Returning to federal work


Q: I was an attorney for the Justice Department from 1998 to 2001, and then an attorney at IRS from 2001 to 2005. Then I quit the government, quit practicing law and completely changed careers. Here, five years later, I’m considering looking at federal employment again.

My questions are:
1. What exactly is career status?
2. Do I have it?
3. Does it matter?
4. Does it apply even if I’m applying for a job that has little at all to do with my former career?

A: In the federal government, anyone who is hired into a career-conditional position in the competitive service and completes three years of service with successful performance ratings is a career employee. You can find out if you were in the career service by looking at line 34 on one of your Standard Form 50s to see if box 1, Competitive Service, is checked. If box 2 is checked you were in the Excepted Service.
If you were in the competitive service and reach career status, that means you have permanent reemployment status and can be reemployed without further examination. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to meet the qualification requirements of the job for which you are applying. You will have to meet those, not only for the occupation but for the grade level you are seeking.

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