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A banner announcing that the USGS Water Mission Area is hiring for 1 usability specialist and 2 Devops positions. Apply online at USAjobs.gov. Applications open April 25th, 2022

USGS Water Mission Area 2022 Cluster Hires (updated 4/19/2022)

The U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area is hiring multiple Term Information Technology (IT) Specialist positions in Usability Research and Development-Operations (DevOps) for enterprise data delivery systems.

Apply online at USAJOBS, where the positions will open and applications will be accepted starting on April 25, 2022. The Usability Specialist vacancy is limited to the first 50 applications received and the DevOps vacancies are limited to the first 100 applications received. Each vacancy will close at midnight Eastern Time on the day the application limit is reached regardless of the closing date specified in this vacancy announcement.

For all positions, an unofficial transcript and detailed resume summarizing job qualifications and relevant skills is needed. We will continue to update this page with information, including direct links to the vacancies as soon as they are available.

For additional information, please follow the USGS Water Resources Twitter feed or attend the following informational sessions:

USAJOBS Job links and announcement numbers will be posted here when available:

Our Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Transparency

The federal hiring process is complex, but we don’t want that to be the reason you don’t apply. We are committed to inclusive hiring practices that build a healthy workplace where diversity is our strength, and everyone has the support they need to succeed. That starts right now, with us lifting the veil on the confusing process of applying for federal jobs. We especially encourage you to apply if you are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, have a disability, or are of any marginalized identity. Please read below for details on how the application process works.

New hire positions

These new term IT Specialist positions are opening in the USGS Water Web Communications Branch (hiring manager Emily Read; eread@usgs.gov). These positions will work on a cross-functional team that includes water scientists, software engineers, and design experts. Learn more about how we work here. The team makes high quality water information discoverable, accessible, and usable for everyone through web applications and APIs. Our team is committed to government tech innovation, working in the open, user-centered design, and agile methodologies. The location of the duty station for the employees is negotiable upon selection of a candidate and is remote-work friendly. The Term positions are renewable annually for up to 4 years. These jobs will be advertised under the IT Specialist job series. Learn more about the duties below.

Information Technology Specialist (Internet) - Usability Specialist

We have one (1) vacancy for an IT Specialist - Usability Specialist in this cluster hire. The role of usability research and user-centered design is core to the development of software and tools within the Web Communications Branch. Check out the findings from prior usability research in the branch here, especially under the “How do we organize our users?” header.

The Usability Specialist will plan and conduct user research on web-based products, through interviews; evaluate usability and create user needs assessments; interpret results; and communicate research findings and recommendations. The Usability Specialist will collaborate with multiple teams within and outside of the branch to achieve the goal of providing the Nation with discoverable, accessible, and usable water information for everyone. The duties of a Usability Specialist within the Web Communications Branch will include:

  • Proposing goals and objectives, implementing the strategic vision of the branch, contributing to the development of policies and strategies, and managing usability activities.

  • Determining data collection method(s), developing data collection tools (questionnaires, interview questions, etc.), analyzing the data, preparing results, and making recommendations based on this data.

  • Assisting in developing and overseeing the development of user interface designs, prototypes, and specifications across multiple platforms while working with appropriate content, technical, and marketing staff.

  • Leading the development of the testing schedule, test scenarios and other relevant test tools, recruitment of test participants, and coordination of overall testing at conferences, other conferences/meetings, and local testing.

  • Developing and publishing usability guidelines for reference throughout the product development process.

Information Technology Specialist (System Administration) - DevOps

We have two (2) vacancies for IT Specialists – DevOps in this cluster hire. The Web Communications Branch makes real-time and historical water information available through data processing pipelines, web interfaces and APIs to best meet user needs, we are working towards a continuous deployment model. To make a continuous deployment possible system administration within the Web Communication branch takes a development-operations (DevOps) approach, which includes infrastructure as code, automation of tests, static code analysis, and continuous integration. Cloud computing and cloud-native approaches to building and operating applications, such as serverless, containerization, and hosted databases. DevOps specialists within the Web Communications Branch plan, implement, and/or coordinate DevOps methods to accomplish information technology (IT) system provisioning, testing, troubleshooting, monitoring, and backup. The use of version control and experience in Agile IT software project management practices are important for the job. The DevOps Specialists will collaborate with multiple teams within and outside of the branch to achieve the goal of providing the Nation with discoverable, accessible, and usable water information for everyone. You can learn more about the tech stack that the WDFN team currently uses on this recent blog post. The duties of a DevOps Specialist the Integrated Information Dissemination Division will include:

  • Reprioritizing and allocating resources as they become available and recommending additional components to improve overall system performance.

  • Working closely with software developers and application support teams to continuously improve deployment, testing, and monitoring approaches.

  • Developing standard operating procedures for a variety of IT hardware and infrastructure tasks or activities.

  • Planning and coordinating product and equipment installation and lifecycle upgrades, overseeing and resolving technical and administrative problems, controlling current versions and future releases of hardware and applications software, and documenting the physical configuration of the systems.

  • Consulting with customers to identify priorities and best approaches for integrating systems administration requirements into daily operations.

  • Ensuring guidance and work products comply with Department and the organization's IT security requirements

Location

The location of the duty station for the employees is negotiable upon selection of a candidate.

The Process

We’re here to answer any questions you have about what we do and how to navigate the application process. HR’s application window will be tight— which is why we’re letting you know now. Each vacancy will open on Monday April 25, 2022. The Usability Specialist vacancy is limited to the first 50 applications received and the DevOps vacancies are limited to the first 100 applications received. Each vacancy will close at midnight Eastern Time on the day the application limit is reached regardless of the closing date specified in this vacancy announcement. Any application received prior to midnight Eastern Time of the day the application limit is reached will be accepted and considered. You are strongly encouraged to submit all required supporting documents at the time of application should the vacancy close earlier than stated in this announcement due to the applicant limit being reached. Supporting documents will not be accepted once the vacancy announcement closes.

Plus, we have some information that will hopefully help you navigate the process of applying to a federal job. It can get confusing, but you’re awesome and we want to get to know you!

Calculating the value of the job

General Schedule Grades – The pay and responsibilities of these Federal jobs are defined by general schedule (GS) Grades, which are roughly equivalent to the levels concept used elsewhere. The Usability Specialist will be advertised at GS-12 grade.The DevOps positions will be advertised at both the GS-9 and GS-12 level.

Pay – Salary bands are started at the Nation-wide GS Base Pay Scale and then adjusted for location. To find what salary band you’d be looking at, search “GS 2022 Salary Table + {{ Your location }}" and look at Grade 9 and/or 12. The “steps” in each grade are intermediate performance-based pay increases between grades.

Benefits – These positions include health and life insurance, 5% retirement match, 11 federal holidays, 13 sick days + 13 vacation days per year, paid parental leave, and accrual of federal service to count towards a pension (typically an additive 1% of the average of your highest 3 years of salary for each year of service). See USGS human resources pay and benefits page here for more details.

Intangibles - If the mission of public service towards advancing environmental science and data delivery resonates with you, there will be no shortage of energy and motivation available when working with great colleagues on these challenges. Likewise, a flexible schedule and emphasis on work life balance are important components to work at the USGS.

Applying for the job

Creating a USA Jobs account - All of these federal positions will be posted and filled using public vacancy announcements on usajobs.gov. If you are remotely interested in applying to any of the positions mentioned here or elsewhere, get ahead by creating an account as soon as you can. Having an active account will allow you to set up job filters and get a jump start on getting your application materials together.

Qualifying for GS 12 - This grade is a high bar, requiring a PhD or three or more years of graduate coursework or a masters degree and work experience or multiple years of experience with a Bachelor’s degree. We recognize that people with lots of different experiences will be able to excel at these jobs. That said, federal pay grades have requirements that applicants must meet for the system to pass you on to the pool that we can then review. We CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH: see USGS tips for combining graduate education and experience and spell out how you meet the grade and IT specialist job series qualifications. Some applicants may choose to attach an additional document to the application package that makes this math clear to HR.

Specialized experience - We’re using USGS’s direct hire authority (DHA) to post public positions and see a wide candidate pool. We expect a lot of applications and are planning on interviewing lots of people. By using DHA we will be able to consider any candidate who meets the minimum educational and work experience for the job series (see above) and the Specialized Experience that we’ve defined for the role. Specialized Experience includes the demonstration of specific skills for a minimum of one year, so make sure to be explicit about how you’ve met these requirements on your resume.

  • Required specialized experience for GS-12 Usability Specialist: Demonstrated evidence of independently planning, designing, and conducting user research on web-based products. Experience will include the development and administration of user research including user interviews; evaluation of usability and creation of user needs assessments; interpretation of results to increase web-based product effectiveness; development of user designs, prototypes, or user interfaces that reflect user needs and specifications based on research findings; and communication of research findings and recommendations to stakeholders and managers.

  • Required specialized experience for GS-09 DevOps Specialist: The use of development-operations (also known as “dev-ops”) methods to accomplish information technology (IT) system administration, testing, troubleshooting, monitoring, and backup; the use of automated or programmatic approaches to the development, monitoring, and troubleshooting of IT systems; the use of version control; familiarity with containerized and serverless tooling; or knowledge of “Agile” IT software project management practices. At this level, the employee can use judgment in researching, choosing, interpreting, modifying and applying the available guidelines in the course of adapting them to specific problems and issues in the specialty area.

  • Required specialized experience for GS-12 DevOps Specialist: Plans and coordinates development-operations (also known as “dev-ops”) methods to accomplish information technology (IT) system operations, administration, testing, troubleshooting, monitoring, and backup; research, consultation, and execution of programmatic, automated, and repeatable approaches to the development, optimizing, monitoring, and troubleshooting of IT systems; the use of version control; and experience in Agile IT software project management practices. At this level, the employee determines the most appropriate principles, practices and methods to apply in all phases of the assignments; and interprets regulations on their own initiative, applies new methods to resolve complex, intricate, controversial, or unprecedented IT issues and resolves most conflicts that arise.

Materials – You’ll need a resume and educational transcripts (unofficial are OK). Again, to make sure HR can see that you’re qualified, make sure your resume explicitly ties your experience to each of the qualifications listed for the grades you are applying for and also the Specialized Experience section.

Application Window – Each vacancy will open on Monday April 25, 2022, and is limited to the first 50 applications received for each of the three positions included in this cluster hire. The application window will close at midnight Eastern Time on the day this application limit is reached regardless of the closing date specified in this vacancy announcement. Any application received prior to midnight Eastern Time of the day the application limit is reached will be accepted and considered.

Timeline – After the application window closes, HR combs through applications and filters for candidates who meet the GS Grade qualifications and specialized experience. Then they’ll pass on that entire list to the hiring manager, Emily Read. The hiring manager will contact all the qualified candidates for additional information and will set up interviews, visits, or writing/code/portfolio requests. From there, they will refer a selected candidate to HR, and HR will extend an offer. After HR makes an offer, that is your chance to negotiate the offer and ultimately accept or reject it. Once negotiations are done and you accept the offer, HR will perform a background check. Then you agree to a start date and at that time your employment at the USGS begins!

Common Questions

Q: Is this open to non-U.S. citizens?

A: You must be a U.S. citizen or national (residents of American Samoa and Swains Island) to work for the Federal Government, but there are some exceptions. More information here: https://usajobs.gov/help/working-in-government/non-citizens/

Q: Should I use my CV/resume or the USAJOBS template?

A: Either is fine. Whichever format you choose, we recommend taking time to explicitly spell out how your experience meets the qualification requirements for the job series and GS level.

USGS tips on combining education and experience

Questions?

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have, we are here to help! Contact the hiring manager, Emily Read (she/her), at eread@usgs.gov.