The SF and OF Paperwork Explained..
The paperwork, ah the Paperwork OF-306, SF15, SF86..
Today we will examine the multitude of paperwork that comes with applying for a federal position. The only easy thing about the mandatory paperwork is that the forms, sounding foreign are at least easy to find. I will focus primarily on the essential documents that are commonly asked for and why each one is important. The good news is that you can find all of these on the web for no cost and without some hassle of giving out your email or credit card information. Links will be provided for each document.
The OF-306 is your standard information, personal data to include name, address, etc. This form also is to see if you meet the standards for the Government Life Insurance program. The OF-306 is pretty common so you should be familiar with it. Also, if you fill it out be sure to update it every six months if your job search is taking that long and keep it in your selected documents ready to upload.
What is important is the background information and the ever present Selective Service information which at this time is only pertinent if you’re a male. You’re stating on the form several basic questions to determine your eligibility to federal employment. This is positively a deal breaker if you’re not paying attention as I’m sure red flags will be thrown up very quickly if you answer “yes” to several of the questions. There is also the availability to write statements for each “yes” answer. There are also questions asking about family members currently employed by the agency you’re attempting to gain a position with as well as if you are delinquent on any Federal Debt.
I personally have little in the way to offer you should you answer “yes” to any of the questions, however, be prepared to have airtight answers for them. IF you are delinquent on Federal debt, make sure you have a working plan on how you are paying that debt off which could come up later on. IF you are applying for a position that has a security clearance and you have omitted information on your OF-306, be sure that OPM will find out what you omitted and will question you at length as to why you did. This could be something easy with a simple explanation; you forgot about that 500$ speeding ticket 8 years ago when you rented that lamborghini in Las Vegas or…. In the last 6 years that I’ve been working in the federal workspace, I have yet to meet the person who went to jail for falsifying their statement, but you also don’t want to be the one.
The SF-15 is an application for 10 point Veterans Preference. This is for Veterans and their spouses and in some cases for their parental care giver. Basic information is required as well as proof of Honorable military service typically in the form of a DD-214. This form can make the decision on whether or not you get an interview and move into the coveted “REFERRED” status, of course which means you’re that much closer to gaining your position.
The longest government paperwork you will ever have to fill out. You will have to dig hard for this and get frustrated, but it will be worth it. Although it isn’t required for the majority of positions, if you have to get a background check this is what you will fill out to obtain a clearance for positions where trust is of the utmost importance. The SF-86 focuses on a number of areas of your life. Previous addresses and verifiers of each, your speeding tickets or lack thereof, your legal records, whether or not you’ve lived/traveled overseas, if you have property in foreign countries, if you have known associations with political or intelligence positions outside of the United States, whether your family members are members of foreign governments, whether or not you’ve been approached by foreign intelligence etc.The list could continue, but you’ll receive the package for online fill and it will take you some time to fill it out. Here is a laundry list of areas to cover and save for future reference if you’ll be applying for a clearance as you will have to submit yourself to OPM for investigation. My advice is to leave no stone unturned and to have explanations for each stone if need be. There is always a section where you can address anything that may/could come up and need reevaluation when you meet with an OPM investigator. I have met many people who have participated in this experience including myself and it is a raw experience that will grate on your nerves.
SF-86 Laundry List:
- Create a document that contains your addresses for the past 5 years at a minimum although no further than 10 years out. Make sure to have someone at each address who can verify you lived there. I used landlords as many of mine were rental properties, personal friends will work as well, family should only be used as a last resort.
- Create a document of any debts you have. It should include payments being made and their schedule. If you are delinquent on anything, contact your debtors if you are behind on any payments and create a payment cycle to get current. Log the date/time when you called them as well as who you talked to, get the current payment as well as your current balance. This debts area is very important, you shouldn’t be blindsided when you fill out the SF-86 and have the OPM investigator come back and ask you to explain X, Y, or Z. Remember you can add explanations for each question should you need to do so.
I had the fun time of explaining why I had some debts that weren’t being taken care of properly, my statement was very brief and to the point. I had gotten divorced, my ex-wife was to handle certain financial arrangements that were under our marriage debt. The only problem being that they were in my name and she wasn’t paying them. I of course got them under control and paid off them as quickly as possible, sometimes asking for a payment in full today which was sometimes a negotiated amount.
Do yourself a favor and get one of the free credit reports so you can add a line at the end of the SF-86 that on this date, November 30, 2017; I am unaware of any debts that are in collections at this time according to Experian Credit Agency.
That’s all for now folks. If you missed my post on Why Documents Matter head to the hyper-link.