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Friday, January 29, 2010

Using the USAJobs Website

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has redesigned the federal job posting website,, in the hopes of making the site more user-friendly. Changes to the site include more flexibility in refining job search results and updates on the status of a candidate's application. There is also a new search page for student job seekers.

Graduates and students interested in post-graduate employment with the US government should always use USAJobs to find opportunities. To find law related positions, begin with an advanced search and search by series number. The GS-09 series includes all general legal positions including General Attorney (GS-0905), Employee Benefits Law (GS-0958), and Tax Law Specialist (GS-0987). However, candidates should not limit themselves to the general legal series listings when searching for attorney and JD-preferred positions. The GS-12 series includes attorney work in the copyright, patent, and trademark field; and the GS-18 series lists positions in investigation such as FBI Special Agents (GS-1811). A complete list of federal occupation groups by number is available in the USAJobs Info Center.

For a tutorial on how to search and apply for positions on USAJobs visit the site's Info Center and click on "Using USAJobs".

For further reading:
OPM relaunches revamped Government Executive Tips Making the Difference
2009-2010 Federal Legal Opportunities Guide

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Politics and Your Resume

In a recent letter to the Ethicist in the New York Times, a hiring attorney asked if it was ethical to reject law student internship applications based solely on their membership to the Federalist Society. While the columnist responded that it is not ethical to reject a job candidate based solely on their politics, the attorney ultimately decided to remove the Federalist Society members from the pool of equally qualified job seekers. Organizations such as the Federalist Society, the National Lawyer's Guild, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) can cause extreme reactions in people. Hiring organizations may also judge a job seeker if they worked for a particular candidate on a political campaign. While one hopes that most employers would not reject a candidate based solely on politics, job seekers should always remember that there is that possibility when listing a political affiliation or membership to a potentially divisive organization on their resume.

The decision to include or omit certain political activities from a resume is ultimately up to the job seeker and there are valid arguments to each side. Many candidates decide to keep their political affiliations on their resume because they either prefer to work for an organization that supports their beliefs or would rather work for an employer that would not judge employees based on politics. Others decide to remove any hint of politics from their application because they would prefer politics not distract the employer from their other experience and skills. When deciding how to proceed, all candidates should ask themselves one question: Would I be comfortable discussing this activity during an interview? If you decide to include memberships to controversial organizations on your resume, be prepared for the possibility of having your beliefs challenged during an interview. If you are not comfortable discussing politics during a job interview, you may want to remove any political activities from your resume.

For further reading:
"How Public Should Your Politics Be?" Student Lawyer. February 2009, Vol. 37, No. 6
"The Ethicist: Taking on Unlikables." New York Times. 4 December. 2009
"Hiring Lawyer Rejects Federalist Society Members - and Columnist's Advice." ABA Journal. 7 December. 2009

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New PSLawNet Blog

PSLawNet, the on-line resource for public service legal careers, has a new blog for public interest-minded law students and attorneys. Blog topics will include legal news concerning the public interest job market, guest columns, and updates on resources for job seekers. Current blog posts include:

- Dealing with the Debt Burden as a Public Interest Law Student
- How to Prep for "Stress Interviews"
- 5 New Year's Resolutions for your 2010 Summer Job Search

Subscribe to the PSLawNet Blog RSS feed to stay up to date on the latest developments within the public interest community and to gain useful job search advice for a career in public service.

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