How to Apply For a Federal Job with the CFPB

This is a job announcement on consumerfinance.gov. And this is what happens after you click the Apply button.

What you see first is the same job announcement, now on a second website: USA Jobs dot gov. USA Jobs is the bulletin board for federal job announcements.

Every announcement has certain standard sections, but one deserves special attention.

That section is Qualifications Required, and the word “required” is not messing around. If you want your application to clear even the first round of reviews, your personal experience needs to cover everything you see here. More on that in a second.

To actually submit an application, you’ll click one more Apply button, which takes you to a third website: Career Connector. This is the portal where the CFPB takes applications.

Applications go through a series of reviews. The first review determines which applicants are considered minimally qualified. As you apply, remember: reviewers will not make assumptions about what the words you use might mean.

So if the announcement says you need experience with Excel, don’t say you have a finance degree or you’re an expert in Microsoft Office. These answers will. not. work.

Use language similar to what’s in the job announcement to explain that you have the experience it asks for. Why?

Put simply, because federal hiring rules prioritize fairness. If reviewers could interpret what you say, they might insert their own biases, even if accidentally. The rules are designed to prevent this.

If your application demonstrates that you are minimally qualified, it goes to a second review to determine whether you are Best Qualified. One thing to keep in mind is that Best Qualified is the top tier of applicants, not a ranking. It might be one or ten or a hundred people. Whatever the size, it’s the full pool we could hire from.

Best Qualified applications generally then go to the hiring manager for a third review. This is the person who selects which candidates we make job offers to, and this review is when she makes that choice. How long this takes can vary with the applicant pool.

But if you apply, are minimally qualified, are best qualified, and are selected for the position?

Then, congratulations! This is your chance to be part of one of the most interesting and innovative places to work in the federal government.

If you have applied, and you have specific questions about your own application, go back to the announcement on USA Jobs. Use one of the ways listed under Agency Contact Info to get in touch. Make sure you know the Job Announcement Number and Control Number when you do.

Good luck!