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DSS or any Special Agent Job Question


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  • DSS or any Special Agent Job Question

    I apologize if this has been posted anywhere. I am new to the site but I could not find anything answering my question. I have even been emailing DSS recruitment, and it always seems one email will not answer anything but then they will send a second email that is helpful but does not seem to answer my question.

    I am currently in the Military and have about 3 1/2 years left on my contract. I have been told by several Federal Agencies that I need to wait until I am a year out from the end of my contract before applying but I have searched around different forums for a while and noticed that some people take up to 18 months to even find out if they are going to get hired. My concern with that is I have kids to support and I would hate to be out of the Military for 6 months to find out that I did not get the position. I have also seen posts where it has not taken that long so if anyone has any clarification on that I would appreciate it, especially if it pertains to DSS.

    My other issue is that I will be 34 and have 10 years in the Military. If I don't get hired I will have to re-enlist, which would put me at close to 20 years, so I might as well finish up and retire. If I was to retire in the Military it would put me at 44, which is not very desirable in my eyes for a Special Agent position. I have nothing backing that so if someone could help clarify I would appreciate it.

    I basically feel like I have one chance, possibly two if I was to extend my contract for a year, to get hired. I want to work for DSS but since I feel like my possibilities of pursuing a Special Agent position are limited to two attempts I plan on applying to more than DSS.

    Any help you guys can give me I would appreciate. Thank you.

  • #2
    You probably shouldn't apply to DSS or any other SA position until you are no more than a year out. Yes, it may take several years to get hired but it may not and if you apply then turn down the position because you are still in the military that will reflect poorly on your planning abilities. DS does hire agents who have retired from the military and are in their early 40s. We have about 2100 agents and every time the positions is posted there are 10-15,000 applicants. There is a very good change you many never be hired by DS. Being a Special Agent in DS is far different than being a Special Agent in another agency. Find out if working for DS is what you think it is. I think it is a great job but it is not really an agency for criminal investigations.


    • #3
      I apologize if my post came off the wrong way because I definitely did not mean that I wanted to apply more than a year out. I understand that it would be an inconvenience for any Agency to try and work around another's schedule just to hire you. I brought it up because I am curious as to what people average for hire time. If I don't have that info then I can't plan accordingly. I feel doing this 2 1/2 years in advance is a good start so I have some idea of what I am getting myself into for the hiring process, and I will just need to keep my eye on everything over the course of the next couple years instead of trying to figure everything out last minute. As for the Special Agent positions, I understand that they all differ. Yes DSS is what I want. I have a few others that interest me, but DSS is the one I am hoping to get. The only reason I have considered the others is because I am in the Military and I have to try and plan my last year in the Military around an open vacancy announcement from DSS, along with hoping I get hired the first time. I explained the re-enlistment concern I had which leaves me one maybe two times to apply in any near future. If everything falls apart and I don't get hired, I would still apply at 43 when I am a year out from retirement, I just don't feel I will be as competitive as an applicant. If that is not true then awesome. Again sorry if my post came across the wrong way.


      • #4
        Is there a reason that you cannot get out of the military and find other employment while pursuing a SA position? Without any knowledge of your current MOS and degree I cannot offer specific recommendations, but there are opportunities within the Fed that you could use to build yourself as a candidate, start building your Fed retirement, and get the inside track for vacancy announcements (I don't think that DS has internal only announcements, but many other agencies do).

        I know that with a family to support the military is a great option but, if you are flexible, you should be able to find something else that is fulfilling, helps get you to the SA goal, and can support your family.


        • #5

          I have considered that, which is also why I considered other SA positions that interest me. I could get out and find something until I was able to make DSS a career, but I have also moved through the Military ranks extremely quickly and have set myself up for a very good future. I would be willing to give it up for a job I want, but deciding to give it up for a possible stepping stone job that could wind up turning full time because I never got hired for DS is a hard decision. I haven't ruled it out, and I plan to exhaust as many options as I can. I appreciate the advice.


          • #6
            Originally posted by MikeM173 View Post
            I would be willing to give it up for a job I want, but deciding to give it up for a possible stepping stone job that could wind up turning full time because I never got hired for DS is a hard decision.
            Having been in your situation (former military who went OCONUS contracting) I know where you are coming from. I had to make the decision to leave an extremely well paying job for the chance to pursue an 1811 career in the Feds. I decided to leave and move forward with my apps because I was unable to process or attend phases while on a set rotation schedule. It's been a long wait but I'm at the tail end for a few and don't regret taking the risk. I have one 1811 app that I started about 3.5 yrs ago and am just now awaiting a class date (I never failed any part of the process, it just took forever).

            Unfortunately the odds of you getting out and showing up for an academy class are pretty much impossible (especially when trying to get into a highly competitive field). There are so many factors that come into play with a Fed process that can get your packet shelved, even outside of an applicant failing a phase or test (especially if you have any Service-Connected Disabilities once you get out. Depending on what it is, the additional paperwork may add time).

            I second what SAONE said about finding something that is fulfilling once you get out/are in a fed hiring process. ... Trust me...this will keep you from going insane during the wait and allow you to still support your family. Applicant wait times for varying agencies could be six months or over three years. Even if you applied to a Vacancy a year out, there is no guarantee. Best advice, that seems to be repeated on most fed forums, is to have some sort of employment during the hiring process. Sure you can apply once you are a year out and hope that your command will let you take leave to attend testing phases, but you should be prepared to find some sort of employment once you are out.

            Depending on your military branch/rank/MOS, you could look into the Enlisted/Officer/CWO side of 1811 work (NCIS, CID, AFOSI, CGIS). While it would impact your ability to get out in 3.5yrs, it would serve as a good gig to do until retirement (I never looked up what the max age is though or if there even is one for mil retirees going down the 1811 route). This would eliminate the need to worry about being stuck in unemployment/non-career employment limbo and allow for you to become a more competitive applicant (with a nice rolodex of networked contacts...wait do people even still use rolodexes?).

            Good luck!

            Also, as many have said and will say, never limit yourself to one agency/position. This will help keep you sane and positive throughout the extremely efficient and streamlined federal hiring process.
            "Independent research, reading comprehension, & a firm grasp of reality saves lives."


            • #7
              M8541 Reaper,

              I appreciate the post. This is a bit more of what I was looking for. I felt that this would be the case, but I wanted to verify for proper planning. I am currently planning to exhaust all options (including Military options that I want to do that age restricts me from). Thank you guys.


              • #8
                Also, not to sound like a jerk (because I don't mean to), but with the number of applications we are getting right now, assuming you will get hired is bold. You need to make a choice: 1) career in the military, or 2) career outside of the military (that hopefully is being an SA).


                • #9
                  It will take at least 6 months to get added to the register, you can immediately go on a military deferment for up to 2 years, then your 18month eligibility clock starts and you'll be available for a final offer of employment. I'd try to time it so you ets sometime during your 2 year deferment. The moment you ets end your military deferment, find a job, and wait for a foe that may never come. Just my .02


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeM173 View Post
                    I want to work for DSS but since I feel like my possibilities of pursuing a Special Agent position are limited to two attempts I plan on applying to more than DSS.
                    Getting into an 1811 spot anywhere is extremely difficult these days. I personally know many people trying to get these spots (myself included; kind of), and competition is fierce. Expect to be competing with young guys with LE experience, investigative experience, Bachelor's and/or Masters degrees, many of whom are combat vets and perhaps already federal employees (giving them fed. status). And these experienced guys are applying for freaking GS-5-7-9 entry level jobs with less than desirable agencies (like TIGTA, DHUD, SSA, etc.). These guys are also going at it trying to get a slot for MANY years (think like 6 years or longer). You may get lucky and be a first time go, or you may not.

                    I don't know what you are doing in the military, but you are halfway to retirement. I rarely met a vet who doesn't regret not staying in till retirement. And getting out and simply walking back into the military may not be the easiest thing to do considering they are also cutting numbers.

                    Luckily you have some time to figure it out, and perhaps the 1811 hiring landscape will change in a few years.


                    • #11
                      I appreciate all the good advice you guys have given so far. I'm not worried about retirement when it comes to the job I want. That sounds bad but I'd rather be happy. I know I could do my current job until retirement but that doesn't mean that I want to. Any more info or elaborating on advice you guys want to give I'll appreciate. I'm trying to take everything in and make the best decision I can. I still have 3 1/2 years before my current contract is up so it's not a rush. Simply planning ahead.


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