Like so many presidents before him, Donald Trump has promised to streamline government, in part by trimming the federal workforce. But there are good reasons to believe that Uncle Sam will continue to create great jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans each year:
- In his 2019 budget, the president calls for funding increases – in Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Commerce – that will raise headcounts.
- For the remainder of the year after the 90-day hiring freeze last winter, the government hired at about the same rate as in 2016 and 2015 under President Barack Obama.
- More than one-quarter of federal workers – nearly 550,000 of them – are 55 or older, the Office of Personnel Management reported in September. Tens of thousands of these baby boomers will retire each year.
New innovations for recruiting and re-skilling of future federal workforce
The president’s budget even calls for a pool of $50 million to develop innovations in recruiting, retention and re-skilling for the future federal workforce.
Where the federal jobs will be
Now let’s dig in and learn where the jobs will be in the fiscal year that begins this July 1.
- For Defense, the president is asking for a 14 percent increase over fiscal year 2017, to boost troop levels, add battleships and modernize equipment.
- For Homeland Security, the proposed hike is $3.6 billion, to continue hiring border agents, among other priorities.
- For Veterans Affairs, an $8.7 billion bump would help in the recruitment of medical personnel.
- For Commerce, a 6.1 percent increase would in part be allocated to hire staff and managers for the 2020 census.
Cutting budgets for some agencies
On the flip side, Trump wants to cut the budgets of these agencies and departments: State, EPA, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Small Business Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, Labor, Agriculture and Transportation.
But even as their headcounts are reduced, these entities likely will do some hiring; competition for these vacancies will be intense.
Modernizing federal employment
The president also would like to change the terms of federal employment to better align with the needs of a 21st century government. For one, he proposes to implement performance-based pay for employees in mission-critical operations.
And where jobs are cut, “current employees can shift from legacy positions into emerging fields in which the government faces shortages, including data analysis, cybersecurity and other IT disciplines,” the budget states.
In departments where there are critical personnel shortages, the administration would implement expedited hiring, as it is already doing at Veterans Affairs.
But whether you’re seeking a federal career, or you’re a federal employee looking to move up to a higher grade level, you should expect to meet tough competition – and be prepared to excel in the federal application process.
Tips for clearing the hurdles to your federal job
Unlike a private-sector resume, your federal resume must be very detailed, and probably three to five pages long. In the resume, your skills must be expressed using keywords that match the “one year specialized experience” described in the job posting on USAJOBS.gov. You must also include professional accomplishments that prove your specialized experience and KSAs – knowledge, skills and abilities.
Despite Trump’s promise throughout the campaign and the opening weeks of his administration to drastically reduce the federal workforce, and a memorandum calling on all agencies to develop plans to immediately shed employees, the president has made less progress to that end than many of his recent predecessors. Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton all cut more civil servants during their their first year in office than Trump did. Federal agencies in both President George W. Bush and Obama’s first years in office beefed up their staffs, adding nearly 125,000 jobs in Obama’s first year.