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Friday, December 13, 2019

Become a PMF

Find a Job

Congratulations on becoming a Finalist! You are now eligible to find a PMF appointment in a participating Federal agency. And while it’s undoubtedly exciting, navigating the process of finding a PMF appointment can also be challenging, especially if you are new to civil service. The PMF Program Office will schedule informational webinars and invite Finalists shortly after the official selection and announcement of Finalists. With these in mind, we encourage you to take some time to thoroughly review the information below as you prepare to search for an appointment and begin your Federal career. We also encourage you to review the “Finalist Checklist,” a one-pager highlighting the most important steps to keep in mind; which can be found on the Become a PMF\Resources webpage.

Appointment Eligibility

Finalists have an eligibility period of 12 months to obtain a PMF appointment. That period begins on the day that Finalists are announced. For example, Finalists for the PMF Class of 2020 were selected on November 26, 2019, and they have until November 26, 2020, to be appointed to a PMF position. This means the Finalist must have either applied for a PMF position, accepted a PMF appointment offer, or started a PMF appointment by the appointment eligibility deadline. See below for additional information regarding appointment eligibility extensions.

Finding Appointment Opportunities

Once you secure an appointment with a participating Federal agency and that agency records your appointment in the PMF TMS (Talent Management System), your status changes from “Finalist” to “Fellow.” Participating Federal agencies post PMF appointment opportunities in the PMF TMS for Finalists to view. Finalists should log into their applicant user account under the Apply Site of the PMF TMS at https://apply.pmf.gov to search for available appointment opportunities. Only current Finalists can access and view appointment opportunities.

A number of appointment opportunities are posted around the time Finalists are selected and officially announced. Appointment opportunities are posted throughout the year and based on agency need. The PMF Program Office works with all participating Federal agencies to identify and post their positions, and encourages agencies to bundle their positions when Finalists are announced as much as possible. Additional appointment opportunities may become available as agencies adjust their budgets and staffing levels.

Finalists should monitor the PMF TMS for new appointment opportunities and contact Agency PMF Coordinators for any questions and information around future appointment opportunities. Finalists are also sent an automated digest email the day after an appointment opportunity was posted live by an agency; however, only those Finalists who opted-in to receive automated emails will receive these digest emails. To make sure that Finalists are getting these notifications, Finalists can opt-in to receive automated emails by adjusting their settings on the Apply Site.  

Finalists are encouraged to be proactive and network to learn more about potential opportunities and others’ experiences. Many Finalists have found success by reaching out to current PMFs, PMF Alumni, Agency PMF Coordinators, or other contacts within Federal agencies in which they are interested to learn more about finding a PMF position.

There are a number of PMF social media groups where Finalists may reach out to gain valuable perspective from current Fellows and alumni. Finalists can search for these on-line.

Agency PMF Coordinators

Each participating Federal agency identifies an Agency PMF Coordinator who manages the PMF Program at the agency level and who serves as a liaison between the agency and the PMF Program Office; not all Federal agencies participate in the PMF Program. If you do not see an Agency PMF Coordinator for a sub-agency, contact the Agency PMF Coordinator at the agency (headquarters) level. The PMF Program is intended for Federal agencies within the Executive Branch; however, we do allow participation by other Federal agencies in the Legislative or Judicial Branches to participate.

To view the current List of Agency PMF Coordinators, click on the following link:  https://apply.pmf.gov/coordinators.aspx. You may want to bookmark this webpage for future reference. Participating Federal agencies and Agency PMF Coordinators change frequently and you should check often for any updates.

In addition to reaching out to Agency PMF Coordinators, Finalists can learn more about Federal agencies that participate in the PMF Program, and the scope of the work and mission of those agencies, by visiting their agency profile page via the “Explore” page. The agency profile pages include agency information, resources, any live appointment or training opportunities, and the contact information for all Agency PMF Coordinators; the content is maintained by the Agency PMF Coordinator. To find these agency profile pages, log in to the Apply Site of the PMF TMS and click on “Explore.”

Placement Eligibility

To be eligible for placement as a Fellow with a participating Federal agency, Finalists must minimally:

  1. Complete all advanced degree requirements by August 31st of the year following the application period, and before starting a PMF position;
  2. Meet the qualifications of the PMF position; and
  3. Complete any background investigation required by the hiring agency.

If a Finalist does not complete their advanced degree requirements on or before August 31st, he/she will be ineligible for placement as a PMF and will lose their appointment eligibility as a Finalist.

When a Finalist accepts a PMF appointment offer, the appointing agency's Human Resources Office is responsible for validating a Finalists' transcript to ensure all degree requirements have been met before the Finalist can physically start their appointment as a PMF (commonly referred to as onboarding).

As a reminder, eligibility for a PMF appointment will end 12 months from the date that Finalists are officially announced. The PMF Program does not allow for extensions/deferrals when a Finalist does not complete the degree requirements (including the successful completion/defense of any required thesis/dissertation) by the deadline.

A Finalist with a master's degree would typically meet the minimum qualifications for a GS-09 (or equivalent) position and a Finalist with a professional or doctorate degree would typically meet the minimum qualifications of a GS-11 (or equivalent) position. Qualifications are based on education, experience, or a combination of those two factors. Such determination is based by the hiring agency and Finalists should direct any questions regarding qualifications and grade level with the Human Resources Specialist for the agency recruiting for the position.

Throughout the appointment eligibility period, we will send broadcast emails to all current Finalists to check their status and ensure our records are up to date. The Finalists' Status Email will ask if they: (1) have accepted a tentative PMF appointment offer from an agency, (2) have already accepted a PMF appointment and physically on-boarded with the appointing agency, or (3) withdrawing from further consideration.

Next Steps

Photo of job fair

Here are a few immediate things to keep in mind as Finalists begin the process of securing a PMF Position with an agency. It can take a few weeks to pass a Federal background investigation and/or several months to obtain a security clearance (if applicable). This is highly dependent on the background security requirements and clearance levels required at each agency. Because you'll want to have as much control as possible over when you start your PMF position, it is important to plan ahead. Finalists should:

  1. Review this entire webpage and FAQs.
  2. Keep your contact information and resume updated via your applicant user account on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS
  3. Search for and begin applying to PMF appointment opportunities on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS
  4. Start collecting information for the background investigation (see additional information below)

As referenced above, be sure to review the “Finalist Checklist” for additional information.

Keep Your Contact Info Updated

The majority of communications from the PMF Program Office and participating Federal agencies are conducted by email. Both current Finalists and Fellows maintain their current contact information by logging into their applicant user account on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS. Upon appointment as a Fellow, the Agency PMF Coordinator from the appointing agency must initially record your appointment and work contact information. The PMF Program Office may record appointment information on behalf of any Agency PMF Coordinator or Finalist/Fellow. Fellows can view their appointment information by logging into the Apply Site. We strongly encourage Finalists to update their contact information to include an email address where you can successfully be reached.  Many Finalists at this stage switch their email address from an “.edu” account to an email address where they can be reached even after they graduate.

Update Your Resume and Application Documents

Finalists may upload an updated resume on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS; only the most current version will be accessible by registered agency users. Finalists may send updated resumes and/or new supporting documents directly to the contact identified in the appointment opportunity if requested. Finalists should follow the instructions in the appointment opportunity on what documents to submit for consideration.

If a Finalist has a change to their claim for veterans' preference (e.g., updated supporting documentation), he/she should send an email to the PMF Program Office via pmfapplication@opm.gov, along with a copy of the updated documents. We will review and re-adjudicate accordingly.

Prepare for a Background Investigation

All new hires into the Federal Government must complete some level of a background investigation before being issued government identification and/or starting their position. If you are offered an appointment, the appointing agency's Human Resources Office will send you the necessary paperwork and instructions. The PMF Program Office does not initiate or perform background investigations.

These investigations can be lengthy and may require you to provide extensive information regarding your background. Completing an investigation can take anywhere from weeks to several months. The most common Standard Forms (SF) used by Federal agencies is the SF 85, Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions, or the SF 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions. You are highly encouraged to review these forms and start collecting the requested data ahead of time so that you are prepared just in case. Some Federal agencies require agency-specific forms for this purpose; if this is the case, they will inform you. Common forms used for background investigations can be found under the Become a PMF\Resources section.

Keep in mind that it is common for background investigations to be much longer than normal for higher-level security clearances and for those with any overseas activity (e.g., attended school overseas, resided overseas, relatives overseas, military stationed overseas, etc.). Depending upon the circumstance, it is possible that prior background investigations will not transfer from one Federal agency to another and many agencies have unique requirements.

The background investigation process can be lengthy and expensive for the hiring agency. If a Finalist changes their mind after accepting a PMF appointment offer, he/she should immediately notify the Agency PMF Coordinator and agency contact identified in the appointment opportunity.

The PMF Program Office is not involved in the background investigation process and cannot answer any questions in this regard. Finalists should contact the Agency PMF Coordinator for questions and the status of their background investigation. Finalists are not able to initiate or fund their own background investigation. The level of the background investigation is based on how the position is classified as and the agency's policies and procedures. General information about background investigations can be found on USAJOBS at https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/faq/job-announcement/security-clearances/.

Upon Appointment

Once a Finalist accepts a tentative PMF appointment offer, he/she should complete the OPM Form 1306, PMF Appointment Intake Form. This form collects basic appointment information for updating the PMF TMS (e.g., the PMF appointment opportunity announcement number, anticipated start date, position title, job series, grade level, agency/sub-agency, and/or name and email address of supervisor). Finalists are encouraged to immediately fill out the form and submit to the PMF Program Office and Agency PMF Coordinator of the appointing agency upon formal acceptance of a PMF appointment offer. Finalists may not know all of the initial appointment information and may submit updates along the way.

Ultimately it is the Agency PMF Coordinator of the appointing agency who is responsible for entering appointment information in the PMF TMS; however, the PMF Program Office may enter such information to assist Coordinators and Finalists. The form can be found under the Become A PMF\Resources section.

Based on this information, the Finalist's status will be updated in the PMF TMS. Your status as a Finalist changes to a Fellow once you accept or start your appointment and/or when the appointment information is recorded in the PMF TMS. Once a Finalist is recorded as accepting a PMF appointment offer, he/she will no longer have access to search for appointment opportunities and their status changes to "Appointed". Once a Finalist onboards as a Fellow, he/she would log into the Apply Site of the PMF TMS to search for other opportunities (e.g., rotational and training). The 2-year fellowship begins on the first day of onboarding as a PMF/Fellow.

Appointment Eligibility Extensions

Hiring agencies (via their Agency PMF Coordinator) may formally request an appointment eligibility extension for a Finalist who has either (1) been made a tentative PMF appointment offer AND accepted the offer, but cannot onboard as a PMF by the applicable appointment eligibility deadline, or (2) to a Finalist who applied for an advertised PMF appointment opportunity and the agency has not yet conducted interviews and/or made tentative appointment offers prior to the appointment eligibility period deadline.

If the PMF Program Office approves such a request, the extension is only valid for that Finalist and the Federal agency making the request. If, for whatever reason, the requesting agency rescinds the offer, the extended Finalist will lose further consideration if the appointment eligibility deadline has passed. The Finalist must still meet eligibility and the position's qualifications.

A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) on this topic for Finalists appears under the Become a PMF\FAQs section and for agencies under the Agencies\FAQs section.

The Agency PMF Coordinator for the appointing agency is responsible for submitting requests and keeping all parties informed on the status. The process for requesting and managing appointment eligibility extensions is automated and built into the PMF TMS. Finalists are notified of any such requests and their status. Finalists may have more than one pending or approved appointment eligibility extension; however, once he/she is recorded as appointed, any remaining extensions will be void.

Withdraw from Further Consideration

Finalists can withdraw from further consideration anytime during their 12 months of appointment eligibility by logging into their applicant user account on the Apply Site.

Some Finalists withdraw for a variety of reasons, such as: (1) will not complete their qualifying advanced degree requirements (including the successful defense/completion of any required thesis/dissertation) by the deadline, (2) wish to pursue higher education, (3) obtained employment elsewhere, or (4) for personal reasons.

Visit the next section to view information on the Hiring Event.

UPDATED:  11-21-2019