What is the Resource Assistants Program?2020-01-17T23:12:19+00:00

Established in 2016, the USDA Forest Service Resource Assistants Program (RAP) is a rigorous, immersive, paid experience for individuals interested in natural and cultural resources careers. Resource Assistants (RAs) work under the mentorship of Forest Service staff to enhance their capacity to complete mission-critical work and to develop leadership, critical thinking and strategic communication skills. This program prioritizes engagement of emerging professionals who are current students or recent graduates from underrepresented populations.

What is the Forest Service Direct Hire Authority for Resource Assistants?2020-01-17T23:11:01+00:00

As codified in Chapter 37, Section 1725b of Title 16, United States Code grants the Forest Service to appoint a qualified former resource assistant directly (without competition) to any category of General Schedule (GS) positions without regard to veterans’ preference, the rule of three, rating and ranking procedures, and without the requirement for public notice.  This authority is restricted to former resource assistants who successfully completed the program on a Forest Service unit. Individuals hired using this authority must be U.S. Citizens and are appointed to General Schedule positions on a permanent, term or temporary basis in the competitive service.

What are the requirements for a former Resource Assistant to be eligible for the Direct Hire Authority?2020-01-17T23:11:12+00:00

The Resource Assistant shall meet the following criteria:

a. Successfully completed a minimum of 960 hours of full- or part-time work, not to exceed 3,500 hours over a 2-year period and fulfilled the requirements of the program;

b. Earned an Associate’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education; and

c. Meets the Office of Personnel Management qualification standards.

What is the period of eligibility after completion of the Resource Assistants Program?2020-01-17T23:11:20+00:00

Eligibility for appointment under this authority is for 2 years after completion of the program requirements from the date of the official certificate signature. The certificate can be used to claim eligibility multiple times, during the two-year period it is valid, for any General Schedule position for which they are eligible with the Forest Service. This includes individuals who have already acquired a Forest Service job using their certificate.

What is the RAP Connect Portal?2020-01-17T23:11:37+00:00

This secure platform provides basic, non-personally identifiable information about eligible resource assistants, who have received their direct hire certificates and are looking for jobs in the in the Forest Service. This allows them to connect with hiring managers about potential job opportunities. This is not a hiring platform and does not coincide with nor replace any official hiring processes or hiring databases, nor does it guarantee future employment.

What type of information do Human Resources Specialists need from Hiring Managers when reaching out to inquire about this process?2020-01-17T23:11:48+00:00

A copy of the: Resource Assistant Program certificate, Official Transcripts, Resume, Position Description & Organizational Chart

What will a completed profile look like?2020-01-28T23:20:20+00:00
How often is the portal updated?2019-12-12T02:09:56+00:00

Monthly.  Resource Assistants are added to the portal as they become eligible. You can search the Resource Assistant database by ‘date posted’.

Where is [insert name]’s profile?2019-12-12T02:09:33+00:00

They may not be eligible yet. Direct Hire Eligibility requires that they finish their Resource Assistant program hours and complete the educational requirements.  In addition, a Resource Assistant’s profile is removed once they are hired by the Forest Service or are no longer seeking employment with the Forest Service. Resource Assistants may return to the portal if seeking employment anytime during their 2 year eligibility.

What grade do Resource Assistants qualify for?2019-12-12T02:08:51+00:00

As part of the Resource Assistant Program they must complete at least a 2-year or higher degree program. The program also requires that they complete work assignments at a minimum GS-4 level or higher.  Grade is generally based on education and experience. OPM’s qualifications for using education to qualify for professional and scientific positions are:

  • Undergraduate Degree:   GS-05 or GS-07 if superior academic achievement
  • Master’s Degree:  GS-09
  • Doctoral Degree:  GS-11
What series do Resource Assistants qualify for?2019-12-12T02:08:09+00:00

It varies. Please consult with Human Resources to determine classification, especially for those series with positive educational requirements.

For additional information contact: SM.FS.WOVolServ@usda.gov

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