The U.S. federal government is the largest employer in the world and comes with its own unique hiring process. This ongoing series explores the federal job application process and the ins and outs of how the government classifies, investigates and prioritizes applicants for federal work.

1. Navigating USAJobs and the federal hiring process - Nearly all federal positions are hired through the USAJobs portal, which houses thousands of government listings and processes millions of applications each year. The key to a successful federal application starts with understanding how to use the site.

2. Understanding the GS pay scale and required skills - The General Schedule dictates how most federal positions are classified and paid. But applicants don’t need to be an expert, if they know where to look.

3. Assessments are becoming the new norm in federal hiring - A degree will soon become less important in the federal job application process, but agencies will turn to other means of assessing an applicant’s skills.

4. What to expect in a government background investigation - The federal government uses background investigations to determine whether an applicant is suitable for government work. It is generally the longest part of the federal hiring process, but while all jobs require investigations, not all receive security clearances.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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