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In the current economy, it is easy to become distressed and to think that there are few, if any, opportunities left. The government, however, usually has more than a few jobs to go around if you know how to get them.

Bid or Apply with the Federal Government

With any form of government, there are two basic ways to be employed. You can apply for a permanent position or you can bid on a particular contractor's job. An example of a contractor government job would be roofing a Federal Housing Association (FHA) home. Each year there are thousands of homes built for low-income families that qualify for an FHA home loan. Contractors who have bid on the jobs build these homes. These jobs go to the lowest bidder with consideration given to past performance and experience. The important thing to remember about bidding on these homes is that the federal government is strict on building to code. Therefore, if you are a contractor with many code violations you will be unlikely candidate.

Invitations for bids (IFBs) are advertised in various places, such as FedBizOpps and other sites, as well as at local offices. The bids will be sealed until the time of bidding has ended. The award will go to the contractor with the lowest bid who is the most responsive and responsible. In other words, those who have the financial backing to complete the job and a good number of on-time completions will be most likely to get jobs.

There are many different types of contracted government jobs: work on homes, play grounds, and remodeling of government buildings, just to name a few. This is not the only way in which you can work for the federal government, however.

Federal government jobs include everything from the United States Postal Service (USPS)  to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Some government positions, as you might suspect, require little in the way of training, while others have stringent admission regulations. The FBI is a prime example of the latter condition.

For federal government jobs like the FBI or CIA, there are many educational requirements as well as a lot of experience in law enforcement. For other positions, the experience and educational level can be minimal. The USPS, for example, has testing sites whenever there are enough openings in a state to warrant one. You will need to be organized and able to recognize subtle differences in addresses to successfully complete the testing. You can always check with your local employment agency for possible federal positions locally.

State Government Jobs

Like federal government jobs, state government jobs come in all shapes and sizes. State governments hire contractors, simple labor, and highly specialized labor. We will examine the latter two here. Bid jobs will be similar in scope and sequence to those at the federal level.

Some examples of entry-level or simple labor positions within the state government would be prison guard, janitorial service, cooks, and secretary. Each of these usually requires no more than a high school diploma and maybe a year of relevant experience, while for some positions no experience is necessary. For these entry-level positions, it is merely a matter of applying for the job and passing a background check.

Prison guards are normally hired at the specific prison seeking help. Many times applicants will have to go through a short training session at an approved facility. Starting compensation will be around $20,000 annually; this of course will depend on your location and the rating of the prison. Maximum-security prisons will likely pay more, but will also require more-extensive training and experience.

Higher-end positions such as a director of services for the aging or disabled will warrant a higher annual salary. Starting range can be six figures; however, a master's degree in a related field and several years in human services will be required. Again, background checks will be mandatory.


Working in a government job either at the federal or state level is not as complicated as you may have imagined. Their employees are people just like you, who simply work for the government. The key to government jobs is knowing where to apply and how.

Government jobs are not necessarily hard to get or perform if you follow a few simple tips:
  • Find the correct Web site or physical location to submit your application. This will vary depending on the branch of government you wish to work for and what level—federal or state.
  • When bidding on jobs, be sure that you have all of your financing in order. You do not want to win the bid then lose it due to funding. Also pay close attention to codes once you have the job; do well on the first job and there will be more to come.
  • Pay close attention to all application details: cross all your T's, etc. Many government jobs go to others because an applicant made mistakes on the application.
  • Tailor your resume to every government job you apply for. Governments may use the Resumix to search for keywords that pertain to the position. Do not have your resume overlooked because of poor wording.
  • Be prepared to wait. We all know that the government, on any level, moves at a snail's pace, and job applications are no different. Much of this is also due to the extreme volume of applications each position receives.
Working in a government job can be exciting and fulfilling on many levels. Do not be intimidated by the process. Get out and put in your applications or bids today. You may be surprised to find yourself in a government job.
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