2018 PMF Open Forum

2018 PMF Open Forum

The 2017-18 Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) application season is almost here! You can use this site and thread as a go-to resource for helpful information during the application process.

The PMF Class of 2018 application opens Noon (ET), Monday, October 23, 2017 through Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found under the Become a PMF section on the official Presidential Management Fellows program website.

The announcement can be found at www.USAJOBS.gov, by searching for “Presidential Management Fellows” when the application opens. The basics can be found at pmf.gov.

In addition to OPM’s official PMF resources, here on Pathtopmf.com you’ll find a range of additional insights on the PMF Program, including:

And use this open thread as a resource for the 2017-18 process and a place to:

  • Ask questions
  • Share your experience
  • Or maybe just to vent :)

Good luck and let us know how we can help you submit a strong application!

P.S. This site, guide, and resources are brought to you by the Robertson Foundation for Government and GovLoop. Thanks to RFFG for their financial support to help offer these great resources and keep them free for all applicants.

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  • Emily Ray

    Hey! Planning to apply to PMF next week. Wondering what other PhD’s have done before or plan to do about the transcript requirement to list “date of expected graduation”. My transcript definitely doesn’t list that for my PhD, though I do have a masters, which is listed on there. Do you think that would be sufficient? Or should I get a letter to attach with it? And who would write that letter? My advisor is the only one who really knows when I’ll get out, but is he an appropriate “school official”?

    • Heather

      My career office advised me to get a “Letter of Official Enrollment” from the registar. It includes a date of expected graduation.

    • EJ

      I received the same guidance from my institution. All schools should be able to easily provide a letter which fills in any gaps of information which they don’t include in their transcripts.

  • EJ

    Hello everyone – Does anyone know the importance of the resume being formatted and styled the way that is typical to federal government employees? (lengthy, including supervisors etc.) I am curious about success in becoming a finalist when using a more “private sector” style resume.
    I believe the resume submitted in the application is not necessarily what any hiring agencies would receive. Has anyone confirmed that if you become a finalist you can use a different resume for the hiring fair?Good luck all!

    • Matt Siebert

      I hope you get some advice on this, EJ – I have the same questions. I saw 3 mentions in research that suggested that the USAJobs resume format was completely acceptable for the initial application. Subsequent to selection as a finalist, it seems the advice is to tailor each resume to the position at hand.
      I’ll be watching this space to see what anyone has to offer! Good luck!

    • David E McCarthy

      Hello, I believe it may be best to have it styled the way that is typical to federal government employees:
      1. For ease of continuity for the readers
      2. In the 2018 PMF guide it says to “Provide the name and contact information of your supervisor for each assignment.”

      • should have read the pmf guide

        Well dang. I missed the part about listing a supervisor, so I’m out this cycle. Best of luck to everyone else!

      • Nick

        Where does it say to provide the name/contact of supervisors? Can’t find that anywhere…

    • Kyle

      Hi EJ,

      I’m a 2017 PMF Fellow. An informal FB poll of 2017 Finalists showed the large majority used the 1-2 page private sector style resume. That said, both types were used by applicants who became finalists.

      If you are selected as a finalist, I believe agency representatives can access your application. They might look for keywords or skills they are prioritizing, and reach out to you about a position. However, every opportunity I remember being posted on the TMS (the job board you get access to when you become a finalist) requested you send a resume with the application. So a different resume can certainly be sent at that time.

      • Madiha Tariq

        Hi Kyle,

        Do you recall having the same essay prompt as in the PMF Application guide or a different prompt? Thank you

      • Nicole Robinson

        I just found out about this amazing opportunity and doubt I’ll be able to get a revised resume then formatted to a federal style. This makes it appear I’d be safe if I submit a revised resume in the private sector style. I’m just nervous because I’m an MSW student and they don’t seem to pick too many of us.

      • Law

        Congrats on being a fellow? When did you graduate with your advanced degree? I graduated in May 2015 and wondering if I am still eligible?

      • Kyle

        Law, I completed all requirements for my advanced degree (defense, dissertation approval, etc) in August of 2017. I applied to the PMF program while still in graduate school, and used my finalist selection as leverage to graduate this past year. From my understanding of the PMF eligibility requirements, I would guess you are outside the window. But you should write the PMF office for an official opinion.

        Nicole, last year I think there were the same number of finalists in social work (3) as in my field (physics). The PMF program is a very broad program, accepting applicants from just about every type of advanced degree (I think the average last year was 10 finalists for every discipline, or something like that). The jobs made available to finalists are equally broad. There are 100s of positions made available, but the vast majority may not be relevant to your skill set or career goals.

        I applied to the PMF not because I thought there were good odds I’d get a career out of it (only 3-6% of applicants end up become fellows), but because every step of the process was useful. Applying forced me to update my resume and have a conversation with my advisor about graduating. Becoming a finalist meant I got access to another job board for possible career opportunities–but I didn’t stop looking at other paths. Perhaps that’s a good way for you to look at the whole thing as well?

        Madiha, sorry for being so late responding. I don’t recall what the essay prompt was. I can tell you I certainly didn’t practice writing an essay before doing the application.

  • David E McCarthy

    Does anyone have clarity on if we should we only share our graduate transcript(s)?

    • Kyle

      Hi David,
      I’m trying to remember my application from last year. I believe I only sent graduate transcripts (plus a letter from the department head verifying I would graduate in the summer). However, you will probably need the undergraduate transcripts if you become a finalist. Many offered positions will have a positive education requirement, meaning you’ll need to show a degree in a certain field and/or some number of class hours in a particular subject. From my experience, the undergraduate transcript was very useful for this, but not needed till the finalist-to-fellow transition. Hope that helps!

      • David E McCarthy

        Thank you very much Kyle

  • David E McCarthy

    Has anyone submitted or taken the online assessment yet?
    1. How was the online assessment?
    2. Do we need to take that before we see the essay prompt?

    • Kevin

      Hello David,
      I just completed all four sections of the assessment. It was not difficult – the sample problems provide adequate context for the actual assessment. The essay section is part four; you need to complete the three question batteries first.

      • David E McCarthy

        Thank you Kevin, I plan on tackling it over the weekend. Can you talk about the essay a bit.
        -Character limit?
        -Can you type in word, then copy and paste it in? If not, is there spell check built into the assessment program?

      • Madiha Tariq

        Hi Kevin,

        Is the essay prompts somewhat similar to the current application guide or is it different? Thank you

  • Madiha Tariq

    Hello is everyone tailoring their resume to a specific agency or a just general resume?

  • Jesse Pinkton

    Does anyone know if applications using Safari browser will be rejected? I was able to complete the application with Safari but further reading shows there may be compatibility issues on the OPM side.

  • Edgar Soto

    Quick note, the written assessment for this year cannot be copied and pasted from a word processor. So though previous guides recommend doing so, it will not work.. Just wanted to let others know, who just found out about this opportunity and were using previous guides. Don’t make my mistake.

    • Lynn Anderson

      Thank you for your quick note Edgar! This is the answer I needed

  • Catherine

    Is anyone else having technical problems problems with the online assessment? I am stuck on the last question of Part B of the assessment. I can neither go to the previous question nor click through to the final review. My internet connection is working properly, so I am kind of stumped.

  • Lucy O’Donoghue

    Hey there, I have a masters degree from outside the U.S. – I’m trying to figure out of it’s accredited (I highly doubt it’s not…University of London here) but more to the point, the education section of the online resume doesn’t seem to allow me to list a UK-based university. I can pick ‘United Kingdom’ from the country drop down menu but then it’s still asking for a US postal code and city, and then gets confused when that doesn’t match the UK country option. Aargh! As a non-American, this kind of narrow-minded design flaw drives me nuts (and this is not the first time I’ve encountered this in the US). Anyone else overcome this? Is my only option to submit an attached document instead?

    • Kim

      University of London is accredited in the US and you should be able to find it. My degree is from LSE and I think I had to choose ‘England’ from the drop down menu. I didn’t encounter any of the issues you mentioned.

      • Lucy O’Donoghue

        Thanks for that Kim – I’ll try the England route and see if that makes a difference.

  • Law

    I am a little confused. I graduated with my masters in May 2015. Is that outside of the window for eligibility? The eligibility says within 2 years of application date but most people don’t graduate in October of any year so just wondering?

  • Lobsang Thinley Salaka

    how many essay questions are there? and what type of questions. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  • George

    Did very few people apply this year?

    • Ian

      I was wondering the same thing.

      • George

        I of course don’t know how many did, but the program might not have as many applicants as in previous years.

        • Brooke E Holleman

          I wonder if they’ll release the number of applicants (as well as the Finalists) next week.

          • Lola Ronmoe

            I think they will as far as releasing the Finalists next week, it would be impossible because the application officially ended on Monday 13 Nov.

          • Brooke E Holleman

            I think you meant Nov. 6th, but I just read that the release of Finalists would be 2-3 weeks afterwards. https://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/2018-application.aspx

          • Lola Ronmoe

            I agree but the 13th was the last day for impacted applicants to submit eligibility documents. The website actually says 3 weeks after closing…

          • Kyle

            Hi all,
            (2017 PMF Fellow) I asked Arianne Gallagher (the PMF director) about timelines last week. She said those affected by hurricanes had been given additional time to complete the application (to the 13th) and to get documentation submitted (some later date I don’t remember). The upshot is that review of applications could take longer than the website suggests. I believe she said they hoped to announce 2018 finalists by/in the 2nd week of December. Of course, that is just an estimate and could change.

          • Brooke E Holleman

            Thanks for the clarification, Kyle! Good to have expectations tempered a bit.

    • Lola Ronmoe

      With the new administration & things not as stable as many wished & rumors that some agencies (including the Department of State) would not hire PMFs: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/28/state-department-withdraws-from-top-recruitment-program-sowing-confusion/, came the fear of investing time and not ripping the benefits…I think a lot of people just gave up.

      Many people come through the PMF program hoping to work for the Department of State. From previous years, I read that the line to speak to representatives of DoS were the longest. I secretly wish to work for the DoS one day.

      • TN

        Hmm, I’m really curious about the applicant numbers too, previous years they’ve had 6000-8000 applicants…But now I also wonder if there will be fewer PMF openings for those that do get a Finalist spot. Maybe other dept/agencies are nervous…

      • Chief Snider

        It didn’t seem like much “invested time”, unless there is more to come in the selection process. This is my first dealings with the PMF program. Just submit resume and transcript, and do a few easy assessments. It takes more time to apply to a federal job (resume, DD-214, SF-50, Transcripts, Certifications, Questionnaire, etc.). Although, I guess if you are a young college kid who doesn’t already have a resume built, it might take a bit more time. Lola…. I secretly wish to work for FEMA.

  • Jason Perry

    Has anyone received notification on if they were selected as a Finalist? I believe they said that applicants would be notified this week.

    • Alex

      I don’t think we will find out for another 2 weeks or so. Nov 13 was deadline for those affected by hurricanes to turn in paperwork. I would guess they could not start reviewing applications until then, and that was only 4 days ago. Someone below in this thread said he talked to someone in PMF and they were hoping by/in the second week of December.

  • George

    I know we won’t find out Finalist status for a little while longer, but is there somewhere where we can see the number of applicants and/or other applicant information?

    • TN

      Last year you could see the number of applications submitted when you logged into the application dashboard but this year they didn’t show it.

  • Johnathan H

    Good luck to everyone! Hope we hear something today or early next week! Anybody have any updates from the department?

    • Kathleen Navarro

      On the website – “We anticipate announcing Finalists for the Class of 2018 by mid-December 2017.”

      • George

        Anyone have any department updates after speaking to someone in person?

        • Jason Blade

          I would expect another 8-10 days before receiving results. The PMF website said to expect results mid-December.

          • Johnathan H

            Thanks all for the updates! We are all driving ourselves crazy wondering if we made the list! Hopefully we know sooner than later. Good luck to everyone!!!

          • George

            The real challenge begins after becoming a finalist. Trust me, I have spoken with a TON of prior finalists. Getting an appointment is not easy.

          • TN

            I keep wanting to read about that but am making myself hold back so I don’t get my hopes up! But yeah, it sounds really tricky; many dept/agencies don’t even advertise using the TMS database?

          • George

            Well, the people I know had a separate PMF portal that they used to apply to postings; and that was not updated as much as one would hope, from what I hear. This was also a year where openings were marked as STEM or not, which also added complication because some Finalists in STEM actually wanted to leave their science areas and work in policy at State or the Department of Education or wherever. That became tougher to do when they were labelled as STEM only. Now, I think OPM might be pushing everything over to the USAJobs portal and restricting those postings for PMF Finalists. However, as there are no “STEM Finalists” this year, getting a position might be easier. In any case, yes, sometimes agencies don’t post because they are unaware of how/where to post correctly, because they just don’t want any Fellows, or because they use their own methods (i.e., the PMF job fair, direct contact to Finalists, direct contact from Finalists to a given agency’s PMF coordinator).

          • Chief Snider

            HOPEFULLY THIS WEEK! I’m hoping that getting an appointment isn’t too difficult for me, since I am low risk (pending I even get selected as a finalist, of course). I have been with the Federal Government for 10 years (currently a GS-11 supervisor with security clearance). This is an opportunity for me to get some invaluable professional development, learn aspects of the Federal Government that can’t be learned from a fire house, and make my transition from Fire to DHS/FEMA.

      • MR

        Does this count as mid-December yet? I just want the wait to be over!

    • Chief Snider

      The anticipation is killing me. Every time my email dings, I think “this is the email!”

      • Amber Levell Mueller

        I’m driving myself crazy fantasizing about it as well! Hopefully only 1 more week or so!

  • Paige

    To those of you who are continuously checking your account and breaking the refresh button like me, they said finalists will be announced next week in response to my message. I guess tampering expectations is better than nothing!

    • Chief Snider

      Thank you. I have been doing exactly that too. One page on “News and Updates”, one page logged into my account, and one page here….. refreshed maybe 10 times a day. I know we are supposed to get an email, but just in case they update the website before sending out emails. I know all of us are super anxious to find out. OK, so next week…..

  • Kyle

    Hi 2018 PMF Applicants,

    2017 PMF Fellow here again, providing a data source to distract those of you who are checking the status of the application every 10 minutes! When I became a Finalist last year, I started to record jobs being offered to our class and who/when Finalists were becoming Fellows. I have a lot of that data available for others to look through, as well as some figures/analysis, on GitHub. If you’re curious about which agencies offered what kinds of jobs, or how long you might expect to wait before becoming a Fellow, feel free to check out the data: https://github.com/keklarup/PMF

    Just remember this is only for 2017, and each PMF year’s experience could be quite different. Additionally, if anyone reading this becomes a Finalist and is data inclined, please consider making similar recordings for your year!

    • Emily Ray

      Interesting. From the data, things don’t look great for an engineer to get an appointment, even if they are selected as a finalist…

      • George

        Emily, even when they had “STEM FInalists” in 2014 and 2015 or whenever, those people also didn’t have great chances for an appointment.

      • Kyle

        Yes? Although there are things the data doesn’t capture. While the data can say how many Finalists got appointed, it doesn’t show how many Finalists that wanted an appointment failed to get one. Many people, especially with in-demand degrees, may have found private sector employment more appealing than what was available on the TMS.

        That being said, some really cool jobs appear on the TMS. There’s just some luck that goes into if the cool jobs overlap with your skillset that year. From my experience watching the 2017 Finalist class progress through it’s eligibility year, I’d say those who used the TMS as a possible path to a career, rather than the only path, were less stressed and had greater luck finding an exciting job…

    • Chief Snider


    • TN

      This is great, thanks!

  • NK
  • NK
    • Megan

      Legal…so you’re telling me there’s a chance? Lol

      • NK

        Lol! sorry about that..I thought that link might cheer up some Engineering or PH related folks. 🙂

  • LF

    Heads up – the PMF application page has been updated to indicate that finalists will be notified next week, and there’s a webinar for finalists at 2pm on Wednesday the 20th, so we’ll have to find out by then. Good luck to everyone!

    • CW

      I can’t find the page you’re referencing – do you mind posting the link?

    • Chief Snider

      2018 application page finally shows the updated information for me. It says finalists will be notified “the week of Dec 18” and the webinar is on the 20th from 2-4pm EST. I’m assuming this means we’ll find out Monday. I can’t imagine they’d do it Tuesday, with a 24 hour heads up on the webinar. Anyone else going to hit “refresh” and check their email a million times on Monday??