Certs help in applying for Fed jobs?

MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey folks, I am looking hopefully to apply to the Federal govt. in an IT support role this year. I'm just wondering if there are any folks out there who have gone this route and could offer up some experience and advice?

I am planning to finish my MCSA by March or April ( will be sitting 270/271/272 at the end of this month ) and hopefully complete CCNA by June or July. I know that may seem ambitious but I am loathing my current 12 hr solo night shift operations job so I am well motivated. icon_exclaim.gif I already have A+ & Net+.

I'm not an IT neophyte as I have 10+ yrs of IT operations experience ( seven of that was in OS/390, Z/OS mainframe ops w/ a major telecom ) and I also have B.S. in Psychology ( '94 ) and AoS in programming ( '00 ). I'm looking to parlay my experience and the certs mentioned above into a server or network admin job w/ an actual future ( operations is an utterly soul sucking environment ).

I've heard all sorts of stories about how tedious the Federal app process can be so I'm just looking for some insight and suggestions if I'm on the right path w/ these certs? I recently got these books from Amazon:

Amazon.com: The Book of U.S. Government Jobs: Where They Are, What's Available & How to Get One (10th edition) (Book of US Government Jobs) (9780943641263): Dennis V. Damp, Robert A. Juran, Salvatori Concialdi: Books

Amazon.com: Federal Resume Guidebook: Strategies for Writing a Winning Federal Electronic Resume, KSAs, and Essays, 4th Edition (9781593574260): Kathryn K. Troutman: Books

Any constructiv feedback from folks "on the inside" or going the same track would be greatly appreciated!

TIA!

p.s. Currently I live in St. Louis, MO but I grew up in Alexandria, VA ( basically a Washington, D.C. suburb ) and I am totally, totally willing to move back to that area in a heart beat! Unfortunately I don't have a TS/SC clearance or a DoD background though. icon_cry.gif

Comments

  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    I've done quite a bit of ITIL Foundation training for various federal agencies, as well as companies that contract with the government, over the last couple of years.

    In my experience it seems that some agencies are pursuing ITIL best practices and others are not.

    MS
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    eMeS wrote: »
    I've done quite a bit of ITIL Foundation training for various federal agencies, as well as companies that contract with the government, over the last couple of years.

    In my experience it seems that some agencies are pursuing ITIL best practices and others are not.

    MS
    Thanx for the reply. Can you be a bit more specific about the agencies that were pursuing ITIL or other cert tracks?

    Currently I am scoping an opening w/ the Census Bureau as they are supposedly looking to a good bit of hiring throughout this year. Also I've sen a couple of promising openings w/ DIA and Office of the Secretary of the Army ( both non TS to start but must be able to obtain ). I'm getting most of my leads from usajobs.gov
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Thanx for the reply. Can you be a bit more specific about the agencies that were pursuing ITIL or other cert tracks?

    Unfortunately I can't specifically name which agencies or companies that work with the government I've seen pursuing this.
    Currently I am scoping an opening w/ the Census Bureau as they are supposedly looking to a good bit of hiring throughout this year. Also I've sen a couple of promising openings w/ DIA and Office of the Secretary of the Army ( both non TS to start but must be able to obtain ). I'm getting most of my leads from usajobs.gov

    Apologies that I need to be non-specific and give indirect answers. A search of bureau name AND ITIL might return some useful information.

    MS
  • EzliteEzlite Member Posts: 27 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Certs are often required for Govt. positions. I can not qoute the "act" that mandated this but I about 99.99% sure there is one. As I understand it you can get the position without the "cert", but you must complete a relevant cert within 6 months or you get the boot.

    As it has been explained to me - the cert needs to be relevant to the job area. I am not aware of a requirement for a specific version/level certification, that is up to the hiring manager. So even though you may have 10yrs as a "XYZ" you will need at least an entry level certification in that area to remain at a federal govt. position.

    I am sure any of the DC based contracting firms would give you all the details you want. They would also be able to provide you with information on what certs are in high demand in the area.
    TB

    JNCIP-M: Late June 2010
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hey eMeS, I understand, thanx for the info you did give. I may look into doing ITIL down the road.

    Ezlite, yeah I've seen a few places and heard folks already employed by the Fed that they had to get a cert as part of a mandate to stay current. Mostly I've heard it was either Net+ or Sec+ which seems reasonable to me as most of the time I've heard you'd have 6 mos. to get 'er done.

    In terms of hiring though, the stuff I've read seems to be heavily laden w/ qualifying based upon experience, education or a combination of the two. The dreaded "Knowledge, Skills and Abilities" ( KSAs ) questionnaires seem to be all about explaining, in excruciating detail, why your qualified for xyz position based upon your background. Once I get done w/ the MCSA in a few months and read through the Fed app books mentioned above I will probably forward my resume to some recruiters in the DC area.
  • phantasmphantasm Member Posts: 995
    Good luck on the fed route. I'm prior service and have been trying to 8yrs to land a federal job. No go so far. As for certs, my friend is in a position with a federal agency and was told they all needed Sec+ as it would be required soon.
    "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -Heraclitus
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    phantasm wrote: »
    Good luck on the fed route. I'm prior service and have been trying to 8yrs to land a federal job. No go so far. As for certs, my friend is in a position with a federal agency and was told they all needed Sec+ as it would be required soon.

    Where are you applying? I think there's a definite advantage in relocating to the metro D.C. area if Fed work is your focus.

    Also, have looked at any of the books on acquiring a Fed job? It seems one of the major obstacles to "gettin' your foot in the door" is that application process, in particular the initial resume, is totally and all together different than applying for a private sector job.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    Overzealous gov't workers..priceless. Given the sheer number of gov't jobs out there, it's no secret which agencies want which certs..literally, it's not protected information.

    DoD requires Security+ for IAM level I...oops..shouldn't have said that icon_mad.gif

    I have worked with the military for a while now, and having worked in positions that require a keen understanding of OPSEC/MSEC/etc..I just find it funny when people throw on their shades and talk about what they can't say.
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    Overzealous gov't workers..priceless. Given the sheer number of gov't jobs out there, it's no secret which agencies want which certs..literally, it's not protected information.

    DoD requires Security+..oops..shouldn't have said that icon_mad.gif

    I have worked with the military for a while now, and having worked in positions that require a keen understanding of OPSEC/MSEC/etc..I just find it funny when people throw on their shades and talk about what they can't say. Obviously they haven't heard the real conversations that go on over regular phone lines within these agencies. They're much worse.

    Uh . . . okay, thanx.

    I will put Sec+ on the list of "certs to get", however in my research I've noticed that the vast majority of DoD ( and Home Land Security for that matter ) require TS/SCI clearance before you can even be considered and that's not something you can just study up. If you're a career civilian and haven't worked for a defense contractor, you're pretty much sol on that one. The Sec+ thing just seems to be a way of making sure people stay mindful of good IT security practices once they have the job.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Uh . . . okay, thanx.

    I will put Sec+ on the list of "certs to get", however in my research I've noticed that the vast majority of DoD ( and Home Land Security for that matter ) require TS/SCI clearance before you can even be considered and that's not something you can just study up. If you're a career civilian and haven't worked for a defense contractor, you're pretty much sol on that one. The Sec+ thing just seems to be a way of making sure people stay mindful of good IT security practices once they have the job.


    I have noticed the same thing. There are some jobs that will sponsor you to get a clearance but they can be very picky.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    Uh . . . okay, thanx.

    Uh...okay, you're welcome. I wasn't saying "go get the security+ and you'll be good". Infact, that post wasn't aimed at you anyways.

    And yes, I'm very aware of the way gov't agencies hire. Thanks :) ...best of luck in your search.
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    Uh...okay, you're welcome. I wasn't saying "go get the security+ and you'll be good". Infact, that post wasn't aimed at you anyways.

    And yes, I'm very aware of the way gov't agencies hire. Thanks :) ...best of luck in your search.

    Oh I got your meaning and I do appreciate the feedback. icon_wink.gif

    I know Sec+ ( or any other cert for that matter ) won't guarantee a job, but if they're gonna require it at some point it won't hurt to have going on the door!:D

    I do wish there was a way for a civi to get TS/SCI on your own though. It may not make you "golden" per se, but it does seem to make you more "shinny" at least.icon_cry.gif
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    I do wish there was a way for a civi to get TS/SCI on your own though. It may not make you "golden" per se, but it does seem to make you more "shinny" at least.icon_cry.gif

    I completely agree. There's many trustworthy people who work hard and would otherwise be great in a gov't role, but are crippled by the fact they don't have prior military/gov't experience. It's a shame. I do know one guy who got on at my work with no prior experience/clearance..but that's one out of a lot of people. It's definitely possible though.
  • RouteThisWayRouteThisWay Member Posts: 514
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    I completely agree. There's many trustworthy people who work hard and would otherwise be great in a gov't role, but are crippled by the fact they don't have prior military/gov't experience. It's a shame. I do know one guy who got on at my work with no prior experience/clearance..but that's one out of a lot of people. It's definitely possible though.


    I have a TS eq clearance, and I am only 23. No prior govt work, no military experience. The only connection that I have is that my father was career USAF for 20 years.

    But, I was hired on and then they paid for my clearance. However, on the flip side, alot of guys I work with are ex-military or prior govt job holders.

    I just consider myself lucky. icon_cool.gif Although, tbh... I am heavily considering going back to the private industry. Working for the Fed is *not* what it is cracked up to be. There is no profit motive, every year is about justifying your existence and spending your budget. It gets old, fast.
    "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture." ~ Vaclav Havel
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I do wish there was a way for a civi to get TS/SCI on your own though. It may not make you "golden" per se, but it does seem to make you more "shinny" at least.icon_cry.gif

    Find a government contractor and go from there. Many of them will pay for you to get security clearance. My current employer does this, though I am (unfortunately) not on any of those specific projects.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Find a government contractor and go from there. Many of them will pay for you to get security clearance. My current employer does this, though I am (unfortunately) not on any of those specific projects.

    Question, to be hired by this company did you have to demonstrate that you could get a clearance if necessary?

    This is a consideration that's been discussed here before...some people have sufficiently screwed the pooch such that a clearance isn't likely in their future.

    MS
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    eMeS wrote: »
    Question, to be hired by this company did you have to demonstrate that you could get a clearance if necessary?

    This is a consideration that's been discussed here before...some people have sufficiently screwed the pooch such that a clearance isn't likely in their future.

    MS

    How I got this job is just plain crazy. I demonstrated that I could image computers with Ghost icon_lol.gif

    A fellow from their recruitment team was asked to look for someone with those abilities and it has gone from there. If they decided to place me on a sensitive project to support personnel than I would probably end up having to get clearance.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • RouteThisWayRouteThisWay Member Posts: 514
    eMeS wrote: »
    Question, to be hired by this company did you have to demonstrate that you could get a clearance if necessary?

    This is a consideration that's been discussed here before...some people have sufficiently screwed the pooch such that a clearance isn't likely in their future.

    MS

    Yes, you do.

    Before I was even given access to the building, before I had my clearance, a background check was run by the local PD, etc. Also, you are required to fill out a form listing all possible disqualification issues for clearances.

    Sometimes it isn't even legal issues. For instance your credit is checked. If you have poor credit, it is hard to get a clearance. If you have filed for bankruptcy, it is hard to get a clearance. If you have any verifiable addictive issues in the past (such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc), it is hard to get a clearance. These are all deemed as compromising qualities.

    And of course, if you have any criminal history, then you are done for as well. Any felonies? No clearance. Even if you were investigated for a crime but never charged, it can severely limit your chances for a clearance.

    Getting an L or S clearance isn't as tough to get. But if you get a Q or TS, it is much harder. Every single facet of your life in the last 10 years will be examined by many people. Your actions, decisions, motivations, etc will be questioned and scrutinized.

    Ever had to take a lifestyle poly for the SSBI that the TS or Q requires? It is a brutal 4 hours of constant nitpicking into your past. Their job is to flush out any kind of discrepancies in your history that you provided. All while being hooked up to cables, pads, etc that all measure any change in your involuntary body indicators (blood pressure, breathing, etc).

    And just because the SSBI goes back 10 years, doesn't mean your entire life history isn't examined. It just means anyone you ever lived next to, worked for/with, etc for the last 10 years are all subject to interrogation. FBI agents interviewed my old neighbors half way across the country, my current neighbors, a few people at my old job, all my family, all my girlfriends family, etc.

    Your life is entirely open and you have 0 privacy. And if they get any kind of inkling you lied on your paperwork, fudged the truth a bit, "forgot" to mention that run in with the police 8 years ago, etc... no clearance will be granted.

    I didn't work between May of 2005 - Sept of 2005, and I was hammered on that quite a bit. What did I do with my time, who did I spend all that free time with, who can verify all that etc.

    If you have anything that sends off any kind of indicators you may not be able to get a clearance, it will severely hinder your employment opportunities as a Fed or with a Federal contractor that has security sensitive positions, whether you are assigned one of those positions or not.
    "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture." ~ Vaclav Havel
  • jemisonjemison Member Posts: 11 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Find a government contractor and go from there. Many of them will pay for you to get security clearance. My current employer does this, though I am (unfortunately) not on any of those specific projects.

    To add-on to what veritas_libertas said, check out out government contracting. You will more than likely get hired through that sector than the FED. Its all about getting your foot in the door. I am an example, I am currently working overseas as a cable tech, after applying for countless openings for nearly a year. I will also tell you no matter which company you apply for, the bottom line is "who you know." If you can get a referral from a friend who currently works in the company, your chances are much higher in getting hired than the regular person who is going the motions as far as submitting resume and waiting for call-back; sad, but true. There are many mothers, aunts, and uncles who are over here on referrals with no knowledge of their job.

    Sorry for the long message, but I also want to leave you with a tip or two. Whatever you do, do not unless its your last ditch effort, apply for ITT. And if you don't worry about traveling there are interesting jobs at both Raytheon and DRS in Iraq and Afghan. Good hunting
  • SrSysAdminSrSysAdmin Member Posts: 259
    Yes, you do.

    Before I was even given access to the building, before I had my clearance, a background check was run by the local PD, etc. Also, you are required to fill out a form listing all possible disqualification issues for clearances.

    Sometimes it isn't even legal issues. For instance your credit is checked. If you have poor credit, it is hard to get a clearance. If you have filed for bankruptcy, it is hard to get a clearance. If you have any verifiable addictive issues in the past (such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc), it is hard to get a clearance. These are all deemed as compromising qualities.

    And of course, if you have any criminal history, then you are done for as well. Any felonies? No clearance. Even if you were investigated for a crime but never charged, it can severely limit your chances for a clearance.

    Getting an L or S clearance isn't as tough to get. But if you get a Q or TS, it is much harder. Every single facet of your life in the last 10 years will be examined by many people. Your actions, decisions, motivations, etc will be questioned and scrutinized.

    Ever had to take a lifestyle poly for the SSBI that the TS or Q requires? It is a brutal 4 hours of constant nitpicking into your past. Their job is to flush out any kind of discrepancies in your history that you provided. All while being hooked up to cables, pads, etc that all measure any change in your involuntary body indicators (blood pressure, breathing, etc).

    And just because the SSBI goes back 10 years, doesn't mean your entire life history isn't examined. It just means anyone you ever lived next to, worked for/with, etc for the last 10 years are all subject to interrogation. FBI agents interviewed my old neighbors half way across the country, my current neighbors, a few people at my old job, all my family, all my girlfriends family, etc.

    Your life is entirely open and you have 0 privacy. And if they get any kind of inkling you lied on your paperwork, fudged the truth a bit, "forgot" to mention that run in with the police 8 years ago, etc... no clearance will be granted.

    I didn't work between May of 2005 - Sept of 2005, and I was hammered on that quite a bit. What did I do with my time, who did I spend all that free time with, who can verify all that etc.

    If you have anything that sends off any kind of indicators you may not be able to get a clearance, it will severely hinder your employment opportunities as a Fed or with a Federal contractor that has security sensitive positions, whether you are assigned one of those positions or not.


    Getting TS is hardcore but I think you're making it more hardcore than it actually is. I work in the DoD world as well and know exactly what is involved with the process.

    They will definitely look into your past and question anything and everything. However, to say they will interview every neighbor you've had in the past 10 years isn't true. To say that if you have any criminal background you won't get clearance isn't true. To say if you've ever had an addictive personality isn't true.


    As far as contacts go...several of my family members weren't contacted during mine and the same goes with my colleagues.

    As for addictions and criminal background. If those things were far enough in your past as to be considered "mitigated" then you are most certainly still eligible for clearance.

    I don't know why you're trying to scare people about how difficult it is to get clearance but you seem to have made things sound to be a bit grander than they actually are.
    Current Certifications:

    * B.S. in Business Management
    * Sec+ 2008
    * MCSA

    Currently Studying for:
    * 70-293 Maintaining a Server 2003 Network

    Future Plans:

    * 70-294 Planning a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-297 Designing a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-647 Server 2008
    * 70-649 MCSE to MCITP:EA
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    +1 as far as the polygraph craziness. I mistakenly put down a wrong year under my high school graduation, then somehow managed to 'correct' it with yet another mistake. Finally, I fixed it, but by then, they were scratching their heads, and started digging in. Turned out OK, but they will certainly try hard to find something.
  • RouteThisWayRouteThisWay Member Posts: 514
    JrSysAdmin wrote: »
    As far as contacts go...several of my family members weren't contacted during mine and the same goes with my colleagues.

    As for addictions and criminal background. If those things were far enough in your past as to be considered "mitigated" then you are most certainly still eligible for clearance.

    I don't know why you're trying to scare people about how difficult it is to get clearance but you seem to have made things sound to be a bit grander than they actually are.

    YMMV, but every person I listed on my SF86 was contacted. As well as people I did not list.

    A guy I worked with lost his job because his clearance was not granted. He was hired on an interim basis, with a temporary allowance to do his job. He wasn't told why obviously, but the only thing he can think of was he had a DUI in the early 90's. Who knows.

    Not trying to scare off anyone at all. Just realize that there are many factors than can reduce your chances, that may seem petty to you.

    And as the guy above me stated, the poly is no joke. It is pretty intimidating.
    "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture." ~ Vaclav Havel
  • SrSysAdminSrSysAdmin Member Posts: 259
    You said you're 23 though so they didn't look back 10 years for you anyways. It is 10 years in the past or back to you're 16 if I remember correctly.

    You are right that it is very intimidating but don't understand why you had to take a polygraph. Polygraphs are used for TS clearance with a Lifestyle Background Poly, not standard TS.

    I guess we just had different experiences.

    Also, the company I work for told me they've never had to pay a dime for anybody they've gotten certification for. I don't think it's a matter of companies being willing to pay anything in terms of that, more them being willing to pay your salary while your background is investigated.

    I'm not sure what the guy you know did wrong, but if he was completely honest he should have been okay. You can read up on every decision that has been made on clearances (that have gone to adjudication) for more than the past ten years here:
    Industrial Security Clearance Decisions
    Current Certifications:

    * B.S. in Business Management
    * Sec+ 2008
    * MCSA

    Currently Studying for:
    * 70-293 Maintaining a Server 2003 Network

    Future Plans:

    * 70-294 Planning a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-297 Designing a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-647 Server 2008
    * 70-649 MCSE to MCITP:EA
  • RouteThisWayRouteThisWay Member Posts: 514
    JrSysAdmin wrote: »
    You said you're 23 though so they didn't look back 10 years for you anyways. It is 10 years in the past or back to you're 16 if I remember correctly.

    You are right that it is very intimidating but don't understand why you had to take a polygraph. Polygraphs are used for TS clearance with a Lifestyle Background Poly, not standard TS.

    I guess we just had different experiences.

    Also, the company I work for told me they've never had to pay a dime for anybody they've gotten certification for. I don't think it's a matter of companies being willing to pay anything in terms of that, more them being willing to pay your salary while your background is investigated.

    I'm not sure what the guy you know did wrong, but if he was completely honest he should have been okay. You can read up on every decision that has been made on clearances (that have gone to adjudication) for more than the past ten years here:
    Industrial Security Clearance Decisions

    Very cool site, didn't know about that one! Thanks.
    "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture." ~ Vaclav Havel
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    Everyone needs to realize that there's not just one universal TS..each agency grants a clearance based on their own internal practices/standard operating procedure. One agency may require a TS w/ polygraph because that's the kind of position it is, OR, they may take a polygraph in order to be granted an interim..which happened to me. It wasn't "required" for the clearance, just to get an interim and be able to work while the rest of the investigation is completed.
  • SrSysAdminSrSysAdmin Member Posts: 259
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    Everyone needs to realize that there's not just one universal TS..each agency grants a clearance based on their own internal practices/standard operating procedure. One agency may require a TS w/ polygraph because that's the kind of position it is, OR, they may take a polygraph in order to be granted an interim..which happened to me. It wasn't "required" for the clearance, just to get an interim and be able to work while the rest of the investigation is completed.


    What agency is yours with? I was discussing the DoD world and the investigations by OPM.
    Current Certifications:

    * B.S. in Business Management
    * Sec+ 2008
    * MCSA

    Currently Studying for:
    * 70-293 Maintaining a Server 2003 Network

    Future Plans:

    * 70-294 Planning a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-297 Designing a Server 2003 AD
    * 70-647 Server 2008
    * 70-649 MCSE to MCITP:EA
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    JrSysAdmin wrote: »
    What agency is yours with? I was discussing the DoD world and the investigations by OPM.

    DIA. The DIA required a poly for myself to be granted an interim. One of the other agencies would most likely have not required it, it was just a "DIA thing"..it's not necessarily a difference in WHO investigates but WHAT they require to be investigated/carried out..in my case a poly. It was only because of a SNAFU that occured before I got here with my clearance..someone dropped the ball in my old unit.
  • MYSTYKRACERMYSTYKRACER Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Interesting discussion guys, thanx for the feedback. I will definitely look into trying to find a contractor in the areas that I have interest. The books and other research I have been looking have suggested that as a good first step as well.

    Anyone here ever applied to FBI Cyber Crimes or DHS? This is where I'm considering focusing my efforts. I do have a couple of contacts "inside" but not in those areas specifically, one is w/ DoJ and the other is w/ Customs now after starting out w/ the Secret Service. Both of them have Secret clearance I believe and both are willing to give me recommendations.
  • carboncopycarboncopy Member Posts: 259
    ITIL v3 Foundations has been getting super huge lately with government from what I have seen. I recommend going after that cert.
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