Job Application Guidelines and Tips
The following information will assist you in applying for jobs with Fairfax County.
Note: The county uses GovernmentJobs.com for its hiring processes. In this process, you complete an application that contains the same sections of information found in a resume (Education, Work, etc.) and then answer a series of questions about your qualifications. You may, optionally, attach a traditional resume to your application; however, your application must be completed. Blank applications that state "see attached resume" will not be considered.
What reviewers look for when reviewing your application
Your application is reviewed against the requirements for the job you applied to.
First, your application is reviewed against the Minimum Qualifications stated in the job announcement. It is mandatory that you meet these qualifications to be considered for the job. For example: The Minimum Qualifications are a four-year degree and two years of experience in finance or accounting. Your application must clearly show that you have the four-year degree and that you have two—or more—years of work experience in finance or accounting.
Special Requirements – Some jobs have mandatory requirements for licenses, bilingual ability, certifications, etc. A candidate must meet these Special Requirements in order to be considered for the job opening.
Next, your application will be reviewed against the Preferred Qualifications. Applicants who meet most of the Preferred Qualifications are a closer match to what the hiring manager is looking for and are considered stronger candidates.
Lastly, the reviewer will look at the candidates that have met all the Minimum Qualifications and Special Requirements and most of the Preferred Qualifications. From this group, the 10-15 candidates that seem to be the closest match to the job requirements will be placed on the “Referred List” to be considered for interviews.
TIP: Read the job announcement thoroughly! Carefully read the Minimum Qualifications and Special Requirements, and if you do not meet them, understand that you cannot be considered for this job.
FAQs about applications submitted to Fairfax County
Q: I'm very qualified for this job. Why wasn’t I interviewed?
A: Usually the reason an applicant who meets the qualifications is not selected for an interview is simply because so many well-qualified applicants applied for the job. Applying for jobs at Fairfax County is highly competitive. The Washington DC area, in general, attracts some of the brightest and most motivated job seekers in the United States. It is normal for a single job announcement to receive hundreds of applications from very well-qualified candidates. But only the top 10-15 will be considered for an interview.
Q: Is it true that the computer "reads" my application? How can I get a person to look at it?
A: Many people believe that their application is "read" by the county's job application program (NeoGov) and not by people. This is not true—human reviewers assess your application. They may use the program’s filters to search for applicants with skills and experience that the hiring manager desires, but the filtering process is only part of the assessment. The reviewer also examines your application to determine if you are a good match for the position.
Q: Why do I have to complete an application? Can’t I just attach my resume?
A: Candidates who attach a resume to their account and then state
“see attached resume” in their application (rather than completing the
required fields) will quickly find that they fail the county’s
recruitment process. Your application is what is evaluated by the
recruiters and/or hiring manager. To compete successfully you must
fill out all the fields in the application.
The “import a resume” function in NeoGov (or the cut-and-paste capability on your PC) will help you complete the application fields quickly; there is no need to start from scratch if you have an existing resume.
Q: Can someone meet with me about how to improve my application?
A: The Department of Human Resources receives over 140,000 applications a year. Because of this huge volume of submissions, it is not possible for our staff to provide one-on-one assistance to job candidates. If you follow the guidelines in this brochure, you should be able to submit an application that accurately reflects your skills, experience and education. If you still feel you need assistance, there are many companies that provide one-on-one advice to job seekers.
Completing the application
Section One: Information
This section of your application includes:
• Phone (home, work, cell)
• Email address
The contact information may be used later to reach you for an interview, so make sure that it is complete, current and accurate.
The Objective is optional, but it is a good idea to make a brief statement that summarizes your experience, skills, and abilities. This section is limited to 500 characters, so you must be brief.
Section Two: Work
List the following information for each job, starting with your most recent job and working backward through past jobs.
• Dates (month/year to month/year)
• Position title
• Company name and location
• Duties summary
Some tips for making sure this section the best it can be:
The Dates of employment are critical for you to receive credit for the years of work experience you have. Be accurate!
Under DUTIES SUMMARY, begin each job with a descriptive opening statement that indicates primary responsibilities. Then state other responsibilities and achievements.
Some items in this section are optional, such as SALARY and whether it is okay to contact this employer? Feel free to leave these fields blank.
General advice: Use strong verbs (for example—planned, provided, supported, organized). Be brief. Edit/rewrite sentences using concise statements.
Section Three: Education
Completing this section completely and accurately will make it easy for the reviewer to confirm whether you meet the educational requirements for the job. (Include credits earned to date if your college degree is in progress and has not been completed.)
For each school/degree you must include the following:
• School name and location
• Type (high school; vocational; military training; 2-year college; etc.)
• Degree (BA; BS; AA; MD; MS; GED; HS diploma; PHD)
TIP: Although it is optional, make sure to answer the question: DID YOU GRADUATE?
Section Four: Additional Information
Use this section to list additional relevant skills, certifications and/or professional memberships. Some suggestions are provided below:
• Certificates and licenses (e.g., CDL, RN, PE)
• Honors & awards
• Military service
• Volunteer experience
• Professional memberships (e.g., ALA, SHRM, ASCE, APA)
• Technical (computer software proficiencies)
The Supplemental Questions are questions asked of you directly by the hiring manager. Answer these honestly! Your answers will be compared to your application to verify that they are truthful.
TIP: Do not just pick the answer that you think will help you advance in the process.
For example, if you respond to a question that you have three years of experience in accounting, the reviewer will examine the work experience section of your application to see at which positions you worked in accounting and for how long.
Tips for improving your application
Make sure your contact information is current and check the
calls/emails often. A surprisingly high number of candidates can’t be
reached to schedule an interview using the information from their
Double-check spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Be honest about your accomplishments. If called for an
interview, you must be prepared to discuss the skills, experience, and
accomplishments on your application—something you will not be able to
do if you have been dishonest.
Remember to include volunteer or community service,
awards, and certifications that support your career
Be specific about your computer, software and equipment
VAGUE: Microsoft Office software.
SPECIFIC: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook.
- Read the job announcement thoroughly. Match it against your application before you apply. Carefully read the Minimum Qualifications and the Special Requirements, and if you do not meet them, understand that you can not be considered for this job.
Attached cover letters/resumes
These are not necessary to the county’s application process.
Although there is a REFERENCES section in your application, these are not needed unless you are contacted for an interview.
Certifications and licenses
Mention these in your application if appropriate, but you are usually not required to provide a copy until you go to an interview.
You won’t be able to use bolding, etc., to format your application but don’t worry — the completed product that the reviewer sees looks neat and easy to read. See the example below:
Links for additional assistance
List of action-oriented verbs and
County SkillSource Centers (general job hunting resources &
- The Department of Human Resources Application Center is located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 270, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Phone 703-324-3311 (TTY 703-222-7314). Directions to the Government Center.