What You Need to Know About Jobs in the Trump Administration at 117 Days

TODAY’S UPDATE: According to the latest news reports, only about 100 of the 557 top appointments have been made. Considering all presidential appointments at all levels, at least 2,000 remain to be made.

Legions of professionals would like to work in the federal Senior Executive Service or as one of thousands of appointees of President Donald Trump, as enumerated in the 2016 Plum Book. But with such a precedent-busting new administration – from that fact that Trump has never before served in government, to his very strong views on the worth of individual federal departments – it’s hard to get your bearings in the landscape of hiring for high-level federal jobs. Here’s our brief take.

Political appointments are one of any new president’s most challenging tasks in the first year.

“Making 5,000 appointments takes a while, because Trump doesn’t have a history in government,” says Betsy Myers, who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration as founding director of the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. “Where does he pull people from?” We do know that personal loyalty is unusually important to the new president, so proof of active support in the 2016 campaign or via another allegiance to the man, his family or the Trump Organization could give a big boost to your resume for an appointed position.

Appointees must align with the president’s agenda.

As with any president, demonstrated belief in what Trump wants to do with his power is another key to success in applying for an appointment. “If you choose to work for Donald Trump, you have to believe in most of what he’s trying to do,” says Myers, author of Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You. To date, the Trump administration has lacked transparency and has made a number of dramatic changes in policy direction, so it’s important to keep up to date with whatever statements the White House has made most recently regarding your area of interest. That means researching reports on traditional and alternative news media, checking Whitehouse.gov and perhaps following the president’s tweets.

UPDATE YOUR RESUME: But, for right now, many agencies are filling some or all of their vacancies. And, prospective applicants should jump on the opportunity to REASSESS AND PRESENT THEIR KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES so they can be viable candidates for these positions.

Trump’s slow start leaves many opportunities open.

A good piece of news for job seekers is that the slow pace of presidential appointments and confirmations leaves open numerous important jobs in various cabinet departments at many levels of these organizations. “In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, 71 nominations were submitted and 27 confirmed,” says Mallory Barg Bulman, vice president of research and evaluation at the Partnership for Public Service. “At 100 days President Obama had made 190 nominations; George W. Bush had made 85.” But make no mistake: your federal resume should be written and polished right now so you’re ready to submit as soon as new federal vacancies are announced.

In the Senior Executive Service, massive retirements loom.

Most members of the Senior Executive Service are career employees, but hundreds are appointees, and large numbers of these jobs are expected to be vacated within Trump’s current term. “At the Social Security Administration, 46 percent of employees are now eligible to retire,” says Bulman. “At the Department of Justice 67 percent will be eligible to retire in the next three years.” We can help you write up Executive Core Qualifications that will let you put your best foot forward for a job with the SES.

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