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If terminated from federal service, can I apply for a contract position?

Expert Q&A for government and industry

By Bureaupat Oct 28 2009, 02:43 AM

Dear Bureaupat,

I was unfairly terminated from federal service. I know my chances of coming back to government are slim, but I really like government offices that work and the culture, so I'm looking to work as a contractor within a federal agency. Will my termination prohibit employment with the contractor?

Dear Switching Over,

Like in all jobs, your prospective new employer at the government contractor will be interested in your past performance. While the federal government may ask to see your SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action, as part of your application process, private sector firms typically won't.

But that does not put you entirely in the clear. You'll certainly need to provide a copy of your resume, and while you don't need to document why you left a position, depending on the timing of your termination and current job hunt, any gaps may raise questions about the end of your previous work. 

Your termination certainly does not prohibit employment with a contractor, though it may make it more difficult in some circumstances. Without knowing the position you are applying for, or the circumstances of your termination, it's impossible for me to address specifically.

If questions about past employment do come up during an interview, I recommend you answer them honestly. Be prepared with a good, succinct explanation of what happened regarding your termination, knowing that a future employer will likely check into it further before making an offer. However, if no one asks about your termination, there's no reason to bring it up.

One other thing to mention: You said in your question that your termination was unfair. Be careful not to let yourself get riled up about it again in interviews; turning overly defensive or emotional may turn off your new prospective employer. So practice, practice, practice answering a few questions about it ahead of time. That should help remove the emotion.

In the end, you're selling yourself to a future employer. Your veracity is most important, and confidence is key too. Do your homework in preparing how you might talk about your previous situation, and then do what you can to focus the interviews on the present and future. Good luck!

Yours in Gov,



Read More Q&A from Bureaupat:

[+] What is a Schedule C appointment?

[+] Can I apply for a federal job in a different state from the one I was terminated in?

[+] If fired from the federal government, can you EVER work there again?


Read More: Careers, Contracting, Self Improvement, Surviving The Bureaucracy, Dear Bureaupat













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