Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officer (Trainee)
Department Of Agriculture - Washington, DC

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PLEASE READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS UNDER "HOW TO APPLY" BEFORE YOU BEGIN.

RELOCATION EXPENSES WILL NOT BE PAID.

The Foreign Agricultural Service is responsible for carrying out a broad range of programs, activities, and tasks designed to carry out the Department of Agriculture's statutory responsibility to promote United States agricultural interests overseas.

Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officers may have broad or specialized responsibilities within that spectrum depending upon personal rank, position level occupied, size and complexity of the country, and post organizational structure.

Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officers represent the interest and needs of American agriculture at foreign posts as representatives of the Secretary of Agriculture.

FOREIGN SERVICE RECRUITMENT - APPLICATION PROCESS BRIEFING : The Office of Foreign Service Operations and the Human Resources Division will conduct a Foreign Service Recruitment - Application Process briefing on Friday, February 08, 2013 from 10:00 - 12:30 PM at Patriot Plaza III Auditorium - 1st floor (355 E Street, SW, Washington, DC). This briefing will cover an overview of the Foreign Service, the application and testing processes and Foreign Service training. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Nikia.sizer@wdc.usda.gov or Audrey.armstrong@wdc.usda.gov .

THIS IS A TERM APPOINTMENT NOT-TO-EXCEED 18 MONTHS, CAN BE EXTENDED EVERY YEAR UP TO A TOTAL OF FOUR YEARS.

A TERM APPOINTMENT DOES NOT CONFER COMPETITIVE STATUS. KEY REQUIREMENTS

You must be a U.S. Citizen to apply.
Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
Complete Occupational Questionnaire and submit resume/supporting documents.
Meet qualification requirements.
Certain selectees may be subject to a 1-year trial period.
Maximum age limit of 56 requirement at the time of appointment DUTIES:

This announcement may be used to fill one or more vacancies. (Pending budget/funding availability).

Must be able to obtain and maintain a medical clearance and Top Secret security clearance.

This position serves as a Foreign Service Officer Trainee and will undertake training that may include being assigned to work in a specific program area. This position is responsible for participating in the development of their training plan, attending and performing work as directed by the supervisor, and working towards achieving the competencies in the training plan. The training period may be up to 4 years.

This position serves in a developmental capacity performing assignments which are designed to prepare you to be laterally transferred to the position of Agricultural Attaché/Assistant, FP-0135-04 at an U.S. embassy upon completion of the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory demonstration of the ability to perform the duties of the Agricultural Attaché/Assistant.
  • A proven ability to work effectively with USDA and all government agencies.
  • Recommendation by supervisor.
  • Completion of all legal and regulatory requirements (including holding valid medical and security clearances) by assigned due dates. QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED:
TO QUALIFY AT THE GS-11 LEVEL, you must possess:
1. One year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-9 level in the Federal service OR
2. Have qualifying education OR
3. Have a combination of specialized experience and qualifying education.

Your experience must have equipped you with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled.

Specialized experience at the GS-11 level:
  • Demonstrated knowledge of market development and U.S. trade legislation. OR
  • Experience advising on or performing professional work in market and economic analysis and interpretation, and foreign reporting, in connection with the development of foreign markets. OR
  • Experience in analysis of the agricultural economy, developments, trends and conditions in foreign countries. OR
  • Represents in matters affecting foreign agricultural affairs.
Substitution of education at the GS-11 level: Completion of at least three full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree in agricultural marketing, economics, agricultural economics, agricultural business, or other field of study directly related to this position from an accredited university.

Combination of specialized experience and qualifying education at the GS-11 level: A combination of specialized experience and education as listed above. Only graduate education beyond the second full-time year may be combined with experience.

TO QUALIFY AT THE GS-12 LEVEL , you must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 level in the Federal service.

Your experience must have equipped you with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled.

Specialized experience at the GS-12 level:
  • In-depth knowledge of agricultural market development programs and U.S. agricultural trade or agricultural development. OR
  • Experience advising on supervising, or performing professional work in market and economic analysis and interpretation, and foreign reporting, in connection with the development of foreign markets for U.S. agricultural commodities. OR
  • Experience in analysis of the agricultural economy, developments, trends and conditions in foreign countries. OR
  • Represents in matters affecting foreign agricultural affairs.
Substitution of education cannot be used at the GS-12 level.

You must meet the qualification requirements by Monday, February 18, 2013.

College Transcript: Submit a copy of your college transcript that lists college courses detailing each course by the number and department (i.e., bio 101, math 210, etc.), course title, number of credit hours and grade earned. You must submit evidence that any education completed in a foreign institution is equivalent to U.S. education standards with your resume.

NOTE: Your college transcript is used to verify successful completion of degree, or college course work. If you are using your degree to qualify for the position, you must submit a copy of your transcript. IF YOU ARE SELECTED, AN OFFICIAL COLLEGE TRANSCRIPT WILL BE REQUIRED BEFORE YOU CAN REPORT TO DUTY.

REQUIREMENTS

Must be available for Worldwide assignments.

Employees will be required to sign a Service Agreement.

Members of the Foreign Service shall be obligated to serve abroad and shall be expected to serve abroad for substantial portions of their careers. A member of the Service may not be assigned to duty within the United States for any period of continuous service exceeding eight years unless the Secretary approves an extension of such period for that member because of special circumstances. Consistent with the needs of the Service, the Secretary shall seek to assign each career member of the Service who is a citizen of the United States to duty within the United States at least once during each period of fifteen years that the member is in the Service.

Members of the Foreign Service are expected to serve anywhere in the world (worldwide), even in cases where family members cannot go to post due to political instability and/or other concerns, or when family members must leave post as conditions deteriorate (evacuations).

Must be able to obtain and maintain a medical clearance and Top Secret security clearance as a condition of employment.

Career Appointments in the For eign Service are covered by the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended. Chapter 8, Section 812 of the Act directs mandatory retirement at age 65 . As a result, there is a maximum age limit of 56 at the time of appointment to the position of Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officer (trainee) position. The maximum age for appointment under these regulations is based on the requirement that all candidates must be able to:

(1) Be hired under a Term Appointment not to exceed four years as training which may include language training as necessary for the position;

(2) Complete at least four years overseas on assignment exclusive of orientation and training;

(3) Complete the requisite eligibility period of five years to receive retirement benefits, before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65, as prescribed by the Act

Note: The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) career employees will have re-employment rights back to FAS if not converted into the Foreign Service.

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION AND FINGERPRINT CHECK : Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation. Prior to employment, you may be required to complete an OF-306, Declaration of Federal employment and other paperwork. The information collected on this form is used to determine suitability for Federal employment. You will also be required to sign and certify the accuracy of all information in your application/resume. You must answer all questions truthfully and completely. A false statement on any part of the declaration or other forms may be grounds for not hiring you or for firing you after you begin work. HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED:

BASIS OF RATING: Based on your responses to the automated scoring system, your application will be placed in one of the two categories: Best Qualified or Qualified. Within these categories, applicants eligible for veteran's preference will receive selection priority over non-veterans.

Your final rating will be based on your responses to the questionnaire (self-assessment) and a panel of subject matter experts.

  • Your responses to the self assessment will result in a numerical score, which is 40% of your final rating. This rating determines those applicants that are referred for review by the panel of subject matter experts.
  • The panel will then score the referred applicants. These scores determine the additional 60% of your rating; both scores are added together to determine the final rating.
  • The final rating determines those applicants that will be referred on to take a written exam. The written exam is tentatively scheduled for April 10 - 16, 2013. Qualified applicants must be available to take the written exam in Washington DC during the period of April 10 - 16, 2013. The panel will score the written exams. If you do not pass the written exam, you will not be considered for this position.
  • If you pass the written exam, your name will be referred on to take the group/oral exam. The group/oral exam is tentatively scheduled for April 29 - May 3, 2013. Referred applicants must be available for the group/oral exam in Washington, DC during the period of April 29 - May 3, 2013. The panel will score the group/oral exam. If you do not pass the group/oral exam, you will not be considered for the position.
  • Those that pass the group/oral exam will be put on the certificate for referral to the selecting official.
Your resume and supporting documents are reviewed by an Human Resources Specialist to ensure that (a) minimum qualification requirements are met and (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the job-specific questions. Your answers will be verified against information provided in your online resume and application. Be sure that your resume clearly supports your responses to all the questions addressing experience and education relevant to this position. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your description of experience and/or education OR that your application is incomplete, it may result in receipt of a lower or ineligible rating.

Before the certificate is issued to the selecting official, Human Resources will assign a final score for your total experience (including education and training) and the panel reviews.

The successful candidate will demonstrate the following dimensions that reflect the skills, abilities, and personal qualities deemed essential to the work of the Foreign Service: Composure, Cultural Adaptability, Experience and Motivation, Information Integration and Analysis, Initiative and Leadership, Judgment, Objectivity and Integrity, Oral Communication, Planning and Organizing, Quantitative Analysis, Resourcefulness, Working with Others, Written Communication, and Technical Knowledge.

For more information on FAS' Foreign Service Selection Process, click the link below. http://www.fas.usda.gov/admin/newjobs/Guide%20to%20FS%20Selection%20Process.pdf BENEFITS:

Permanent employees are eligible to elect life and health insurance coverage and will be covered by a Retirement System. Employees will earn annual and sick leave. For additional information on benefits click here . OTHER INFORMATION:

Reasonable Accommodations: This Agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities (i.e., alternative means of communication such as Braille, large print, audiotape, etc). If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please contact USDA Target Center at 202-720-2600, voice and TDD. Decisions on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis.

EEO/Diversity Policy: USDA is an Equal Opportunity Employer and prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability , and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from public assistance. For information on filing an Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO) Discrimination Complaint go to http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_file.html

Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) or Career Transition Assistance Plan(CTAP): If you are claiming CTAP/ICTAP eligibility, provide a copy of your most recent annual performance appraisal (at least "fully successful" or equivalent), and proof of eligibility, i.e., a RIF separation notice or Certification of Expected Separation, and SF-50 noting current position, grade level, and duty location. CTAP/ICTAP eligibles will be considered well-qualified if achieving a rating of 80 or above excluding veteran's preference points.

Selective Service: If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System, or are exempt from having to do so under the Selective Service Law. See http://www.sss.gov/ .

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