If you are already a current government employee with competitive status, the VEOA would not apply, and you should indicate your status as a current CBP or other federal employee. VEOA provides veterans outside of the federal civil service the opportunity to compete for jobs that are open to current federal employees. Veterans' preference or 3 or more years of honorable service allows you to apply, but you receive no preference under Merit Promotion procedures.
The job announcement will indicate if there is a limit on the number of duty locations that you can select. When the duty locations are restricted, consider carefully where you would like to receive consideration and only mark the appropriate number as indicated in the announcement and online questionnaire. If you mark more locations than permitted, the system will default to the number allowed and eliminate one or more of your choices. This could cause you to lose a location that you really wanted.
It depends on the announcement. Some announcements may only accept one application per announcement because of a multi-hurdle process, whereas some may accept multiple applications. It is important to note however, when multiple applications are allowed, you will be rated on the responses you provided on the last questionnaire submitted. If the last questionnaire is incomplete, your eligibility and or your rating will be affected. Do not start a questionnaire and submit it when it is partially completed, as this record will override a previous submission. If you are confident you provided all the required information and answered all questions to the best of your ability, then you do not need to submit a second or third questionnaire. If you submitted your documentation along with a previous questionnaire, you do not need to resubmit the same documentation. Your resume and any other supporting documents will stay with your record for that job announcement. Your last questionnaire submission will override the previous one but your documents will remain with the record.
When you apply to a job announcement your application record is assigned a period of eligibility. Typically the period of eligibility is 90 days, although this can vary. Open continuous announcements can have a period of eligibility that lasts six months or even one year. If the period of eligibility is anything other than 90 days, the agency will indicate the period of eligibility in the job announcement. The agency must issue a list of eligible applicants to the hiring official within the period of eligibility, or the applicant pool is no longer current and they must readvertise the position.
If the announcement is still open to receipt of applications, you can make changes. You must complete the questionnaire in its entirety and re-submit. If you only want to submit additional or updated documentation then you can use the fax option. See the How to Apply section of the announcement. If the announcement is closed, you cannot make changes to your application or submit additional documentation.
Job announcements will indicate the need to supply one or more of these types of documents in the How to Apply section.
- Cover letter: A cover letter may be included if there is additional information you wish to express to the hiring authorities that is outside of what is normally included in a resume.
- Transcripts: A transcript is a copy of your permanent academic record from a high school or college. To get a copy, contact the high school and/or college registrar office for instructions. Refer to the job announcement for specific instructions on which transcripts, if any, should be included.
- Other: If there are other additional documents that you wish to pass to hiring authorities, you can attach them under this document type. In addition, some jobs may require specific documents outside of this list such as writing samples, which can be attached using the type of “other”.
- OF-306 Declaration for Federal Employment: The OF-306 is used to determine your acceptability for federal and federal contract employment and your enrollment status in the Government’s Life Insurance program. You may be asked to complete this form at any time during the hiring process. Follow instructions that the agency provides. If you are selected, before you are appointed you will be asked to update your responses on this form and on other materials submitted during the application process and then to re-certify that your answers are true.
- SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action: The SF-50 is a permanent record in your Official Personnel Folder that documents and reports all personnel actions (except mass transfer and mass change actions). It’s the required form of notification for accessions, conversions, and separations, and for corrections and cancellations of those actions. It also details your series, grade, and proves that you worked where you said you worked, as well as when and how much you were paid. All current and former federal employees have an SF-50.
- DD-214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty: The DD-214 is issued to military members upon separation from active service. It contains information about the veteran’s dates of military service and separation. Most veterans and their next-of-kin can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 Report of Separation and other military and medical records through the National Archives Veterans’ Records Service.
- SF 15 Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference: The SF-15 is used by federal agencies and Office of Personnel Management examining offices to adjudicate individuals’ claims for veterans’ preference.
You should upload your documentation, if possible. The upload screen appears at the end of the online questionnaire. When you upload a file, it is scanned for viruses and then is attached directly to your record for this vacancy. If you receive an Upload Successful acknowledgement, your file was received and will attach to your record. If it is not possible for you to upload a document, then the facsimile (or fax) service is offered. Do not upload and then fax the same documents. You may fax documents that you do not have in electronic form, such as transcripts, Veterans Preference documentation, etc. Use the cover page when faxing documentation, or there is no way to associate your fax submission to your record for this vacancy. The Fax Cover Page is located in two places. There is a link under the How to Apply portion of the announcement. Click this link and the page will appear, print it, and fill in the required job announcement ID, SSN, name, and address, and fax it to (478) 757-3144. Make sure to print neatly, and use the same name and SSN that you used when you completed the online questionnaire.
You can also get a copy of the cover page on the upload screen at the end of the online questionnaire. If you scroll down this page, you will see a link for the cover page. If you print the cover page from this link, the required information (job Announcement ID, SSN, Name, and address) is preformatted on the page for you. Send this to the fax number listed. Faxed documents take anywhere from 2-48 hours to attach to your applicant record.
We need your email address to communicate the status of your application.
If the job announcement is still open, follow these instructions. These same steps are outlined in the How to Apply section of the announcement.
- Go to the Office of Personnel Management and log in using the box on the right hand side of the page.
- Click the radio button next to the Job Announcement Identification Number.
- Make sure that all of your documents appear on the table with a status of Processed.
USAJOBS is the official website for federal government jobs and where you’ll find nearly all government job opening announcements. The job announcements contain details about duties, minimum qualifications, salary range and basic benefits.
There are several ways to search for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection position that is right for you. Once you have determined your work priorities, you can sort the open CBP job announcements by job title, location or salary.
The number of positions (openings) varies with each job announcement. When the job announcement is displayed on USAJobs, each location will usually have the number of openings shown beside it. If there is more than one vacancy, it can be displayed as 2, 3, or even 10 positions. Often the words few or many appears instead of an actual number. The agency is not obligated to fill all positions at all advertised locations.
Typically, referral lists are issued within 2 weeks after an announcement closes. Lists are usually generated for each of the grade levels and duty locations advertised. If the job announcement is an Open Continuous type, then referral lists are issued as needed. When a position opens up in a given location, a request is processed and a list of eligible applicants is developed.
Full performance level and promotion potential are terms used to indicate the highest grade level you can obtain in a position without further competition. Once you have reached that grade level and have completed one year of service at that grade, then you must apply and compete with other applicants to receive a promotion to the next higher grade level.
The lowest acceptable grade is the lowest grade that you are willing to accept.
No, you do not have to apply multiple times for the same job announcement. If the announcement has more than one duty location and there is a limit on how many locations you select, it will be noted in the job announcement.
At this time, there is not a feature enabling you to print the questionnaire and your responses. Remember, simply filling out the questionnaire does not mean you have finished the application process. You must click the "Finish" button at the bottom of the last page of the questionnaire then select the "Submit" button.
You should upload your resume if possible. The upload screen appears at the end of the online questionnaire. When you upload a file it is scanned for viruses and then attaches directly to your record for this job announcement. If you receive an Upload Successful acknowledgement, your file was received and will attach to your record. If it is not possible for you to upload your resume, then the facsimile (or fax) service is offered. Use the cover page when faxing documentation or there is no way to associate your fax submission to your record for this vacancy. The Fax Cover Page is located in two places. There is a link under the How to Apply portion of the announcement. Click this link and the page will appear. Print it and fill in the required ID, SSN, name, and address, and fax it to (478) 757-3144. Make sure to print neatly and use the same name and SSN that you used when you completed the online questionnaire. You can also get a copy of the cover page on the upload screen at the end of the online questionnaire. If you scroll down this page you will see a link for the cover page. If you print the cover page from this link the required information (job announcement ID, SSN, Name, and address) is preformatted on the page for you. Send this to the fax number listed. Faxed documents take anywhere from 2-48 hours to attach to your applicant record.
Please note that if you have a USAJobs resume that you built using the resume builder feature, it will not automatically attach to your application. Ensure that your resume contains the required information: Name, address, (email address) current and previous employment, to include the hours worked and dates employed (grade level held if current Federal employee), education, Veterans preference (if applicable), and any other pertinent information.
Time in grade is a requirement for a specified amount of time that an employee must spend in a grade before they are eligible for promotion (5 CFR 300.604).
To support your claim of veterans' preference or VEOA eligibility you must submit a DD-214 form. The DD-214 form shows your length and dates of service and your type of discharge. The dates that you were on active duty determine whether you are entitled to veterans' preference. If you are a veteran who has a service-connected disability, or you are receiving compensation for a service connected disability or you are entitled to derived preference, then you must submit a completed SF-15 along with your DD-214. If you would like additional veterans' preference information visit the section called "Your Veterans' Preference" at the Feds Hire Vets website. The website provides information about general requirements and types of preference.
If hired for a job, you must at least go through a background investigation to make sure you’re reliable, trustworthy, and suitable for the job. The background investigation process starts after you accept a job offer. For more information, visit our Background Investigation Frequently Asked Questions page.