How does the federal hiring freeze affect you?

Questions and answers from the Partnership for Public Service.

Should students continue applying for federal jobs? Yes! The freeze will eventually end and at that point applicants will again be considered for and offered positions. This may or may not occur in 90 days, pending the OMB/OPM plan. Many agencies may continue reviewing applications and conducting applicant assessments during the hiring freeze, although they cannot officially make offers until it ends.

What if an application is currently under review? Students are encouraged to follow up with the HR contact listed on the job opportunity announcement to see where they stand in the process; however, many federal HR employees are waiting for specific agency guidance and may not be able to provide any additional information at this time.

What if a student has a job offer on the table? Job offers made prior to January 22 with a start date before February 22 will be honored. Offers made prior to January 22 with start dates (confirmed or unconfirmed) after February 22 will be decided on a case-by-case basis and must be reviewed by the agency leader. Students in this situation should reach out to their federal HR point of contact for more information.

Are certain programs exempted? Agency leaders can exempt positions deemed necessary to national security (including foreign relations) and public safety (including essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property). These exemptions will be decided on a case-by-case basis and students should check with agencies. Students who take unpaid internships may not be impacted by the freeze since they aren’t being brought on as full-time employees, but they should verify that with the agency. A more complete breakdown of relevant exemptions are noted in this article.

What about the Pathways Programs? Are they still hiring? Pathways Internship and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) programs are exempted from the freeze – great news for students and PMF finalists! These appointments are still provisional and conversion is not guaranteed, as noted in the OMB/OPM guidance. Pathways Recent Graduate positions are not exempted and are still subject to the hiring freeze.

Current employees under the Pathways Programs are still eligible for conversion to full-time positions. For example, a Pathways Intern or Recent Graduate currently serving in government can still be converted while the hiring freeze is in place, since these jobs often begin with a temporary appointment that is later converted to permanent.

I heard that national security and public safety careers aren't affected. Is that true? Positions related to national security and public safety may be exempted from the freeze and are determined by agency leaders. Students should check with agencies to determine if hiring still is taking place for posted national security and public safety positions. More specifically, federal civilian personnel jobs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency are exempted from the freeze, meaning they are still hiring – good news for students interested in intelligence and cyber careers!

Be sure to contact the Career Development Center if you have any questions or concerns.