04 November 2010

Vacancies (2 of 3): NOAA-NWS Water Resources Program Manager

This vacancy announcement also came across my inbox recently:
NOAA National Weather Service (NWS)
Hydrology and Climate Services Division
Water Resources Program Manager (GS-1301-13)
Western Region Headquarters
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Closing Date
10 November 2010
The incumbent (the person hired, for those of us who don't speak bureaucrat-ese, which seems the opposite of the definition in politician-ese) will serve as an expert water adviser in water resources and provides programmatic management and support in building capacity for water resources activities in the hydrologic service areas (HSAs) and River Forecast Centers (RFC) in the Western Region (WR). This includes:
  • Responsibility for the overall management of the Water Resources Program in the WR;
  • Responsibility for development of policy recommendations for the operation of the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) and RFC Water Resources Program;
  • Service as a technical advisor on matters involving the integration, use, and enhancement of water resources activities in the WR;
  • Interacts with the Hydrology Program Manager and the Climate Services Program Manager in intersecting areas of water resources with the Hydrology and Climate Services Programs;
  • Assists in pilot projects involving the IWRSS (Integrated Water Resources Science and Services) in the WR.
The scored occupational questionnaire will evaluate you on the following competencies:
  1. Knowledge of the Water Resources and Hydrologic & Climate Services Programs;
  2. Skills in program management methods and techniques;
  3. Knowledge of theoretical and applied hydrological/hydraulic and climate sciences as applied to operational hydrological forecasting;
  4. Ability to plan, organize, and direct work methods and procedures;
  5. Ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
If you are already a federal ("status") employee, you can find the position announcement on USAJobs as listing NWS-WR-2010-0021.

If you are not already a federal employee and want to apply, you'd better have a strong CV; it's tough to get into a fed job from the outside, especially at grade 13. Even though you're applying as an outsider, the announcement is still (for some reason, and like most) written such that you need to demonstrate your education and year(s) of specialized experience at the GS-12 level or equivalent, which requires demonstration of your education and year(s) of specialized experience at the GS-11 level or equivalent, ad infinitum. At some point, your degree does count for something, but that's usually just the baseline for your evaluation. If I have interpreted correctly from my recent efforts, a Ph.D. (or two M.S. in relevant areas, as I have) is around the level of a GS-11, but it depends on which agency you're trying to join--each agency writes their own announcements, and the general federal guidelines for qualifications are the minimum requirements. If you've just completed a post-doc position, which you didn't get without a Ph.D. no matter how many M.S. and years of experience you have, that might get you into federal service at GS-12. If you have management experience--say, as a tenured professor with a successful research program, which you probably didn't get without doing a post-doc and now probably wouldn't want to leave anyway--that might get you in at GS-13. It is a bureaucracy, after all, and in a highly technical agency, and NOAA seems to take good care of their own. If you have qualifications at that level, you can find the announcement on USAJobs as listing NWS-WR-2011-0020, and I certainly wish you good luck!


Delbert Grady said...

I've seen only one case of someone off the street being selected for a GS-13 position. However, jobs at DC are the exception.

In my own case, I hired on at the GS-09 level in 1980. GS-12 came in 1983/4. This is typical. Come into the system at a lower level. Take several years to learn the profession and understand the organization. Bid on jobs at the higher grades.

The trend now is to hire students part time under the SCEP and STEP programs. They learn while at school and on the job. It has been a good program in the sense of giving the individual time to grow both in skills and knowledge.

Applying for a good federal job is an art-form. The trick is to closely read the announcement and look at the job requirements and description. Target your application for the announcement. Do not submit a 'generalized' summary of your knowledge/skills. The first level your application lands at is within the HR section. There, someone looks over your application and scores it to a rating sheet. The HR rater knows squat about the job. They peruse multiple applications and rate them on the 'wording'. In other words, the one page summary on a Resume will not score well for you.

After the application passes the HR's raters, you have been 'qualified' to be rated by a committee of people that know the profession. Pass their review and your application becomes 'highly qualified'. At this level, you will probably get an interview.

I love this part of the process. As an interviewer, I know what the applicant has claimed on his application. It is not uncommon to ask an applicant to followup on comments that they have made in the application. The answers we get can be very different to the experience claimed on the form.

When we do make a selection, we assume that the applicant has the minimum qualifications. We also look for an applicant's versatility in learning new things and handling non standard situations.

The best education actually does happen on the job.


M. Garcia said...

Great insider info and advice, Delbert -- thanks for commenting!