federal jobs

Presidential Management Fellowship Tips

We’re so proud to be featured on The Resume Place’s blog! The Resume Place founder, Kathryn Troutman, literally “wrote the book” on federal resumes and created the Ten Steps to a Federal Job and the Stars Are Lined Up for Military Spouses training which we will be offering next year. Check out her blog and her website for a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in federal service.


Successfully navigating the PMF application process is its own unique challenge unlike any other you might have previously experienced.  The points listed below can help you to not only familiarize yourself with the application and interview process, but also to better understand the big picture of what PMF has in store for you: 

1)     In the PMF, leadership style is everything. Don’t dominate. Instead, collaborate, synergize.  In preparing your PMF resume, and other application materials, don’t feel like the program is looking for you to demonstrate your leadership qualities by the degree to which you take charge and personally tackle every issue that arises. In truth, it’s not about “you”.   It’s about identifying and developing committed public service leaders who can problem solve collaboratively and thrive in the unique context of federal government service.  In the federal workplace, leadership requires the ability to quickly adapt to political or global changes that agency staff have little or no control over. Keep in mind that the PMF reviewers are not necessarily looking for the archetypal Type A leader who steamrolls their way to success.  Instead, they’re looking for individuals who will do well and be a good fit for the context of federal government service. This means being adaptable, flexible, and creative about how to lead by collaborative facilitation rather than fiat.   

2)    Becoming a PMF Finalist is only the beginning.  Just imagine, you’ve made it through the gauntlet of the online situational judgement and personality assessment, perfected your essays, nailed your in-person interview day and received the felicitous news that you’ve been selected as a PMF Finalist.  After a few well-deserved happy dances, prepare to buckle down for the second half of your PMF journey, securing your placement.  Your non-competitive hiring authority is good for 12 months from the date you are selected as a Finalist, and be prepared to use that as your number one talking point for the duration.  Though the PMF is considered prestigious, and can be extremely helpful in obtaining a position in hard to access agencies like State and USAID, don’t expect everyone in the federal government to be familiar with the program. Some agencies, especially those targeted by STEM applicants (e.g. USDA, NSF), have little to no familiarity with the program.  This leaves finalists with the need to develop a tight elevator speech explaining what your status as a PMF Finalist means and how it can be of assistance to HR Specialists and Hiring Managers as a shortcut to filling positions.  Network proactively to seek out specific offices you’re interested in serving as a PMF, and be creative in pitching how a Presidential Management Fellow in their ranks would be of service to your agency of choice.   

3)    Going through the process is valuable experience.  Keep in mind that whether or not you ultimately land a placement as a Presidential Management Fellow, the process itself is a rich learning experience and great real-world practice which can help you master high-stakes job applications and interviews.  These are marketable skills which the PMF process can help you build for a lifetime and apply inside or outside public service.  How far you get in the process may itself be a great gauge for where you should focus your efforts in improving your job search game.  Apply yourself and treat it as the learning opportunity, and you will position yourself to learn how you can demonstrate core competencies, such as collaborative facilitation, interpersonal problem solving and adaptability.  These skills apply not only to future federal job searches, but also to private industry searches and success in landing your dream job, wherever that may be. 

If you or anyone you know is interested in PMF or jobs in federal, state or local government, please feel free to contact me for more information on our private and group career coaching options.