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The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 230,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. [Their] duties are wide-ranging, but [their] goal is clear: keeping America safe. (source: www.dhs.gov)

Perhaps you are working for the DHS or interested in working for the DHS. Here is a forum to share your experience with the DHS.

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Finally_Federal  
#1 Posted : Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:42:36 AM(UTC)
Finally_Federal

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Hello,

Hopefully this is the right place to post my question (as opposed to the forum on Federal Career Planning...)
I got hired at the Dept. of the Treasury the end of December and started working the end of January. I was planning to use the position as a foot in the door as it was not something I really wanted to do. Since I was qualified for it and had been trying for many many years to get a job with the Federal government (and had been unemployed for 3 years off and on) I accepted. The position is a GS-5.

I have been interested in a career on an international track since university. I am interested in working for USCIS as an Information Immigration Officer, Immigration Officer or Immigration Services Officer but not many seem to start at GS-5. I have no knowledge of immigration laws, regulations or procedures. How can one get hired for this position without previous knowledge of immigration laws if one has no previous experience? 

I took a test for the ISO test last summer in MD and haven't heard anything since I got my NORs in November. I passed the test but probably was only qualified as I was not called for an interview. 

How often do they post vacancies for these positions at a GS-5?

Not that it matters, but my degree is in political science with a minor in international studies. I also studied Russian for 3 years (but as I have not practiced it for nearly 10 years, I've mostly forgotten all I learned). 

Since I started working for the federal government 6 weeks ago, I've been nothing short of confused and bewildered about how things are done.  Confused Thanks in advance for any advice provided.



jayjay  
#2 Posted : Friday, March 16, 2012 4:15:03 AM(UTC)
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Check out the Immigration Services Officer-ISO exam topic in the forum.  There's lot of info there and some of the topic members have been already hired.  I also took the test this past August and got a good score but I haven't been called not even for an interview.  

stonewall32  
#3 Posted : Friday, March 16, 2012 4:19:56 AM(UTC)
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I took the test last April and got a NOR of 100 and didn't get an interview. Good Luck!
jayjay  
#4 Posted : Friday, March 16, 2012 4:31:27 AM(UTC)
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@ Finally Federal  I forgot to tell that I have also a BA in Political Science plus a JD and I was unemployed for 3 years.  I thought the unemployment gap was holding back the Fed Gov to hire me but it seems like you filled up the gap when they hired you, right? 

violetlightheron  
#5 Posted : Friday, March 16, 2012 2:40:46 PM(UTC)
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My advice would be to apply for anything and everything under the sun that you can apply for. I started out at the Buffalo FO as an ISA with just a degree in international relations and very minimal office-type job experience. An ISA, either at an FO or a Service Center, will give you lots and lots of experience with immigration laws and procedures. My bias would be with an FO since you get, at least in my experience, more experience in adjudicating and processing I130's, 485's, N600, etc etc. Some of my friends who have worked at the St. Albans Service Center have had more exposure to other applications that the FO's don't touch.
Eric  
#6 Posted : Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:14:59 PM(UTC)
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jayjay wrote:
@ Finally Federal I forgot to tell that I have also a BA in Political Science plus a JD and I was unemployed for 3 years. I thought the unemployment gap was holding back the Fed Gov to hire me but it seems like you filled up the gap when they hired you, right?



You have a JD and you were unemployed for 3 years with it? I am actually thinking of getting a JD. Was the degree no help in finding employment, or were you unemployed by choice? Is it doing anything to get you any interviews at least with the feds?Eric2012-03-18 02:21:23
violetlightheron  
#7 Posted : Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:42:30 PM(UTC)
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I think the job market for JD's, especially in this economy, is extremely competitive. I had a buddy of mine graduate with a JD from UW-Madison struggle to find a job because the BigLaw firms hired a much smaller class size than previous years and everybody with a heart beat and a JD was applying for fed/state jobs.
Finally_Federal  
#8 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 12:05:47 AM(UTC)
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions! Violet, I will PM you. 

@JayJay, when I was told I was hired for the current Fed position I have, I was on a 5-6 month temporary assignment with OfficeTeam and had been there about 3 months. I left 1 month later as the Fed position started. 

About 1 year prior, I had been on another temporary assignment that lasted about 4 months as well. So in about 3 years, I had 2 temporary jobs both that were about 4 months long with 1 year gap between them. 

I don't remember thinking the Feds would not hire me because of my gap. Do you only apply for permanent jobs? You may want to apply for seasonal and temporary jobs as well to at least get your foot in the door.
jayjay  
#9 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 12:12:58 AM(UTC)
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No, I wasn't unemployed by choice because I am not rich.  I didn't went to college and Law School to be unemployed.  I live in Puerto Rico and the unemployment rate is much higher than the rest of USA.  Also I didn't pass the bar.  In PR the private industry is all about nepotism and favoritism and with the local government is all about butt kissing and I am not that kind of guy.  Right now I have a part time job in the private sector because one BFF recommended me with her boss. I've been applying for the fed gov for the last 2 yrs. I got really far in the pre-employment process filling paperwork and even direct deposit forms with the IRS but I didn't get hired. It was really frustrating Angry To know more about my pre-employment process with the IRS check out my topic titled CBP Technician here in the DHS forum. http://federalsoup.feder...amp;title=cbp-technician

jayjay  
#10 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 12:19:06 AM(UTC)
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@Finally Federal  thanks for your answer and yes I have had applied to temporary jobs the last one was with the IRS but I didn't get the job. 

Finally_Federal  
#11 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 3:34:24 AM(UTC)
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@Jay Since you have a JD, why are you applying for G-5 jobs?I'm not sure, but maybe you would have more success applying for jobs at a higher level? Are you flexible about moving or are you only applying for jobs in PR?
matts720  
#12 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 4:18:37 AM(UTC)
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Just throwing in my 2 cents here, the job market for JDs is horrible because of the sheer amount of JD holders coming out of law school each year with a finite amount of jobs available (doc review has gotten outsourced a lot in the past few years and a lot of small offices are getting away with offering little to no pay). It's even worse if you're trying to break into the non-legal fields because employers will usually think that you will bail on them to go practice the first chance you get. I dealt with this in both fed and non-fed interviews and basically responded that I worked part-time in a firm while in school and truly hated the cutthroat culture there along with the type A personalities that a lot of attorneys are and would never practice because of it.

@Jay Your JD qualifies you as a GS-9 to start though I understand if you need to get your foot in the door with a position, you can always use IBR to deal with any loans you have.


strangerinma  
#13 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 4:21:51 AM(UTC)
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Starting from the time I completed my Bachelor to the time I completed my Masters, I kept on applying for federal jobs, and finally got one with the USCIS on GS-5 position.  The fact is, even though it is so tough to get a federal job without any experience, but if you can do good in the interview (of course, you first will have to get the invitation for one, which is again really tough), you will get a job at least on the GS-5 level, regardless of the experience as it is the entry level federal position.

My advice will be to keep on applying no matter what the job is, the worst thing they can say is "NO".  And my ultimate suggestion is, if you do get a call for interview, make sure you choose to do it in person, instead of doing a phone or internet interview.  I know it for fact because I got the first interview invitation for the same job I am currently doing, and they did not select me after the phone interview.  But next time I choose to spend some money, flew over to the interview place, and here I am working for the USCIS.


jayjay  
#14 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 4:47:09 AM(UTC)
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@Finally Federal, I've been applying to jobs in both PR and USA from G-5 to G-9 but I haven't had much success.  I've been applying to G-5 for lack of many years of experience and because I need a job.
@matts 720, you are completely right about the legal field in both jobs available and cutthroat  culture. Nailed it!!! Clap
@strangerinma, I've been practicing your advice but sometimes I have to take a break from applying because I get fed up with the SLOW process and frustration of not been hired when I know for a fact that I am a great candidate.

Thanks to all of you for your advice and to let me know that I am not the only one going through a tough time in the job market. Thumbs Up

PS: Right now with my part time job I don't have enough money to fly over for interviews or to relocate


violetlightheron  
#15 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 6:16:04 AM(UTC)
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I second strangerinma's suggestion for interviewing in person, especially at the entry level with no prior government experience. I interviewed in person with my first job with USCIS in Buffalo and got the job over 5 or 6 other people who mostly interviewed over the phone, from what my old boss told me. I think once you get your foot in the door and are working for Uncle Sam for a couple of years, the need to interview in person diminishes, unless you are interviewing for ISO's or SES. I got my current job with the ICE LESC without an interview, they just talked to my Buffalo boss and co-workers to see what kind of work I did and how I got along with others.

Finally_Federal  
#16 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 6:35:47 AM(UTC)
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I'm not sure whether interviewing in person makes a difference and I'm not telling you to disregard violet's or stranger's advice but one of the people I work with asked for a phone interview because she was living down South and being a recent grad, couldn't afford to fly or drive to the Mid-Atlantic area for an interview. She still got the job with only retail experience and didn't have to do an in-person interview either. BTW, I was applying for federal jobs off and on for 10 years since I graduated university and finally was hired. It all seems random to me. I don't know if they even have a method to who they choose -- at least it doesn't seem so. I just feel like when it's your turn, it will be your turn and nothing can interfere with that. I did get tired of the whole process as well and took a while off from applying for Fed jobs too. The application process seems much easier now though. Maybe something to do with Obama's Hiring Reform.  

Keep trying!! Your time will also come :-)
jayjay  
#17 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 8:20:30 AM(UTC)
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Wow!!! Finally Federal you have so much respect from me.  You kept applying on and off for 10 yrs.!!! That's remarkable.Clap

jayjay  
#18 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 8:24:37 AM(UTC)
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You know what guys?  When I receive so much good feedback and advices is when I get motivated to keep applying.  The last time I applied was on November and this week I'll start again.  

Finally_Federal  
#19 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 10:13:33 AM(UTC)
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@Jay, just keep applying. It seems many are beginning to retire. I would think more GS-5 positions will begin to open and one is bound to have your name on it! I wish you the very best of luck!
grieveit  
#20 Posted : Sunday, March 18, 2012 10:21:53 AM(UTC)
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Eric wrote:
jayjay wrote:
@ Finally Federal I forgot to tell that I have also a BA in Political Science plus a JD and I was unemployed for 3 years. I thought the unemployment gap was holding back the Fed Gov to hire me but it seems like you filled up the gap when they hired you, right?



You have a JD and you were unemployed for 3 years with it? I am actually thinking of getting a JD. Was the degree no help in finding employment, or were you unemployed by choice? Is it doing anything to get you any interviews at least with the feds?

The US has 5% of the worlds population and 45% of the worlds attorneys

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