Hiring surge to employ thousands

By April Rowden: Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — With contractor-to-civilian conversions, new organizations standing up and overall increases in civilian positions, the Air Force civil service continues to grow as officials look to employ thousands of U.S. citizens.

Air Force Personnel Center officials have filled more than 3,000 new positions since the surge began earlier this year and is expected to advertise more than 17,000 additional new positions by the end of 2011 on USAJOBS.

USAJOBS is an online repository used by multiple federal agencies to announce job vacancies around the world.

“These career opportunities cover a broad spectrum of skill sets necessary to support national defense and Air Force objectives, from information technology specialists and aircraft simulator instructors to housing management assistants and biological scientists,” said Michelle LoweSolis, the civilian force integration director at AFPC. “The importance of our civilian workforce cannot be overstated, nor our desire to get the best qualified people into these positions.”

To guide individuals through the Air Force application process, the AFPC Civilian Employment website contains various resources to include tutorials, salary information, eligibility criteria, and the hiring authorities for special populations, such as military spouses, people with disabilities, students and veterans.

In November 2009, President Barack Obama announced the Veterans Employment Initiative, an initiative that “underscores to federal agencies the importance of recruiting and training veterans” who have valuable knowledge and technical skills.

The combination of the employment initiative and the hiring surge gives transitioning airmen impacted by force management an opportunity to be considered for federal employment.

When applying for federal jobs, veterans have three hiring authorities for which they may be eligible: Veterans’ Employment Opportunity Act of 1998, Veterans Recruitment Appointment and 30 percent or more disabled.

An individual who is eligible for veterans preference; or who separates after three or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions is generally eligible for consideration under VEOA.

Any disabled veteran; a veteran who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war declared by Congress, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; a veteran who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a military operation for which the Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded; or a veteran separated from active duty within the last three years may be eligible for consideration under the VRA.

Veterans retired from active-military service with a disability rating of 30 percent or more; or veterans who have been rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs since 1991 or later, to include disability determinations from a branch of the Armed Forces at any time, as having a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more may be eligible for consideration under a special appointing authority for 30 percent or more disabled veterans.

“My veteran status didn’t guarantee me a job with the Air Force,” said Tony Garton, a program analyst at AFPC, was hired in 2002 under VEOA. “But it did help put my resume in the hands of the hiring official, so at least I had the opportunity to be considered for a federal job.”

Family members may also be eligible for certain hiring authorities, including:

• A spouse of a servicemembers who has received permanent change of orders to relocate

• A spouse of servicemembers who retired with a disability rating at the time of retirement of 100 percent, or retired/separated from the Air Force and has a disability rating of 100 percent from the Department of Veterans Affairs

• Un-remarried widows or widowers of servicemembers killed while in active-duty status

• Certain family members returning to the U.S. from an overseas assignment in which they were a dependent

• Local Airman and Family Readiness Center officials can provide family members and airmen transitioning out of active-duty service with additional assistance on using USAJOBS, writing resumes and locating career fairs

For more information on hiring authorities, visit AFPC’s Civilian Employment website. Air Force employees may also call the 24-hour Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102.