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Applying for a job with the federal government...

Career Exploration The Hiring Process The Local Job Market Success on the Job

Question: I want to apply for a federal government job, but I have to write KSAs. What is a KSA? And what should I say? Answer: KSA is short for “Knowledge, Skills and Abilities.” Many federal job leads require them, but not all. KSAs are an exercise in storytelling (nonfiction.) The KSA asks you to describe a situation from your career that shows you have the quality they are seeking. A very common one is “Ability to communicate orally and in writing.” This is your cue to tell a story about a time when you solved a problem using your oral and written communication skills. The formula for success in KSA writing, according to federal résumé guru Kathryn Troutman, is this: CCAR. Context, challenge, action, results. Context: What was the situation like at the beginning? Challenge: What was the problem you wanted to solve? Action: What actions did you take to resolve the problem? Results: What was the successful outcome of your actions? Write one page or less on the topic, including the question at the top of the page. Answer the questions that are asked; don’t make up your own. Never leave a KSA blank; if you do, you will not be considered. Take all the credit you deserve. Don’t be humble. Writing style counts. Spelling and grammar count. Your KSA will be proofread and graded. Be sure to proofread your work, and get someone else to proofread too. Unlike résumés, KSAs usually include the word “I.” Write simply; “I created a program to promote world peace” is better than “The job required that I be tasked with the creation of a program to encourage countries to interact peacefully.” Use the active voice (“I created the program,” not “The program was created by me.”) Write in short paragraphs, about five to ten lines long, that are easy to see and read. Emphasize the outcomes of your actions. If you were promoted, be sure to mention it, along with any awards or honors your success brought you. For more information on KSAs, check out www.résumé-place.com. It has a KSA Builder, and more information than you’ll ever want about how to get a job with the federal government. Is this a lot of work? You bet! Getting a federal job is a long process. It requires a lot of reading and writing, but so do most federal jobs. If you don’t enjoy reading and writing, maybe you don’t really want to be a federal employee. The good news is that everything you need to know to get that federal job is on the vacancy announcement. Read everything, and follow the directions to the letter.   �