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Government employee thread! (Being a government employee is sweet)


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I've worked in healthcare for my entire career and recently met someone who does the same thing as me but on a military base, and he absolutely loves it. He called it a General Schedule employee and is ultimately employed by the DOD.  I got on usajobs and there are positions in my field posted.  Seriously considering doing this.  I'm not a vet and was told it would likely take some time to get my foot in the door, which I'm fine with. I have a very stable job and don't have to be in a hurry. I'm just looking for a new challenge in my career.  The guy I know said I should take a position in any location I could get in at and then just transfer to another area when it came available.  Anyone in here have experience with that? 

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Its hard dealing through USA jobs.  Its not a great system but if you are able to get a government civilian job it is very stable.  

 

There are also tricks to get through the first portion of the USA jobs site.  It is automated and scans your resume and application for key words associated with the position you are trying to get.  They are very rigid.

 

As far as transferring within the DoD system once you are hired that is quite common and easier to do once you are a GS or NH employee.

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Just now, Gally said:

Its hard dealing through USA jobs.  Its not a great system but if you are able to get a government civilian job it is very stable.  

 

There are also tricks to get through the first portion of the USA jobs site.  It is automated and scans your resume and application for key words associated with the position you are trying to get.  They are very rigid.

 

As far as transferring within the DoD system once you are hired that is quite common and easier to do once you are a GS or NH employee.

That what I was told. Guy I know helping me apply with the right wording. 

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Just now, flapgreen said:

That what I was told. Guy I know helping me apply with the right wording. 

It is for sure a game.  It goes against everything I have done with regards to a resume.  The longer the better trying to capture all of the points on the job posting.  Try and use exact phrasing from the job posting in your experience sections.  

 

There are also two different tracks depending on what type of job.  There is the GS track (essentially pay bands) or NH track.  The NH track is more technical (engineering) type jobs and has more technical training requirements but has less pay bands that are wider so it usually pays better.  The type with be listed on the job posting.  It may say pay scale of  low GS6 if its a GS track or NH-2 if its that type.  All that meana is how the pay scales work.

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11 minutes ago, flapgreen said:

 it would likely take some time to get my foot in the door, which I'm fine with. 

:lmao:

Sorry, this shouldn't be funny but you might be shocked at how long the hiring process can take.

I retired from the Army in 17, took a civilian job at a sister office (same superior organization, still Army) as my last military job. Took 5 months. Now, that did involve a waiver process and other stuff but that's still a long time. Others in similar positions took 3-4 months after I was the first to go through that waiver process. 

Now, I've applied for another position at the same base (conveniently same office as my last military position), I'm the top candidate. Interview was in April. They just asked me for paperwork needed to be hired. No moves, there's nothing inherently difficult here, but the personnel office is overworked and under competent. It may be better elsewhere but it's been taking over 4 months to hire people overseas, most of them take other positions so we start all over. 

Once you're in it's stable unless you seek promotions. Mostly good people and sometimes interesting stuff.

TBH, I don't know that I'd stay on if not for the family and good, stable hours.

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7 minutes ago, Gally said:

.  

There are also two different tracks depending on what type of job.  There is the GS track (essentially pay bands) or NH track.  The NH track is more technical (engineering) type jobs and has more technical training requirements but has less pay bands that are wider so it usually pays better.  The type with be listed on the job posting.  It may say pay scale of  low GS6 if its a GS track or NH-2 if its that type.  All that meana is how the pay scales work.

While I'm sure this is often true, it isn't always. The organization matters too. Maybe half the attorneys here are GS, the other half NH. Sometimes it depends on the organization, sometimes it just matters if you're in the union.  (Unions seem to prefer their employees staying GS)

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3 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

:lmao:

Sorry, this shouldn't be funny but you might be shocked at how long the hiring process can take.

I retired from the Army in 17, took a civilian job at a sister office (same superior organization, still Army) as my last military job. Took 5 months. Now, that did involve a waiver process and other stuff but that's still a long time. Others in similar positions took 3-4 months after I was the first to go through that waiver process. 

Now, I've applied for another position at the same base (conveniently same office as my last military position), I'm the top candidate. Interview was in April. They just asked me for paperwork needed to be hired. No moves, there's nothing inherently difficult here, but the personnel office is overworked and under competent. It may be better elsewhere but it's been taking over 4 months to hire people overseas, most of them take other positions so we start all over. 

Once you're in it's stable unless you seek promotions. Mostly good people and sometimes interesting stuff.

TBH, I don't know that I'd stay on if not for the family and good, stable hours.

Yeah, they said it's a long process. As I said, I'm in no hurry and have a stable job. Can take until next summer or longer for all I care. I'm just looking for a different environment for my career, eventually. 

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Just now, flapgreen said:

Yeah, they said it's a long process. As I said, I'm in no hurry and have a stable job. Can take until next summer or longer for all I care. I'm just looking for a different environment for my career, eventually. 

That's definitely a positive. If you're in a high demand field it can be faster. 

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1 minute ago, -OZ- said:

That's definitely a positive. If you're in a high demand field it can be faster. 

Physical Therapist. Just applying to the Navy wide and Airforce wide positions posted to start. We're pretty open to starting in one area and transferring someone else when it comes available. 

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11 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

:lmao:

Sorry, this shouldn't be funny but you might be shocked at how long the hiring process can take.

I retired from the Army in 17, took a civilian job at a sister office (same superior organization, still Army) as my last military job. Took 5 months. Now, that did involve a waiver process and other stuff but that's still a long time. Others in similar positions took 3-4 months after I was the first to go through that waiver process. 

Now, I've applied for another position at the same base (conveniently same office as my last military position), I'm the top candidate. Interview was in April. They just asked me for paperwork needed to be hired. No moves, there's nothing inherently difficult here, but the personnel office is overworked and under competent. It may be better elsewhere but it's been taking over 4 months to hire people overseas, most of them take other positions so we start all over. 

Once you're in it's stable unless you seek promotions. Mostly good people and sometimes interesting stuff.

TBH, I don't know that I'd stay on if not for the family and good, stable hours.

I  got hired on as NH-3 from a contractor.  It was for the exact same job.  It just went from contractor to Gov Civ.   It took over a year for it finally to happen.  Some of that was because my boss wanted a general engineering position but they forced it to be an electrical.  Because I didn't have an EE degree I couldn't get past the USA Jobs first eval.  It was for the exact job I was doing so I was qualified but since HR made it EE it said I wasn't (ugh).  So it had to go through that whole process for them to say they didn't find any qualified applicants.  It then got re-issued as a General Engineering spot.  Part of the initial process was supplying a college transcript.  I had been out of college for 20+ years but had an original transcript that I bought as I was graduating.  I scanned it and attached it.  After the posting closed I got a response saying I didn't provide a transcript.  Well it turns out that "official" transcript from 20 yrs ago didn't show my last quarter or date of graduation so it was rejected.  I immediately got a new one from my college and emailed it.  Well it wasn't accepted.  My boss was pissed because he didn't request a transcript.  It actually was an HR requirement that couldn't be waived.  So again it had to go through the process and peter out.  The next time it finally went fine and I got through.  The crap part was that I was doing the job and they just wanted to change it from contractor to Gov.  It shouldn't have taken that long.  Oh well, it's over now.  It was a good decision.  I had to take a bit of a pay cut but the benefits and stability are much better.  Plus the retirements aspects are better. 

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I work for the Defense Health Agency (as an architect). All of the military medical facilities are in the process of transitioning from the individual services to DHA control. So you might apply for a job with the Navy and end up onboarding with us.

The Federal hiring process is a slog. Like mentioned above, make sure your resume explicitly addresses every requirement in the announcement. The HR people who take the first sift through the applications aren't going to be familiar with technical aspects of your profession and won't necessarily be able to connect the dots unless you use the same terminology.

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4 hours ago, -OZ- said:

While I'm sure this is often true, it isn't always. The organization matters too. Maybe half the attorneys here are GS, the other half NH. Sometimes it depends on the organization, sometimes it just matters if you're in the union.  (Unions seem to prefer their employees staying GS)

Yeah it really really depends on the agency/organization and department and title.   I've always been in core comp.  Other guys just converted from GS to modified core comp a couple years ago

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13 hours ago, flapgreen said:

Physical Therapist. Just applying to the Navy wide and Airforce wide positions posted to start. We're pretty open to starting in one area and transferring someone else when it comes available. 

If you are applying to announcements with locations all over and year-long open dates, know that those are just resume dumps and not specific job openings. The chance of getting hired through one of those is extremely small.

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16 hours ago, flapgreen said:

I would be applying for a GS 12 level job. 

FYI - If you do move forward and get an offer, you can negotiate the steps within a grade.  Each grade (this one being 12) has 10 steps, and there is a worthy difference in pay between steps 1 and 10.  Most common is starting at step 1 and that's what the offer would most likely be, grade 12 - step 1.  But if you have a current or previous salary that is higher than what GS12-1 would pay, it's absolutely worth a shot to ask for 12-3, 12-5 or even 12-10, whatever is closest to that previous salary.   The first 4 steps you pretty much get at your yearly anniversary.  Then it's every two years for the next step increase.  Don't remember if steps 9 and 10 are more than 2 years, but if you start at 12-1, you're looking at 16 or more years to max out at 12-10.  So try to get a jump on that if you can.  

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38 minutes ago, beef said:

 

FYI - If you do move forward and get an offer, you can negotiate the steps within a grade.  Each grade (this one being 12) has 10 steps, and there is a worthy difference in pay between steps 1 and 10.  Most common is starting at step 1 and that's what the offer would most likely be, grade 12 - step 1.  But if you have a current or previous salary that is higher than what GS12-1 would pay, it's absolutely worth a shot to ask for 12-3, 12-5 or even 12-10, whatever is closest to that previous salary.   The first 4 steps you pretty much get at your yearly anniversary.  Then it's every two years for the next step increase.  Don't remember if steps 9 and 10 are more than 2 years, but if you start at 12-1, you're looking at 16 or more years to max out at 12-10.  So try to get a jump on that if you can.  

Also, you can negotiate having your years of private sector experience applied towards your leave accrual rate. Normal starting rate is 4 hours per pay period, and it increases to 6 hours after 3 years and 8 hours after 15.

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5 hours ago, DaVinci said:

Also, you can negotiate having your years of private sector experience applied towards your leave accrual rate. Normal starting rate is 4 hours per pay period, and it increases to 6 hours after 3 years and 8 hours after 15.

plus 4 hrs of sick time each pay period too. 

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I'm curious about this too, although my experience is in business so I'm not sure my skill set translates to a gov't job.  It would probably be a really significant pay cut, but I'm willing to do that for stability and a good retirement package.  Also, for the 1st time in my life, I'm willing to move away from NYC so now is the time if I'm going to do something really different.

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8 hours ago, flapgreen said:

It's asking me to attach some application questionnaire, but there's no actual questionnaire to fill out to attach.  Looks like I'm going to need my college transcripts from years ago as well. 

After you submit your application on USAJobs, it will redirect you to the online questionnaire.

Yes, the college transcript thing is silly. I once tried to hire a guy who was a licensed engineer and had been working for the government for over 20 years doing the exact job I was hiring him for, but HR kept giving him the runaround over his foreign transcripts. He eventually got fed up and declined the offer.

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1 minute ago, DaVinci said:

After you submit your application on USAJobs, it will redirect you to the online questionnaire.

Yes, the college transcript thing is silly. I once tried to hire a guy who was a licensed engineer and had been working for the government for over 20 years doing the exact job I was hiring him for, but HR kept giving him the runaround over his foreign transcripts. He eventually got fed up and declined the offer.

I was a contractor for 10years. They had openings, I applied for my job. Never moved desks, doing the exact same jobs, I had to supply my transcripts

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4 minutes ago, belljr said:

I was a contractor for 10years. They had openings, I applied for my job. Never moved desks, doing the exact same jobs, I had to supply my transcripts

The guy I know told me they were hiring for 3 contract positions next year in my area, but there's no guarantee once the contract is up. If I'm going to uproot my family, I'd want an actual full-time position. 

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1 minute ago, flapgreen said:

The guy I know told me they were hiring for 3 contract positions next year in my area, but there's no guarantee once the contract is up. If I'm going to uproot my family, I'd want an actual full-time position. 

I can't speak for every federal position, but here once you are in as a contractor and do a good job you are in.  Here someone will win the contract and if it's a different company they will trim the slackers and pick up everyone else.  But there still is that what if.   It's definitely safer on the other side and glad I switched

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19 minutes ago, DaVinci said:

After you submit your application on USAJobs, it will redirect you to the online questionnaire.

Yes, the college transcript thing is silly. I once tried to hire a guy who was a licensed engineer and had been working for the government for over 20 years doing the exact job I was hiring him for, but HR kept giving him the runaround over his foreign transcripts. He eventually got fed up and declined the offer.

After I fill out the questionnaire, do I need to go back to the original site and attach it or something? 

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58 minutes ago, flapgreen said:

After I fill out the questionnaire, do I need to go back to the original site and attach it or something? 

No, it automatically submits it. On some, I think it asks you to verify the attachments that were sent by USAJobs and gives you the opportunity to attach additional documents if you missed anything.

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I've been with VA for 33+ years.  Naturally the hiring process was quite different back in '87.  But, the last position I applied for in 2015 was a pain.  Filling out the forms online and submitting them was confusing, I wish you luck.

As mentioned earlier, this type of career is stable.  The leave accrual and insurance options are good.  Once onboard, transferring and moving up are always options.

 

22 hours ago, beef said:

 

FYI - If you do move forward and get an offer, you can negotiate the steps within a grade.  Each grade (this one being 12) has 10 steps, and there is a worthy difference in pay between steps 1 and 10.  Most common is starting at step 1 and that's what the offer would most likely be, grade 12 - step 1.  But if you have a current or previous salary that is higher than what GS12-1 would pay, it's absolutely worth a shot to ask for 12-3, 12-5 or even 12-10, whatever is closest to that previous salary.   The first 4 steps you pretty much get at your yearly anniversary.  Then it's every two years for the next step increase.  Don't remember if steps 9 and 10 are more than 2 years, but if you start at 12-1, you're looking at 16 or more years to max out at 12-10.  So try to get a jump on that if you can.  

It is every 3 years after step 6.

Also look at Locality Pay.  While using the same GS scales, positions around the country get paid extra based on location and cost of living. 
A GS 12 step 1 gets paid $76,721 in "Rest of US", while in San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, the same grade and step gets $93,587

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3 minutes ago, DaVinci said:

No, it automatically submits it. On some, I think it asks you to verify the attachments that were sent by USAJobs and gives you the opportunity to attach additional documents if you missed anything.

Yeah, that's where I'm at now, but I'm going to have to go back to the original website and redo some stuff. So the guy I'm talking to told me that things have to be reworded almost exactly as they are in the bullet points in the job description and then saying how many years experience in that area in those exact words. I'm confused on what section I do that in.  Is that in my resume I submit or a different section? I've also read they recommend using the build a resume option they give instead of submitting your own. Does the resume you submit need to look a certain way? 

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8 minutes ago, flapgreen said:

Yeah, that's where I'm at now, but I'm going to have to go back to the original website and redo some stuff. So the guy I'm talking to told me that things have to be reworded almost exactly as they are in the bullet points in the job description and then saying how many years experience in that area in those exact words. I'm confused on what section I do that in.  Is that in my resume I submit or a different section? I've also read they recommend using the build a resume option they give instead of submitting your own. Does the resume you submit need to look a certain way? 

The build a resume will create it in a format that looks nothing like a resume.  However, if I recall the resume just needs to be right. The format doesn't matter.  You just need keywords.

It's the 4 questionnaire that you need to touch exactly on the wording of the position

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14 minutes ago, belljr said:

The build a resume will create it in a format that looks nothing like a resume.  However, if I recall the resume just needs to be right. The format doesn't matter.  You just need keywords.

It's the 4 questionnaire that you need to touch exactly on the wording of the position

Alright, I'll try to put as many words from the job description into my resume as possible. 

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12 minutes ago, belljr said:

The build a resume will create it in a format that looks nothing like a resume.  However, if I recall the resume just needs to be right. The format doesn't matter.  You just need keywords.

It's the 4 questionnaire that you need to touch exactly on the wording of the position

This has been my experience as well.  The questionnaires are critical to get past the application screening, along with those key words (words used in the job description on USAJOBS) in the resume, to get to that "Referred" status.  Then a hiring committee usually takes over and reads the resumes and selects a group to interview.  I've been on a few hiring panels, but always finance related positions so I'm kind of assuming it may be similar.

Don't be humble on the questionnaire.  You're an expert in your field, and check the boxes that give expert level answers.  

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14 minutes ago, beef said:

This has been my experience as well.  The questionnaires are critical to get past the application screening, along with those key words (words used in the job description on USAJOBS) in the resume, to get to that "Referred" status.  Then a hiring committee usually takes over and reads the resumes and selects a group to interview.  I've been on a few hiring panels, but always finance related positions so I'm kind of assuming it may be similar.

Don't be humble on the questionnaire.  You're an expert in your field, and check the boxes that give expert level answers.  

No doubt. I've busted my ### the past 13 years to get where I am in my field. 

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42 minutes ago, beef said:

This has been my experience as well.  The questionnaires are critical to get past the application screening, along with those key words (words used in the job description on USAJOBS) in the resume, to get to that "Referred" status.  Then a hiring committee usually takes over and reads the resumes and selects a group to interview.  I've been on a few hiring panels, but always finance related positions so I'm kind of assuming it may be similar.

Don't be humble on the questionnaire.  You're an expert in your field, and check the boxes that give expert level answers.  

From what I can tell so far, this is true in interviews too. I'm used to being a key part of a team and emphasizing the team. "We did" vs "I did everything myself". This has taken getting used to, but they really want to know what you did, not the team aspect. I'm pretty sure I lost out on one job for being too humble. 

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11 hours ago, flapgreen said:

It's asking me to attach some application questionnaire, but there's no actual questionnaire to fill out to attach.  Looks like I'm going to need my college transcripts from years ago as well. 

I've been a fed for 20+ years. I started in a job that required a college degree and have advanced up the ladder some. They have (or should have) my transcript on file. Yet, as of a couple years ago, they started requiring that every application to a job that has education requirements must include a transcript. So ridiculous. I'm already in a freaking job that requires it so why do I need to repeatedly prove that!

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4 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

From what I can tell so far, this is true in interviews too. I'm used to being a key part of a team and emphasizing the team. "We did" vs "I did everything myself". This has taken getting used to, but they really want to know what you did, not the team aspect. I'm pretty sure I lost out on one job for being too humble. 

The questionnaire is just checking boxes and multiple choice thing, right? 

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After being home for many years, my wife started looking for a job. Before kids, she was an executive assistant in the private sector. So, even though it's not her dream job, she applied for some admin assistant positions on USA Jobs. Some of these are way below the equivalent level she was at before kids yet she still can't even qualify for the position to get on a cert. But, really, even if she got on a cert, she'll be on it with probably hundreds of other people and has virtually no chance at getting an interview unless she knows someone in that agency. She's mostly given up on the fed route. 

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6 minutes ago, dgreen said:

After being home for many years, my wife started looking for a job. Before kids, she was an executive assistant in the private sector. So, even though it's not her dream job, she applied for some admin assistant positions on USA Jobs. Some of these are way below the equivalent level she was at before kids yet she still can't even qualify for the position to get on a cert. But, really, even if she got on a cert, she'll be on it with probably hundreds of other people and has virtually no chance at getting an interview unless she knows someone in that agency. She's mostly given up on the fed route. 

I'm hoping the competition in my field is much less. I don't know many who have even tried that route, I hear they're in need. 

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1 minute ago, flapgreen said:

I'm hoping the competition in my field is much less. I don't know many who have even tried that route, I hear they're in need. 

Yeah, that's definitely possible and would be good for you. If there are PT announcements at various GS levels, apply for them all to maximize what level you qualify for.

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Oh, and make sure you're applying to the right job announcements. There can be multiple announcements for the exact same position. One might be for internal candidates and another for external. You want to look in the "The job is open to" section. Or, on the main search results page, look for announcements that have the little light blue icon with people on it. If you hover over the icon, it will say that it's open to all citizens. And, it may be a long shot, but check to see if you qualify for Schedule A hiring. That can be an easier path into government.

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23 minutes ago, flapgreen said:

The questionnaire is just checking boxes and multiple choice thing, right? 

I think so. I'm excepted service, so a little bit different. I'm not sure what all the differences are, but we have a slightly different process. But in general, sell yourself and don't be overly humble.

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2 hours ago, flapgreen said:

Yeah, that's where I'm at now, but I'm going to have to go back to the original website and redo some stuff. So the guy I'm talking to told me that things have to be reworded almost exactly as they are in the bullet points in the job description and then saying how many years experience in that area in those exact words. I'm confused on what section I do that in.  Is that in my resume I submit or a different section? I've also read they recommend using the build a resume option they give instead of submitting your own. Does the resume you submit need to look a certain way? 

Your job description and experience should be in the employment section of your resume. You don’t have to use the resume builder, but it would be a good idea to go through it and make sure that your personal resume contains all of the same information. Personally, I preferred getting resumes that used the resume builder so I could easily find the information I was looking for.

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  • flapgreen changed the title to Government employee thread! (Being a government employee is sweet)

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