USA Jobs is a pain in the BEEEEEEEEEP....

I figured I would just come right out and say that so that anyone who is not already familiar with the site will have a better appreciation for what I am talking about.   While USA Jobs is annoying and frankly aggravating to use it is better than the alternative of having search individual agency site for their openings.  Anyone of who has or is doing serious amounts of job searching knows how hard it can be to find a position that you are qaulified for.

USA Jobs is a lot like other search engines in that is has a general job search engine right when you open it up.  The problem with this type of engine is that is will bring up all the matches to either the keyword you enter or the location you enter.  This could bring up anywhere from nothing to literally 50 pages of jobs that will either be out of your reach because of the qualifications or simply not even related to your field.

This is where the advanced search function comes in and compared to a lot of job sites the one on USA Jobs can be very easy to use once you learn some of the lingo and a couple of the tricks I will be showing you here. Advanced Seach

Terms to Know

Pay Grade (GS)-  This is a scale from ranging GS 1-GS 15.  The numbers indicate the level of experience/eduction requirements needed for the job.  There are a few GS benchmarks that will help you narrow your searches using this criteria.

GS 1,2,3- You are still in or fresh out of high school and you may or may not know jack didly about how to do the job.

GS 5- You have obtained a bachelors degree in your field.

GS-9 You have a Master's degree in your field

GS-11 You have a PhD in your field.

There will be  gradations between each benchmark which is where field experience begins to play its part. 

Job Series- The jobs on the site are divided up into series which attempt to categorize types of jobs under one number.  For example the Natural Resources and Biological Sciences series number is 0400.  A complete list of these series numbers can be found at the Office of Personal Management website.


Tricks for using the Advanced Search Effectively

If you are just doing a general search for work and don't care where you end up in the country then there are only four options on the advanced search menu to toy with.

  1. Pay Grade (GS)
  2. Job Series
  3. Type of Work
  4. Work Schedule

When choosing a pay grade range try to stick close to your education benchmark that I described above.  For example if you only have a Bachelor's degree you should select a range anywhere from a GS 2-GS 5.  I have found it better to hedge your bets on the lower side of the range rather than the higher because you are more likely to be better qualified for those positions.  The exception to this guideline would be if you have a least a year of full-time experience in the field.  If you do then you can be a little more comfortable pushing the range up to GS 6 or GS 7.

By putting a job series number in you can easily exclude 99% of the unsuitable jobs that would normally pop up.  It saves a lot of headache, time and frustration when you are not shifting through a sea of jobs that have nothing to do with your field. 

Types of work is fairly self-explanatory category that gives you the option to pick whether you are looking for permanent, seasonal or term positions.  A word of caution in this section is don't get hung up on the idea of getting that permanent job, or I am only qualified for seasonal jobs.  You never really know what an employer may think of your application and options are always good so feel free to pick two or three types of work.

Finally we have the work schedule section.  Again this one is fairly self-explanatory in its use but I urge you again to not get caught in the full-time/part-time question.  Select several options just to see what is out there.

Once you have all of those sections filled out to your satisfaction all you have left to do is click search and see what comes up.  By utilizing these few tricks it will greatly improve your chances of finding suitable jobs and getting applications out there.

Good Luck on your job hunt.