Public Affairs Specialist

Washington, D.C
Jan 22, 2021
Jan 26, 2021
Full Time


This position is in the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Public Affairs (OPA) located in Washington, DC. This position is inside the bargaining unit.

Learn more about this agency


For the GS-12:
  • Consults on agency media events including news conferences and briefings, conference call interviews, photo sessions and other events involving the media. Keeps agency executives apprised of key issues, messaging and concerns regarding agency activities and press coverage.
  • Researches, plans and writes public affairs materials addressing the Department's policies, programs and significant issues to groups or individuals that may react negatively to DOL actions.
  • Serves as agency media spokesperson. Independently responds to media inquiries received about the agency; uses personal judgment and expert-level knowledge about the agency and its laws, policies, programs, and activities.
  • Plans, develops and writes news releases, articles, op-eds, blogs, letters-to-the-editor, and other messages for the Secretary and other Departmental officials, publications, scripts for AV products and other communication materials addressing DOL's policies, programs or issues.
  • Establishes and maintains highly effective working relationships with representatives of the print and electronic media; various private sector groups, some of whom are indifferent or opposed to DOL programs or requirements; other Federal, State and local government offices, and other Departmental personnel.

For the GS-13:
  • Provides expert-level support in articulating the agency's message, philosophy, and position on program issues and agency activities; handles highly complex, controversial and sensitive issues.
  • Develops and implements comprehensive news media plans and activities; use highly effective oral and written communication skills; provide direct advice and assistance to the agency executives on all matters pertaining to the news media.
  • Serves as a media spokesperson and establishes and maintains effective working relationships with representatives of the print and electronic news media as well as the Department's executive, program, and public affairs staff.
  • Responds orally and in writing to requests for information from new media, using personal judgment and expert-level knowledge about the agency and its laws, policies, programs, and activities.
  • Arranges media events, including news conferences and briefings, conference call interviews, photo sessions and other events involving the news media.
  • Reviews and evaluates a wide range of public information material prepared by OPA's national public affairs staff members and agency communication and outreach staff, including DOL programs for labor issues that are complex in nature; incumbent analyzes the content and presentation style to determine whether the material meets the objective and scope of the assignment in terms of coverage, balance, suitability of expression and presentation as well as factual accuracy and conformance to DOL policy.
  • Researches, plans and writes public affairs materials addressing the Department's policies, programs, and significant issues to groups or individuals that may react negatively to DOL actions.

Travel Required

25% or less - Occasional travel

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential
13 - There is no obligation to provide future promotions to you if selected. Promotions are dependent on your ability to perform duties at a higher level, meet all the performance requirements and the supervisor's recommendation to the next grade.


Conditions of Employment

  • Position requires a Moderate Risk background
  • Requires a probationary period if the requirement has not been met.
  • Must be at least 16 years old and an U.S. Citizenship.
  • Appointment to this position may require a background investigation.

Applicants must meet time-in-grade, time-after-competitive-appointment and qualifications requirements within 30 calendar days after the closing date of the vacancy to be eligible for consideration for selection.

Federal Employees Please Note: Your SF-50 must include enough information to be able to determine that time-in-grade requirements have been met and reflects your position title, pay plan/series/grade, tenure and the type of appointment (i.e. competitive/excepted). In some cases you may need to submit more than one SF-50.

Reference the "Required Documents" section for additional requirements.

Additional selections may be made from this vacancy announcement.


For the GS-12:

Applicants must have 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level, GS-11, in the Federal Service.

Specialized experience is defined as experience assisting with different communication mediums, including the ability to draft and edit news releases, blogs, social media, and other materials as well as experience participating in media interviews with news organizations.

For the GS-13:

Applicants must have 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level, GS-12, in the Federal Service.

Specialized experience is defined as experience of communication principles, methods, practices and techniques, analytical methods, and interpersonal relationship practices to share in the conduct of an active public affairs program, as well as experience in various public speaking methods, and the ability to address a variety of audiences some in structured settings and unstructured settings where the participants have conflicting and divergent views or inputs. Specialized experience at the GS-13 level includes expert skill in writing and editing content for news releases, blogs, and material prepared for digital platforms and other content as required for websites.


Education is not a substitute for experience at the GS-12 or GS-13 levels.

Any applicant falsely claiming an academic degree from an accredited school will be subject to actions ranging from disqualification from federal employment to removal from federal service.

If your education was completed at a foreign college or university, you must show comparability to education received in accredited educational institutions in the United States and comparability to applicable minimum course work requirements for this position. Click Evaluation of Foreign Education for more information.

Additional information

DOL seeks to attract and retain a high performing and diverse workforce in which employees' differences are respected and valued to better meet the varying needs of the diverse customers we serve. DOL fosters a diverse and inclusive work environment that promotes collaboration, flexibility and fairness so that all individuals are able to participate and contribute to their full potential.


How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

Click here for Evaluation details. For Displaced Employees ONLY: if you meet the eligibility requirements for special priority selection under ICTAP / CTAP , you must be well-qualified for the position to receive consideration for special priority selection. ICTAP/CTAP eligibles will be considered "well-qualified" if they attain at least a rating score of 85 in a numerical rating scheme. Be sure to review DOL Account Eligibility Questions #24 to reflect that you are applying as a ICTAP or CTAP eligible and submit supporting documentation.

Evaluation Factors (Competencies) - All qualified applicants will be evaluated on the following key competencies:

Problem Solving: Identifies problems; determines accuracy and relevance of information; uses judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives, and to make recommendations.

Planning and Organizing Skills: Organizes work, sets priorities, and determines resource requirements; determines short- or long-term goals and strategies to achieve them; coordinates with other organizations or parts of the organization to accomplish goals; monitors progress and evaluates outcomes.

Oral Communication: Makes clear and convincing oral presentations to individuals or groups; listens effectively and clarifies information as needed; facilitates an open exchange of ideas and fosters atmosphere of open communication.

Written Communications: Expresses facts and ideas in writing in a clear, convincing and organized manner.

Building Collaborative Relationships - Uses consensus-building strategies and techniques to persuade key stakeholders to support a decision. Ensures that key stakeholders have an opportunity to express their opinions.

The information you provide may be verified by a review of your work experience and/or education, by checking references and through other means (ex. interview). Your evaluation may also include a review by an HR Specialist or panel and may include other assessment tools (ex. interview, structured interview, written test, work sample, etc.). The examining Office of Human Resources (OHR) makes the final determination concerning applicant ratings. Your resume MUST provide sufficient information to substantiate your vacancy question responses. If not, the OHR may amend your responses to more accurately reflect the level of competency indicated by the content of your resume.

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Position sensitivity and risk
Moderate Risk (MR)

Trust determination process
Credentialing , Suitability/Fitness

Required Documents

The following documents must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the vacancy closing date. Warning: If you submit a document using the same document title, the 2nd submission will OVERWRITE the 1st submission. Also, do not upload password protected documents.

The following documents are required from all applicants (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY):

ARE YOU A CURRENT OR FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEE? If applying as a status candidate with current or former Federal Service, please provide a copy of your last or most recent SF-50, "Notification of Personnel Action" which shows your appointment eligibility for the position for which you are applying. Your SF-50 must identify the highest grade you held on a permanent basis, Pay Plan/Pay Schedule, Series, and Grade/Pay Band, and career status. Multiple SF-50 may be submitted to demonstrate your highest previous rate and eligibility.

*WARNING: An award SF-50 (ex. cash or time off award) may not indicate grade, step and competitive status. For current DOL employees, an award SF-50 DOES NOT indicate grade and step.

- Resume are required to provide a resume by creating one in USAJOBS or uploading one of your choosing. Cover letters are optional. To receive full consideration for relevant and specialized experience, please list month, year, and the number of work hours worked for experience listed on your resume. We suggest that you preview the online questions, as you may need to customize your resume to ensure that it supports your responses to the vacancy questionnaire.

- Most recent performance appraisal/evaluation signed and dated within 18 months is requested by the agency, but will not disqualify candidates if not submitted. If not submitted during the application process, one may/will be requested at the time of the interview if the opportunity is extended. Applies to current and former Federal employees.

- Land Management Eligibles: a copy of your most recent Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50 or equivalent) proving your eligibility for appointment under the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act. This service must have been performed in the competitive service, under a time limited appointment in a Land Management Agency, as defined by P.L. 114-328. For more information, click here .

The following documents are required if applicable:

- Displaced Employee Placement Documents - Only required if requesting priority consideration under ICTAP / CTAP Eligibility.

- DD-214 - verifying military service, eligibility for consideration under the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) and showing character of discharge (ex. Member Copy 4 and 2 are acceptable vs. Copy 1 which is not acceptable to adjudicate veteran's preference)

Special/Non-Competitive Appointing Authority Documents

- Applicants who are eligible for consideration, and wish to be considered, under one of the following non-competitive hiring authorities must submit appropriate documentation (click on the links below to see the documentation requirements): [HR to edit as necessary] (a) Persons with Severe Disabilities (SCHEDULE A) (b) 30% or More Compensable Disabled Veterans (DAV) (c) Former Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) OR Current or Former Peace Corps Employees (PCE) (d) Military Spouses (MISP) (e) Other

- Cover Letters are not mandatory and will not be used to verify experience, but may be submitted Applicants selected for employment who are not current DOL employees will be required to provide proof of citizenship , and the E-Verify system will be used to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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