Thursday, September 15, 2011

PMF 2012: Application Begins Today

Yes, it's that time again. The Presidential Management Fellows application process is officially open for the 2012 application year. Here's a very quick rundown of how to determine if you are eligible and what to expect. At the end of this article are the other great resources available on the web. I will be happy to answer any questions you have about the application process, assuming I know the answers, but otherwise, just let us all know whether you are going to apply or not.

The application window for this year is today, September 15, 2011 to September 25, 2011. School nominations have to be in by September 30, 2011.


To be eligible, you MUST be enrolled in a graduate program of some sort and be scheduled to complete your degree requirements between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012. Seems easy enough, right?

The Process

First, and I can't stress this enough, you have to find out who at your school handles PMF nominations. It's usually the dean of your particular program. You don't get invited to take the test unless your school nominates you. Make sure your nominating official has all the information he/she needs to complete the nomination. All of the materials you need can be found on the PMF website.

Second, go over to the job listing on USAJOBS and apply for the program. You can find it here:

Third, make sure all of your documents are saved all the way through on Application Manager. You can provide corrected documents if you need to, but sometimes they require processing time. In that case, it's better to get your application in early.

And fourth, let us know here or on GovLoop that you've applied. We like to have conversations here about the experience and what everyone else is going through. And since I have been through the process myself, there are things I can probably help you with. Good luck, everyone!



  1. Great blog -- love the graphs.

    I'm applying, though I'm feeling discouraged after seeing the breakdown by field -- seems there's little demand for biologists. Too bad we don't have data on the fields of folks that didn't make it to the finalist stage. I'm hoping that biologists are as underrepresented as applicants as we are as finalists.

    I found the following on a blog at, and I was wondering if you could speak to the veracity it.

    "First, I submitted my application on USAJobs. The key is to use the resume builder, this is super important because it makes your resume searchable for recruiters. Also, note this initial uploading of your resume has nothing to do with getting through the first two testing rounds. It will be used later on for agencies to find you."


  2. Hi Michael,

    I'm another biologist applying for the PMF! I think part of the reason there aren't a whole lot of scientists getting PMFs is that its really not adverstised to us by our programs (no one in my department had ever heard of it and alost no one in Arts & Sciences at my school had, either). Beyond that, traditional bio graduate programs often train people for benchwork -- not exactly what the goverment is looking for. That being said, I know of a few ecologists and MPHs who have been selected as PMFs, so its not unheard of for scientists to be selected.

  3. I suspect it's as MissBirdy suggested. It's a combination of under-marketing to science programs and under-representation in the applicant pool. I doubt that scientists do worse on the exam and in person assessment than those in other fields.

    As far as the USAJOBS resume, it's not important to have it in USAJOBS, per se, because PMF recruiters use a completely different system to view PMF resumes, but it can be helpful to use that format as a guideline for structuring the information you have to present. For the time being, you might as well get used to that format, because it's not going away any time soon.

    And it's true that your resume is not used until you reach finalist status. The current application year is still operating on the legacy of a school nomination, which means the nominator is supposed to have reviewed your resume to help establish your fit for the program. Since each school handles this differently, it's possible that nobody will really look to see what's on your resume unless and until you become a finalist. This is me musing now, but given the gap between application and finalist notification (much less job fair and the long summer afterward), and the fact that finalists end up jumping through sometimes frustrating hoops to keep those documents updated, I wonder whether it's even effective to ask for a document that won't be reviewed until a later stage of the process.

  4. Can I apply for other USA Jobs positions at the same time? Should I hold off? Obviously there are questions on special hiring authorities that relate to PMF.


  5. There's no reason you can't submit applications to other jobs while moving through the PMF process. There is no special status for you until you are a finalist, though.

  6. question: on application manager under checklist it has written test, assessment questionnaire, external assessment, and resume as the required documents. Resume and questionnaire are checked off, and written test and external assessment have 'no results yet.' Is the external assessment my schools nomination?

  7. I too am very confused by the confirmation process of nomination form receipt. My school has submitted the form via fax as per the directions twice and the "Confirmation" section on the checklist still reads "Not received." I believe the school director when he says that the form was faxed. Is anyone else having the same problem? I'm not a fan of the faxing process as one can only hope that there isn't a glitch in the submission process.

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  10. Just applied for 2012 PMF and was almost tricked by an interesting glitch. I was using Chrome when I submitted the resume and applied for the job in USAJOBs. When that bumped me over to it told me my browser was unsupported (and to try AOL7, IE7, Netscape or Firefox 1...hmm....). So I opened up Firefox (V3) and copied the link address from Chrome. I filled out the questionnaire but found that no resume was attached to the application. At this point, I thought it meant I hadn't uploaded one (which was normal b/c it was supposed to come from USA jobs). Lucky for me I decided to be extra careful and copy/ reformat my USAJOBS resume to upload (took me an hour), and did so successfully. Only then did I think to try reapplying for the job via USAJOBS in Firefox. This did the trick, USAJOBS let me reapply and attached my online resume to the application I had started in application manager (along with the one I had needlessly uploaded). So, watch out Chrome (Opera, Safari &tc) users!

  11. Funny thing. I turned in my PMF nomination form on 9/8/11 and my school lost it, sending me an email this morning saying that I failed to turn it in.

    After submitting emails that showed that I sent it in, everything was cleared up...but...but....a lesson to all, double check that your administration turned in your form :)

    All you can do is laugh really...

  12. I don't think I can stress that point enough (for future applicants). Check, double check, triple check to make sure it's all there before the deadline.

  13. Hello. I'm a new applicant and was just told by my school that I have been nominated. One question I have concerns open positions. I haven't had much time to research exactly who gets placed where and for how much. I'm currently in the IT field and would like to move into the Cybersecurity field working for the government. Preferably for the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. I understand the government is short of qualified individuals in this area. Do IT PMFs have success filling these positions? Also, I just read about an IT PMF that was just created this year. Any info on that?

  14. @adelphi_sky: I can tell you from experience that IT is highly sought after and vastly underrepresented in PMFs. If you have decent qualifications, I doubt you'll have a hard time finding something, and in some cases, agencies might come looking for you. Also, IT security is critical in every agency, so if that's something you're interested in, I think you stand a pretty good chance.

    I am not sure what you mean about an "IT PMF," but I suspect you mean special direct-hire authority for IT Specialists (GS Series 2210). That exists, and it's separate from the PMF program, but you have to apply to each direc-hire job separately. Here's a link to get you started if that's what you want to do:

  15. That link didn't work. Copy and paste this instead:

  16. Here is the article:

    "As part of the 25-point plan to reform federal IT, the Chief Information Officers Council in collaboration with the Office of Personnel Management has announced the kickoff of the 2-year paid Technology Fellows Program."


    "The tech fellows will be part of the Presidential Management Fellows Program, which VanRoekel said has been placing post-graduate talent in the executive agencies for more than 30 years."

  17. Hello all-- Just applied; and feeling cautiously optimistic that I will be nominated. My department's nomination process is extremely competitive.

    Good luck to all--


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  19. i applied, was nominated (though that doesn't seem to be reflected on my application status on usajobs), and was just sent a link to the online assessment. but now i'm confused because the online assessment appears to be 3 sections:

    1. situational judgement
    2. life experience
    3. writing sample

    there is no critical thinking section like in past years. and only the writing sample is scored. do i understand this correctly? have they changed the assessment format?

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  22. Hello all,

    Does anyone know if everyone receives the email on the same day, or if it is possible to have a lag time for the email? Any info would be great. Thanks!

  23. Hello! I've also not received any email from PMF regarding the assessment. Getting nervous!

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  25. Crap. When taking the written portion, I was cut off on the last concluding sentence. I knew I should not have added one more "powerful" line. :) I hope that does not disqualify me from the process (although I am sure I will get a negative mark). The overall essay was 250+ and well written, so hopefully the well written nature of the essay will count for something.

    What say you experts?

  26. So, it is the 7th and I still have not received an email-- according to the PMF website I should have received an email no matter what; either with a link to the assessment, or to let me know that I did not qualify. But I have not received anything. I emailed them but have not received an answer. Has this happened to anyone else??

  27. I was wondering how much of a chance MBA students have to become a PMF. I applied and have been nominated, and I also took the online assessment. Any thoughts would be wonderful!