By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
I recently wrote an article “5 Thoughts on Acquiring a Federal Job for Transitioning Military” for the In Military blog. When I had friends review my article, someone asked, “Should I send an introduction letter to a federal hiring manager?”
When it comes to the federal government, I have been both the job hunter and the hiring manager. I worked in the government for 36 years, in active-duty military service and also in the civil service for a second retirement.
During those years, many people called me or sent me unsolicited emails that often contained a resume or a friend’s resume. The sender strongly suggested that I review the resume with the intent to hire the resume’s owner when there was a job vacancy.
Such conversations and emails are not acceptable to me, which cause the following three thoughts:
#1: The Applicant Submits an Inferior Job Package
If an applicant contacts me or sends me more information than requested in the USAJOBS web hiring portal, my first thought is that the applicant thinks his or her application package is weak. I view this activity as the applicant’s hope to get more information in front of me as a hiring manager. Attempting to get such an edge is not fair to the other job candidates.
If an applicant needs assistance, he or she can contact the Civilian Personnel Office or human resources personnel. They are not in the hiring chain.
Remember, most hiring managers were once job seekers. We all feel our packages could have/should have had better information to be more competitive. If you know you are missing information and the deadline is past for submission, suck it up and move on. Work on your package to do better on the next application.
#2: The Job Applicant Lacks Ethical Standards
Some aspiring federal employees send me emails or chat with me at unit gatherings, trying to give me more information and make their federal job packages better looking. But my reaction is, “This person thinks that I am morally corrupt! Do they think they can gain illegal influence?”
Federal civil service employees and hiring managers have worked hard to get to their current positions and have strong ethical standards. We achieved our positions by doing right and being fair.
Some federal managers are close to retirement and have families. They will not risk endangering their jobs, retirement benefits and families for job applicants, especially for someone they don’t know.
I often had 200 qualified resumes per vacancy. Giving assistance to one applicant over the others is not fair. The federal hiring system is set up to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to be hired and to conform to federal hiring laws.
#3: The Job Applicant May Be Part of a Sting Operation
If a job applicant asks me for an illegal and improper favor during a job search, I become curious as to why that person is asking for a hiring favor. There is always the possibility that the applicant is part of a sting operation by the Office of Inspector General or by a criminal investigative body.
Most federal managers have hiring authority. They are all subject to investigation for influence peddling. An investigation could result in the hiring manager’s job termination, the loss of a security clearance or resignation from the job.
Federal Jobs Need Strong, Ethical and Skilled Applicants
So if you’re seeking a federal job, it is best NOT to send a letter of introduction and perhaps give the federal hiring manager the impression that you have an incomplete application package or weak ethical standards. Instead, focus on perfecting your job package to create a favorable impression on an impartial hiring manager.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”