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Look Into Job Opportunities With the Federal Government as an Employee or Contractor

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers two programs to students based on their educational attainment. The Recent Graduates Program is open to “those who have graduated within the past two years from a qualifying educational institution or certificate program,” or, for veterans, whose schooling is interrupted by military service obligation, up to six years following graduation. The Presidential Management Fellowship is open to “recent graduates with an advanced degree — either a professional or graduate degree such as a master’s, Ph.D., or J.D.”

The federal government is actively seeking qualified individuals with disabilities to fill job vacancies at all levels of leadership through its Excepted Service appointment process (Schedule A), which means that agencies may accept resumes without being required to post job notices. Through OPM prospective employees as well as human resource professionals may learn about supports that have been established to help members of the disability community join the federal workforce. OPM’s Schedule A[1] hiring authority is the vehicle used to employ people with disabilities[2] in cases where physicians/medical professionals, state vocational rehabilitation counselors, or others may certify disability and job readiness.[3] Sample Schedule A letters are available. SSA offers information about Schedule A and answers to frequently asked questions. For more information about applying for federal jobs, be sure to check out the The ABCs of Schedule A: Tips for Applicants with Disabilities on Getting Federal Jobs.

Veterans may receive appointment to federal jobs through Veterans Recruitment Appointment, the 30% or More Disabled Veterans Program and Veterans Employment Opportunity Act appointments. Veterans also may receive vocational rehabilitation services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a host of other programs including many for job seekers and entrepreneurs. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for example “provides information, tools, and training to ensure service members and their spouses are prepared for the next step in civilian life.”

For individuals with disabilities who want to work for a federal government contractor, options exist for them as well. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which was revised in 2014, prohibits businesses that do work with the government from discriminating against people with disabilities. The law requires these employers to take positive steps to recruit, hire, train, promote, and retain people with disabilities. These regulations established a 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities and require increased data collection and record-keeping to improve employer accountability. The use of these various hiring authorities also has been expanded by bringing together people with disabilities, hiring managers, and selective placement program coordinators, through the Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED). This is a cross-agency working group of federal agencies that advances recruitment, hiring, retention, and career advancement strategies for people with disabilities.

[1] Proof of disability is a requirement for noncompetitive consideration under the Schedule A, 5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u), Excepted Service Authority. 5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)(3) states: “Proof of disability. (i) An agency must require proof of an applicant’s intellectual disability, severe physical disability, or psychiatric disability prior to making an appointment under this section. (ii) An agency may accept, as proof of disability, appropriate documentation (e.g., records, statements, or other appropriate information) issued by a licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician or other medical professional duly certified by a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory, to practice medicine); a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (States or private); or any Federal agency, State agency, or an agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits.”

[2] The term “mental retardation” is used instead of “cognitive disability,” “developmental disability,” or “intellectual disability,” because it’s the official terminology used in the authorized Executive Order 12215, dated March 15, 1979.

[3] Id.

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