A Deeper Look at the Government Hiring Process: The Employment History Section


Ever wonder why government agencies require that you complete an “employment history” section in your job application instead of just allowing you to copy and paste your resume?

In the public sector, the selection process follows strict guidelines that ensure the entire process is merit-based. That means every applicant is treated in the same way. Whereas you could randomly pick and select a few applications to screen and interview in the private sector and trash the rest of the resumes, in the public sector, ALL applications must be reviewed thoroughly. In addition, those that are found not to be qualified are NOTIFIED and given a SECOND CHANCE to submit information and documentation that demonstrates they do in fact meet the Minimum Qualifications for the job.

The Employment History (where you enter the details of all the jobs you’ve held) is carefully screened to identify whether you possess the required skills, licenses, experiences, or educational background needed by the position you applied to. When you submit this, the dates of each job experience is calculated by the analyst and even if you’re 15 days short of the required experience, you will not be admitted to the applicant pool that moves forward in the selection process.

A few things to keep in mind when completing the employment history:

  1. Ensure the exact dates of employment are accurate. When you get to be the final candidate and they’re ready to make an offer, the government agency may conduct an employment and education verification which means they will call up your employer to ensure what you listed is true. If you miss the minimum qualifications by even a few days, you will not be extended that job offer. So instead of just guessing the date you were hired and separated, pull out those old paystubs and ensure you have the right dates listed on your application.
  2. Do not write: “See Resume” in each job description. When applicants write “see resume” and leave the employment history section blank, it tells the analyst they weren’t serious about the job they applied for. While some personnel analysts may look at the resume to see if the applicant has the required qualifications, MOST analysts will reject the application and at that point you’ll have to jump through hoops to get a second chance.
  3. Define your job duties as relevant to the job you applied to. Many of the applications I’ve seen fail to mention how their prior experience makes them a good candidate for the position they applied to. They just copy and paste what they listed on a generic resume. I’m often surprised that they would even think they would be considered for the job they applied to when I read what the list as their job duties. The best candidates spend time studying the job description and the qualities the position is looking for in an ideal candidate. Then they’ll go through each job in the employment history and highlight the responsibilities they’ve had that directly link to the qualities the hiring manager is looking for. This practice not only ensures you get through the initial application screening, but that your application will likely make it to the final hiring interview.

The application is your chance to make a good first impression. Take the time to ensure it is the best it can be.

2 thoughts on “A Deeper Look at the Government Hiring Process: The Employment History Section”

  1. Could you recommend a career coach in my area? Or perhaps Ellen can I seek assistance from you? You make valid points and I have a diverse background but, I need coaching from a professional as yourself. I need a credible person.

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