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Sabrina Thomas Springfield, VA

Good day. I am trying to land a government job. I have never been a federal employee, nor have I ever been in the military. I am a military spouse of an 17 year active duty service member. I am currently looking at applying for a GS-7 position with an agency; however, I'm being told by peers, that with my education alone (currently I have one full year of graduate school completed and expected to graduate with a MBA in October 2020), there are GS-11 positions I am qualified for and should go no lower than GS 11 when applying for jobs because if I were to accept a GS-7, the chances of going up in grades could be difficult since I would only be able to apply for jobs that are one pay grade higher every year. This is where I am confused. As an example scenerio, if I land a GS-7 now and a year from now I decided I want to look at applying for another agency in the government sector, I would only be able to apply for GS-8 or lower?

21 February 2020 3 replies Career Advancement



John Volpe Seaford, NY


I suggest you expand your job search to also include the private sector. Job grades are not as rigid as in the federal government and I think you would have more opportunities and more success there, particularly with an MBA.

Good luck



Mark Aldridge Horseshoe Bend, ID

Sabrina there is truth in the confusion. If you accept the GS-7 position then the standard protocol is that you will be eligible for a GS-8 position after 52 weeks of experience. At that time if you wanted to apply for a position above the 8 level you can qualify with non-governmental job experience equal to GS-11 or higher education. Hope this helps.


John Faber Arlington, VA

Hi Sabrina,

I am not familiar with how government promotions work, but I tend to agree with the advice you have been given. If you were a GS-7 now, why would someone promote you 4 levels higher when there are other people currently serving in GS-10 roles that want to get promoted?

You may feel hesitant to apply for a GS-11 position given your lack of experience working in the federal government, but if people are telling you that you have the education and the skillset to be successful then you shouldn't doubt that. I think there are applications on USAJobs that allow you to apply for a position at different levels simultaneously and I suggest applying for all of them and accept the best offer that you receive.

Best of luck!


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