The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is a small but dynamic foreign affairs agency with approximately 135 Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) in 93 offices in 72 countries around the world. FSOs are responsible for supporting FAS efforts at agricultural trade promotion; trade policy; trade capacity building and food security. FSOs can expect to spend about a third of their career serving in USDA/FAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. in positions throughout the agency.
Successful applicants to this announcement will enter FAS as Foreign Service Trainees to work and train in Washington, D.C. for an average of 16 to 24 months, followed by assignment to an overseas post. Candidates demonstrating the necessary competencies and achievement will be commissioned into the Foreign Service and can look forward to professional careers with increasing rank and responsibility which average 25 years.
To access the "Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process" for more information about the Foreign Service Officer Trainee position and the assessment process please click here: http://www.fas.usda.gov/about-fas/careers.
*NOTE: The Foreign Agricultural Service will host an Adobe Connect Meeting for interested applicants on Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM Eastern Time. Participants will be able to learn about and discuss the Foreign Service Officer selection process, the Foreign Service personnel system, and the lifestyle of a Foreign Service Officer.
To join the meeting: https://usda.adobeconnect.com/r50h5qv8h04/
For audio or conference call: 1-888-844-9904 Access code: 1684912#
For more information, please contact Cynthia.Guven@fas.usda.gov.
Learn more about this agency
The trainee positions are term appointments, not-to exceed 18 months, which can be extended every year for up to a total of four years if needed. A term appointment does not confer competitive status.
This announcement may be used to fill 10-15 vacancies in Fiscal Year 2016, (pending budget and/or funding availability).
This position serves as a Foreign Service Officer Trainee and will undertake training which will include being assigned to work in Washington, DC. Foreign Service Officer Trainees are responsible for participating in the development of their training plan, attending and performing work as directed by the supervisor, and working toward developing a strong FAS knowledge base and learning job related skills throughout the training period. The training period may be up to 4 years.
Under the general supervision of the Area Director, the incumbent performs some or all of the following:
- Works effectively with other FAS program areas, other USDA agencies, and other U.S. Government (USG) agencies.
- Completes administrative and training requirements by assigned due dates.
- Participates in the management and oversight of public and private sector activities, including market development, market promotion, credit and credit guarantee programs. Develops, evaluates and coordinates market development programs of USDA Cooperators, State and Regional Trade Groups, and other entities which receive USDA funding. Develops and maintains effective working relationships with domestic agricultural industry representatives, trade associations and cooperators.
- Participates in the compilation, review and analysis of economic information and data regarding production, trade, consumption, prices and other factors affecting the world agricultural situation and outlook. Researches the economic, agricultural and trade policies that pertain to assigned areas of responsibility, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the range of issues involved and writes documents summarizing findings.
- Participates in the development of country strategy plans that include goals and measurable objectives aligned directly with the FAS Strategic Plan. Coordinates input from stakeholders, organizes country team meetings, and formulates longer-term trade strategies for addressing outstanding trade policy issues. Contributes creative ideas and actively participates in team meetings.
- Participates in the analysis of agricultural conditions, government policies, and commercial practices affecting the marketing and importing interests of U.S. producers and exporters.
- Prepares briefing memoranda, correspondence, briefing books, market profiles and other background information for USDA decision makers on a variety of subjects related to agricultural trade. Prepares other oral and written briefings as required, with thorough analysis of policy options and strategies.
- Participates in the identification, monitoring, and removal of technical, sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural trade.
- Participates in the coordination of Departmental objectives in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other major international organizations and conferences whose work has a bearing on international trade. Learns to influence others; gains cooperation while showing, in the spirit of mutual respect, understanding of other positions; applies these skills in both technical and nontechnical settings, as appropriate.
- Participates in the formulation of policies for the administration of USDA trade and food assistance programs. Works to implement agricultural capacity building and development activities to enhance trade and food security goals.
- Performs other duties as assigned.
This position serves in a developmental capacity performing assignments which are designed to prepare you to be laterally transferred to the position of Agricultural Attaché/Assistant, FP-0135-04 at an U.S. embassy upon completion of the following requirements:
- Satisfactory demonstration of the ability to perform the duties of the Agricultural Attaché/Assistant.
- A proven ability to work effectively with USDA and all government agencies.
- Recommendation by supervisor.
- Completion of all legal and regulatory requirements (including holding valid medical and security clearances) by assigned due dates.
75% or less - Must be available for worldwide assignments
Who May Apply
This job is open to…US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required.
Questions? This job is open to 1 group.
Job family (Series)
Conditions Of Employment
- US Citizenship is required.
- Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.
- You will be required to pass a background investigation/fingerprint check
- You must be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance
- You must be able to obtain and maintain a medical clearance
- Certain selectees may be subject to a 1 year trial period
- You must complete the online Occupational Questionnaire
- You must submit a resume along with other applicable supporting documents
- PLEASE READ ALL OF THE "HOW TO APPLY" INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU BEGIN
- As a condition of employment, satisfactory completion and favorable adjudication of a background investigation and/or fingerprint check may be required for this position.
- Employees will be required to sign a Service Agreement
- Members of the Foreign Service shall be obligated to serve abroad and shall be expected to serve abroad for substantial portions of their careers. A member of the Service may not be assigned to duty within the United States for any period of continuous service exceeding eight years unless the Secretary of Agriculture approves an extension of such period for that member because of special circumstances.
- Members of the Foreign Service are expected to serve anywhere in the world (worldwide), even in cases where family members cannot go to post due to political instability and/or other concerns, or when family members must leave post as conditions deteriorate (evacuations).
- The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) career employees will have re-employment rights back to FAS if not converted into the Foreign Service.
BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION AND FINGERPRINT CHECK: Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation. Prior to employment, you may be required to complete an OF-306, Declaration of Federal employment and other paperwork. The information collected on this form is used to determine suitability for Federal employment. You will also be required to sign and certify the accuracy of all information in your application/resume. You must answer all questions truthfully and completely. A false statement on any part of the declaration or other forms may be grounds for not hiring you or for firing you after you begin work.
QualificationsApplicants must meet all of qualifications requirements by the closing date of this vacancy announcement including the following specialized experience and/or education, as identified by grade level below.
FOR THE GS-11 LEVEL - In order to qualify for this position at the GS-11 level applicants must possess one of the following:
1. One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-9 level in the Federal service OR
2. Have qualifying education OR
3. Have a combination of specialized experience and qualifying education.
Specialized Experience: To qualify based on specialized experience applicants must possess one year or more of specialized experience that was equivalent to at least the next lower grade level (GS-09) in the Federal service that has provided them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed in order to successfully perform the duties of the position at the GS-11 level. Specialized experience may have obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors, be paid or unpaid experience, and is typically gained in the same field as the position being filled or another very closely related field.
Applicants qualifying for the GS-11 level based on experience must provide evidence of the following type of specialized experience in their resume, failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating:
- Experience assisting with, or performing professional work in, one of the following three areas:
. market development (market expansion-type activities); or
. capacity building (includes building food and market systems, expanding trade through food assistance, or enhancing agricultural development); or
. trade policy (negotiating and enforcing agreements; resolving technical, sanitary, or phytosanitary barriers; pursuing the development of rules-based international systems)
- Experience assisting with or performing professional work in market and economic analysis and interpretation.
Education: In order to qualify for the GS-11 level based on education applicants must have successfully completed at least three full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree in agricultural marketing, economics, agricultural or applied economics, agricultural business, or another field of study directly related to this position from an accredited university. Applicants qualifying for the GS-11 level based on education must submit copies of their college transcripts, failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating.
Combination of Specialized Experience and Qualifying Education: Applicants may qualify for the GS-11 level based on a combination of specialized experience and education, as listed above. Only graduate education beyond the second full-time year may be combined with experience. Applicants qualifying for the GS-11 level based on a combination of experience and education must show evidence of their experience in their resume and they must submit copies of their college transcripts, failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating.
FOR THE GS-12 LEVEL - In order to qualify for this position at the GS-12 level applicants must possess one year or more of specialized experience that was equivalent to at least the next lower grade level (GS-11) in the Federal service that has provided them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed in order to successfully perform the duties of the position at the GS-12 level. Specialized experience may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors, be paid or unpaid experience, and is typically gained in the same field as the position being filled or another very closely related field.
Applicants must provide evidence of the following type of specialized experience in their resume in order to qualify for this position at the GS-12 level, failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating:
- Experience performing professional work in all of the following three areas:
. market development (market expansion-type activities),
. capacity building (includes building food and market systems, expanding trade through food assistance, or enhancing agricultural development), and
. trade policy (negotiating and enforcing agreements; resolving technical, sanitary, or phytosanitary barriers; pursuing the development of rules-based international system
. Experience performing professional work in market and economic analysis and interpretation.
NOTE: There is no substitution of education allowed at the GS-12 level.
FOREIGN EDUCATION: Education completed in colleges or universities outside of the United States may be used if meet qualification requirements based on education. You must provide acceptable documentation that the foreign education is comparable to that received in an accredited educational institution in the United States. Failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating.
EDUCATION ACCREDITATION: Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to be creditable toward meeting the minimum qualification requirements. To verify your college/university accreditation, please visit: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
NOTE: Your college transcript is used to verify successful completion of degree, or college course work. If you are using your degree to qualify for the position, you must submit a copy of your college transcript. If selected and official college transcript will be required before you can report for duty.
Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service Programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community; student; social). volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
- Career Transition Assistance Plan(CTAP) or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): If you are claiming CTAP/ICTAP eligibility, provide proof of eligibility to include your most recent performance appraisal, SF-50 showing the full performance level or career ladder of your current or previous position, and proof of eligibility such as a RIF separation notice or letter from OPM/your agency. CTAP/ICTAP eligibles will be considered well-qualified if achieving a rating of 85 or above. Information about CTAP/ICTAP eligibility is at: OPM's Career Transition Resources website.
- Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).
- Direct Deposit – Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of your choosing.
- E-Verify: Federal law requires agencies to use the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. If you are selected as a newly hired employee, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form 1-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS 'E-VERIFY' system. Under the system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.
- It is the policy of the Government not to deny employment simply because an individual has been unemployed or has had financial difficulties that have arisen through no fault of the individual.
How You Will Be Evaluated
Before any candidates can be considered for further assessment, the resume and supporting documents are reviewed by a Human Resources Specialist to ensure that (a) minimum qualification requirements are met and (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the assessment tool questions. Your answers will be verified against information provided in your online resume. Be sure that your resume clearly supports your responses to all the questions addressing experience and education relevant to this position.
Applications will be evaluated in accordance with Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Delegated Examining Procedures using category rating. Applicants who meet basic minimum qualifications will be placed in one of three categories: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, or Qualified. Within these categories, applicants eligible for veterans preference will receive selection priority over non-veterans.
Note: If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your description of experience and/or education OR that your application is incomplete, your application will not be considered.
This is a multi-level assessment process. The highest ranking/best qualified applicants will be invited to participate in an Applicant Assessment Forum for further consideration.
The Assessment Forum will include written, group and oral exams.
The successful applicant will demonstrate the following dimensions that reflect the skills, abilities and personal qualities deemed essential to the work of the Foreign Service: interpersonal skills, intellectual skills, leadership skills, customer service skills, and communication skills.
The Assessment Forum is tentatively scheduled to take place on April 11-22, 2016 in Riverdale, MD.
Applicants must pass each portion of the assessment process. If you do not pass all of the exams in the Assessment Forum, you will not be considered for the position. Those that pass all of the exams in the Assessment Forum will be referred to the selecting officials on a certificate of eligibles for further consideration. The certificate of eligibles is valid for 3 months.
Applicants who are eligible for veterans preference will receive selection priority over non-veteran’s preference eligibles.
To view the application form, visit: https://fas.usda.ntis.gov/cp/?event=jobs.previewApplication&jobid=5ACAFD97-FC39-4BA4-BD35-A5980115F187
Background checks and security clearance
You must submit a complete Application Package, prior to 11:59, ET, on the closing date of this announcement. The following documents must be submitted for your application package to be considered complete. It is your responsibility to ensure all required documents are received within the required timeframes. Our office cannot be responsible for incompatible software, illegible fax transmissions, delays in the mail service, system failure or downtime, etc. Failure to submit required, legible documents may result in loss of consideration.
- Resume that includes the following information: 1) job information for the position for which you are applying; 2) personal information; 3) education; 4) work experience - including the work schedule and hours worked per week as well as beginning and ending dates of employment(month/year) and job title, series and grade if applicable; 5) supervisors phone number and e-mail address for each work period listed and whether or not we may contact them for reference checks; and, 6) other qualifications you may possess.
- College Transcripts if education is required for meeting the basic qualification requirements and/or used as a substitute for specialized experience. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application; however, if selected, an official college transcript will be required prior to entering on duty. All education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university. Foreign education must be evaluated by an approved organization. For additional information, refer to the U.S. Department of Education web site at http://www.ed.gov. All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation.
- DD-214 (Member 4 Copy) if claiming Veterans’ Preference. Veterans claiming 10 point preference must also submit a VA Letter and an SF-15, Application for 10-point Veteran Preference. Current active duty members must submit a certification that they are expected to be discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted.
- Other required documents, which may include:
- CTAP/ICTAP Required Documentation for Federal employees impacted by a Reduction-In-Force action, including: Certification of Expected Separation, Reduction-In-Force Separation Notice, or Notice of Proposed Removal; AND your most recent performance appraisal/evaluation; AND an SF-50 demonstrating your separation or the position that you will be separated from.
- Worker's Compensation Separation: Agency certification of inability to place employee AND Notification of Separation OR Separation SF-50.
- Disability Annuity Termination: Notification from OPM of disability annuity termination AND Separation SF-50 of the last position held. Military Reserve or National Guard Technician Special Disability Retirement Annuity under 5 U.S.C. 8337(h) or 8456: Certification of special disability retirement annuity from a military department or National Guard Bureau AND Separation SF-50 of the last position held.
NOTE: If a document is resubmitted, it replaces the previous submission, which means the previous document is no longer available to the Human Resources Office. If you are adding to, rather than replacing a previous submission, you must upload both the old document and the new document. Please verify that documents you are uploading from USAJOBs transfer into the Agency's staffing system as there is a limitation to the number of documents that can be transferred. However, once in the Agency's staffing system, you will have the opportunity to upload additional documents. Uploaded resumes must be less than 3MB and in one of the following document formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, RTF, PDF, or Word (DOC or DOCX).
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:
Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.
These positions afford eligibility for the full range of the Federal Government's comprehensive benefits package. Explore the major benefits offered to most Federal employees at: http://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/enrollment/new-federal-employee-enrollment/
Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
How to Apply
Please read the entire announcement and all of the instructions before you begin.
The following instructions outline our application process.
- You must complete this application process and submit all required documents electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.
- We are available to assist you during business hours (normally 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday). Applying online is highly encouraged. If applying online poses a hardship, please contact our office during business hours well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hardship application packages with supporting documents must be submitted no later than noon on the closing date of the announcement in order to be entered into the system prior to its closing.
- This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities on a case-by-case basis; contact us if you are requesting this.
Step 1: Create a USAJOBS account (if you do not have one) at www.usajobs.gov. It is recommended that as part of your profile you set up automatic email notification to be informed when the status of your application changes. If you choose not to set up this automatic notification, then you will have to log into your USAJOBS account to check on the status of your application.
Step 2: Create a resume with USAJOBS or upload a resume into your USAJOBS account. Customize your resume to ensure it documents duties and accomplishments you have gained that are directly related to this position in order to verify that qualifications are met. Your resume must support your responses to the online questionnaire (you may preview the online questionnaire by clicking on the link at the end of the How You Will Be Evaluated section of the job announcement).
Step 3: Click "Apply Online" and follow the prompts to complete the Occupational Questionnaire and attach any additional documents that may be required.
You can update your application or documents anytime while the announcement is open. Log into your USAJOBS account and click on "Application Status." Click on the position title, and then select "Update Application” to continue.
NOTE: Verify that uploaded documents from USAJOBs transfer into the Agency's staffing system. Once in the Agency's staffing system you will have the opportunity to upload additional documents. Uploaded documents must be less than 3MB and in one of the following document formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, RTF, PDF, or Word (DOC or DOCX).
Agency contact information
100 N. 6th Street, Butler Sq Bldg, Suite 510C
Minneapolis, MN, 55403
Visit our careers page
Learn more about what it's like to work at Foreign Agricultural Service, what the agency does, and about the types of careers this agency offers.
If you set up your USAJOBS account to send automatic email notifications, you will receive an email acknowledging: 1) the submission of your online Occupational Questionnaire and resume was successful, 2) if you were referred to the selecting official for consideration, and 3) if you were selected or not selected. If you choose not to set up automatic email notifications, you must check your USAJOBS account for the latest status of your application. Your application may be reviewed to verify that you meet the qualifications and eligibility requirements for the position prior to issuing lists to a selecting official. If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted. We expect to make a final job offer within 40 days after the closing date of the announcement.
Fair & Transparent
The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
Reasonable Accommodation Policy
Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must provide reasonable accommodations:
- An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.
Legal and regulatory guidance
This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/427788000. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.