Q. Why is a ranger working at another lake higher graded than I am? We do the same thing!
A. Your job grade, whether you are an employee under the General Schedule (GS) or the Wage Grade (WG, WL, WS) system, is derived by comparing your duties against a standard published by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). These standards can be found on the OPM Website. If you are unsure how to interpret these standards, ask your servicing HRO for assistance. Objective determinations of your grade may be found by discussing it with your supervisor or servicing personnel generalists.
Q. I seem to be stuck as a GS-05 or GS-07 ranger.
A. You may be improperly graded within your series. Review the classification standards and make an objective analysis of your job. If you feel that you are working at a higher grade, ask your supervisor for a desk audit of your position. It may be a case where the work that you perform only supports a lower grade than you desire. In these cases, you must decide if you are comfortable with the status quo. If not, a willingness to be mobile and move to another Corps facility is probably the best avenue for advancement.
Q. Where can I find example position descriptions for conversion from the 0025 series to the 0401 series?
A. See Conversion to 0401 Series in Good Enough to Share and SAD park ranger conversion website.
Q. How does being a Corps of Engineers park ranger differ from being a National Park ranger?
A. While Corps and National Park rangers wear similar uniforms, and both enforce the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Corps park rangers are not certified peace officers. National Park rangers specialize in either law enforcement or interpretation; whereas Corps park rangers generalize in all aspects of the NRM program. They dress in a uniform and operate vehicles, boats, ATVs, and bicycles and other sources of transportation as needed to ensure that public safety and property are maintained in proper manner.
Recruitment & Hiring
Q. Why do some job announcements stipulate "in-house" hires?
A. In some cases, managers and supervisors are trying to reorganize their work force to achieve greater efficiencies. To avoid an adverse personnel action, some jobs must be filled from the existing work force at a specific location.
Q. How can I search and apply for jobs?
A. Job searches today are easier than ever. Many jobs within the government are listed on the OPM Website. Each announcement will tell you how to apply.
Q. Does a selecting official have to interview candidates? If one candidate is interviewed, do all members of the list have to be interviewed?
A. Selecting officials do not have to interview any of the candidates on the list, nor do they have to interview all candidates if they interview one. Most selecting officials will narrow the list down to a manageable level by reviewing the applications and will then conduct personal interviews. However, the interview format should be essentially the same for all applicants that the selecting supervisor chooses to interview.
Q. Do I have to take a federal test to get a job in the Corps of Engineers?
A. The extensive program of testing formerly handled by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has basically ended. The one exception is the test for Office Automation and related positions. OPM must be contacted directly by the applicant to find out when and where testing will be held. Once the applicant has the results of the test, that form should be a part of the application process.
Q. How long will a resume be kept in the database?
A. Resumes from applicants not permanently employed by the Department of the Army will be retained in the database for six (6) months from the date of the last submission of the resume, date last accessed, or until selected for a position. Resumes from current permanent Department of the Army civilian employees will be retained in the database until the employee either updates their resume or is selected for a position through Resumix.
Q. How can I get the training I need to help me do my job and advance my career?
A. Tight training budgets and heavy workloads seem to be the standards for today's work force. Employees may be able to help the agency and their supervisor by offering to take training on their own time, at government expense, online or at a local college or other training facility. This shows the supervisor that employees are willing to invest in their future and it helps to stretch the budget, since a large part of the training budget is invested in travel and per diem.
Q. How can I broaden my experiences?
A. Developmental assignments provide excellent opportunities to gain experience in fields other than natural resource management. Work in Planning, Real Estate, Regulatory, PPMD etc. provides excellent opportunities.
Q. How can I gain management experience?
A. Most managers are looking for an employee willing to take responsibility. Let your supervisor know that you are interested in aspects of management. Together, develop a plan that will allow you to assume more responsibility in the areas of administration and supervision. Understand, however, that managers have a responsibility to ensure that you work primarily within the confines of your position description, so don't be surprised if you are "reined" in on occasion.
Q. What is an IDP and how is it used?
A. IDP stands for Individual Development Plan and should be discussed with your supervisor at least once a year, ideally at the same time that you are undergoing your TAPES counseling. An IDP is a working tool only. Just because training is listed on the IDP is not a guarantee that you will have the opportunity to take it. Fiscal resources, workload, and other factors will have an impact on your opportunity to receive training.
Q. I belong to professional societies and stay current in my career field but there is no reward for doing that, so why bother?
A. Your professional affiliations are important. There are many intangible rewards that accompany these affiliations. Networking to learn about job opportunities is important, as is the status that these affiliations will have on your resume as you compete for advancement opportunities.
Q. I continually request to attend PROSPECT and other training courses but never get to attend them. Why not?
A. When going through your yearly performance evaluation you should be updating your Individual Development Plan (IDP) to reflect your career development needs. You should then discuss this in detail with your supervisor, as showing initiative for your development rests with you. In some instances it may be budget constraints.
Q. How do I know what training I need?
A. The Natural Resource Career Development Guide (EP 690-2-2) has been developed to train natural resource management employees. The guide maps possible career paths for all grade levels and a variety of job series. It outlines required training, management-directed training, and on-the job training. The guide should be used when developing and updating your Individual Development Plan (IDP).
Q. Can I receive credit for completed Computer-Based Training and Correspondence Courses?
A. Yes, upon proof of completion of the training you should work through your supervisor and your CEPAC representative to have the records become part of your official personnel file. You should maintain a copy of all your records for your personnel files.