The civilian hiring process demystified

  • Published
  • By Kelly Lane
  • 934th Airlift Wing civilian personnel chief
Have you ever wondered what the process is to get a federal job in the Air Force? Does it seem overwhelming to you?

To most people, this process is intimidating and confusing and if you have not been through it before can seem discouraging. The 934th Airlift Wing Civilian Personnel office is here to help to alleviate some of the stress and confusion on how the process works, specifically for the Air Force.

As a hiring official, when a position opens up or is vacant, the hiring official will speak to a staffing specialist to discuss what they are looking for in regards to filling the position. The staffer will ensure the hiring official has all the information they need to fill out the Request for Personnel Action (RPA) that initiates the job announcement. The RPA checklist comes from the Personnel database called Business Objects. A properly annotated RPA includes a current position description, how they want to advertise (internal AF vs. external) and any other requirements for the position that would need to be included (any PCS expenses that would be offered, security clearance requirements, etc.)

Once the RPA checklist has been completed, the staffing specialist will verify that all data for the position being announced matches the Unit Manpower Document (UMD) and is authorized and valid. At this point, the RPA is processed though Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS) and forwarded to the servicing classification office.

The process will vary slightly if the position is an Air Reserve Technician, particularly if it is for an Officer. RPA and checklists are forwarded to Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for recruitment actions. AFPC forwards to USA Jobs Staffing for vacancy announcement and it is posted on USA Jobs website ( for a certain period of time (usually about a week) before it is closed to all applicants.

At the point the position is advertised on USA Jobs, an applicant may apply by following the instructions posted on that position announcement on the website. Usually, you can apply online or fax in your information, but the easiest way to apply is to have an established account with USA Jobs and upload your current resume, DD214, transcripts, etc. This way, when you apply for any position, your documents are all ready to upload and the process will take much less time. There will typically be a questionnaire to fill out to cover qualifications for the applicant to verify if they meet the requirements of the position. Applicants will be screened by staffers at AFPC and anyone who has the credentials will be put on a document that will be sent to the hiring official certifying those candidates as qualified for the job at that point. The hiring official will make a selection (and in some cases an alternate selection in the event that the first candidate turns down the position). The selection document (cert) will be sent back to AFPC for validation and processing a tentative offer for the selected applicant. Once the selectee accepts the tentative offer (via email), AFPC will send them Onboarding access (personnel system to bring on new employees) and let them know what is required of them to start the official onboarding to the position.

The Civilian Personnel Office initiates required assessments, such as military qualifications (for ART positions), background checks, drug tests (if applicable to position), etc. Once selectee completes Onboarding, the staffing specialist reviews and approves to submit final to AFPC. AFPC will then send the selectee a firm offer with an Entrance on Duty date (EOD). This is the hiring process in a nutshell and of course all positions are a little different depending on requirements, but if you have any questions regarding how the process works, feel free to call you Civilian Personnel office at 612-713-1481 and we will be happy to assist you!

As a last note that is very significant to mention; due to the current budget situation, the Air Force is actually in the middle of a hiring freeze that was effective Jan 16. What this actually means is that we can still hire, but positions must be mission essential and justified at this particular time. The process remains very much the same after we get past the justification for hiring part; basically getting headquarters approval that we can hire for a particular position allows us to continue with the standard process that was discussed in this blog.