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Q: I received an email from USAJobs that said I met the qualifications of the position and will be moving onto the next step of the hiring process. What does this mean?

A: Congratulations! This means you've made it over the first hurdle of the hiring process and now your resume will be subjected to a secondary review where your resume is analyzed to see if you fit within the duties and qualifications of the position, along with the skills and core competencies covered in the vacancy questionnaire. Whenever you review a job announcement, you'll notice the position is looking for you to have a certain amount of experience, either at a required pay band/GS level or experience with certain types of skills. Sometimes you are allowed to use Education or a combination of Education and experience to meet the qualifications. Meeting the qualifications of the position means you satisfied those requirements and your resume will be passed on for further review. This is a crucial step; the resume reviewers won't review resumes of people who don't meet the basic requirements, so make sure you meet these qualifications before you apply.

How to Approach the Job Announcement's Vacancy Questionnaire

Have you ever opened the job announcement for a Federal position, read over the requirements for the job and then opened the vacancy questionnaire, only to be completely confused on how to answer it?

Have you wondered why the questionnaire is so important? Here are some tips to help you approach and answer the questionnaire in a way to maximize your chances of being referred to the Best Qualified List.

Compare your skills to the skills and core competencies listed in the questionnaire.

The purpose of the questionnaire is to see if you have the skills the agency's looking for in the person they hire for the position. They want to get a true measure of what skills you actually have experience with. You'll want to really think through the skills you possess or have utilized so you can accurately answer the questions.

Make sure you can back up your responses.

Whatever answer you provide for the questions, you must actually have done that skill at the level you select. It can be tempting to want to answer with the highest level of experience for each question because you want the resume reviewer to look at you highly. The problem is that the reviewer will be able to tell you don't have the experience you say you have. This is going to hurt your chances of success far more than being honest about the level of experience you do have.

On the flip side, you also want to make sure you give yourself enough credit for what you've done. Even if you've only done a task that's asked about a few times in the past or you do this task irregularly, if you can answer "yes" or can select a higher level of experience, go ahead and do so. Don't be afraid to "toot your own horn" if you can back it up! This is not the place to leave out relevant experience.

Your answers must be reflected in your resume.

This is the most important point regarding the vacancy questionnaire. All of your answers must also be reflected in the body of your resume. You'll also notice that the vacancy questionnaire even asks where the relevant experience can be found in your resume. It's easy to say you have a certain level of experience, but if the resume reviewer doesn't see this experience in your resume, they won't be able to give you the credit you deserve. Make sure you talk about the relevant experience, the background of the experience, or the exact type of experience you have. Along with the duties and qualifications sections of the job announcement, the vacancy questionnaire is one of the most important sections of the job announcement that must be addressed in your resume. Make sure you do this fully in order to get credit.

The vacancy questionnaire is one of the most important parts of the job announcement, so approach it correctly, and you can really maximize your chances of success.