Terms You Should Know

Similar to military culture, federal employment comes with a new set of terms to understand.

Competitive Positions: Most civil service jobs fall under this category. Competitive jobs must be filled through a fair, open, and merit-based process. The competitive examination, which is open to all applicants, may consist of a written test, an evaluation of an applicant's education and experience, and/or an evaluation of other attributes necessary for successful performance in the position to be filled.
 
Competitive Status:
A person's basic eligibility for assignment (for example, by transfer, promotion, reassignment, demotion, or reinstatement) to a position in the competitive service without having to compete with members of the general public in an open competitive examination. Once acquired, status belongs to the individual, not to the position.
 
General Schedule: The general pay scale system for white collar jobs in the federal government. Positions are identified by GS level from GS 1 to GS 15
 
KSAs: An acronym for "Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities." An applicant's qualifications for a position are often determined with reference to the KSAs that are relevant to successful performance in that position.
 
MSP:
Military Spouse Preference
 
Noncompetitive Positions: A position in the competitive service that is not made by selection from an open competitive examination and that is usually based on current or prior federal service. A noncompetitive action includes (1) all of the types of actions described under inservice placement, (2) appointments of non-federal employees whose public or private enterprise positions are brought into the competitive service, and (3) appointments and conversions to career and career-conditional employment made under special authorities.
 
Preference Eligibility: A veteran, spouse, widow, or mother, who meets the definition provided in 5 U.S.C. §2108. Preference eligibles are entitled to have 5 or 10 points added to their earned score on a civil service examination.

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