Help! (Anyone have any insight into Air Force hiring civilians?)

So, I’m not a very prolific poster and most of you don’t know me from Satan, but I know there’s a number of military folk on the board, and I need help.

I’ve recently moved from NYC to Frederick, MD, to take a very cool biology position at the National Cancer Institute, which is located in Fort Detrick. This is a great career move for me.

Unfortunately this move has meant that my boyfriend had to leave his excellent job in New York, and he’s been having trouble finding something suitable here. He’s been working for years in high-pressure financial printing, doing things like merger documents, Security Exchange Commision filings, mortgage resale deals, etc. - all things that have to be done fast and right. He’s superb - he started out as a proofreader, but the company he worked for has been so impressed with his skills, they’ve kept giving him more responsibility. For the past couple years, he’s been promoted to supervisor for the compostion department, which means he’s been overseeing the proofreaders and typesetters and allocating workflow between offices all over the world.

Unfortunately, the local printing scene is much more oriented towards Kinkos. Also unfortunately, he never finished college, so despite his extensive experience in printing, he doesn’t look very good on paper.

Just now, we noticed a job posting for a senior technical editor for the Air Force Medical Evaluation Support. This is exactly the sort of thing he excells at, since they’re looking for someone to coordinate document flow, publication, and quality control from techinical writers all over the country. Not only would he be great at it, but they want someone here in Fort Detrick to directly interface with the Air Force staff, which would be incredibly convenient.

So I’m begging for help from all of you Dopers (military and non-military)! How do we make his resume stand out? Is there a good way to get past the lack of college degree? The hiring is through SAIC - a civilian company that supplies scientific support staff for the military. Does anyone have any experience with them? Should we try to bypass them and find the Air Force people who he’d actually be working with? Or would that be invasive?

Any and all advice appreciated!


There’s a good reason they’re hiring through SAIC. The job is, much like my job*, a SETA contract (Science, Engineering, Technical and Administrative) and it’s how the DoD avoids hiring someone for a 30-year career when the need for the position may “only” be for five or ten years. Also, if it was hired direct through DoD, the hiring process could take 6 months to a year.

Basically a SETA contract means that he’ll be an SAIC employee, and SAIC will bill the government for his hours. That means that his duties will be whatever the government sponsor asks him to do, but he will also likely have administrative duties through his company (like filling out timecards and taking computer security training).

I don’t think the government sponsor is allowed to express a preference for the person being hired lest everyone run afoul of gov’t hiring regs, which are Byzantine and so incredibly mind-bogglingly fair as to be useless in actually discriminating based on things like demonstrated talent.

My suggestion is to figure out exactly what the position calls for, and tailor his resume to meet that description. If it says “Must demonstrate ability to handle large technical publications like a zookeeper handles bears,” then you re-write one bullet on his resume to say “Handled large technical publications for XYZ, as a zookeeper might handle a bear.” The government might prefer that he not have a degree because of the cost savings, but SAIC may get better profit margin from someone with a degree; if SAIC says the position requires a college degree, then his best bet is to look for other work near the base that will support a part-time return to college. But if he meets the requirements, a tailored resume, a desire to do the work, and a good interview will probably get him hired.

Good luck!

    • I’m in a sub-category called UARC but it’s the same idea.

Military type here–and in Civil Engineering, we deal with a lot of civilians and contracts.

Make sure to emphasize the experience he’s had, especially with other government entities–the SEC, the Department of Justice, etc. Government experience like that will help on those applications.

Another buzzword I’ve heard is “Palace Acquire”: it’s an Air Force program for bringin in intern-level or entry-level management civil service into the system. I’ll dig up a link for you (and all interested Dopers later!) but it’s a good program. Here’s an initial link for AF Civilian Interns .

I’ll see what I might be able to find today at work. Also, have you looked at USA Jobs.Gov?

Active duty, Chairborne Qualified, PowerPoint Ranger


I’ll pass your information along, including the job sites. He has no particular urge to work for the military per se, but this editorial job is so perfectly suited to his talents and practically walking distance from our house. However, those sites look like great resources where he might find something else good, if this one doesn’t pan out.


If anyone knows how to contact Airman Doors, may have some valuable insight. I think he’s like Tripler – actually still in the service, isn’t he?

Papa Tiger left SAIC last year after 12 years with the company to move to a government position; all I can say is good luck with their personnel people. They can be insanely noncommunicative. It’s a pretty decent company to work for, however.

As as for the lack of college degree, stress the equivalent experience. Papa Tigs never got a college degree, either, but he was in a fairly senior management position at one of their sites based on his many years of experience in his field.

The one caveat: If the job posting does not offer the option of equivalent experience to the college degree, you may be out of luck because the customer (in this case, the government) may be insisting on the degree. At one point Papa Tiger was laid off for a few months when the contract he was on downsized, and he couldn’t apply for a number of internal jobs he was insanely qualified for because there was no getting around the degree. So read the job listing very, very carefully!

If you’d like more specific advice on how to deal with the company, email me (it’s in my profile) and I can pass on specific questions to Papa Tiger. He may even know the SAIC managers involved and might be able to offer some input on how to get best noticed.

ETA: Oh, and no, there’s no point going around the SAIC personnel process; it won’t do you any good. It’s a huge company and has a bureaucracy nearly the size of the government’s, and trying to bypass it is just an exercise in frustration. [/voice of experience]

Update: the Albuquerque guy’s assistant has emailed my boyfriend, telling him to expect a call from the Frederick guy for an interview. So I’m not sure yet, but he may have made it past the first step!