Job Applicant Frequently Asked Questions


How do I find information about open positions?

Job listings are posted in the Jobs section of the website. Each title leads to a job description, list of qualifications, compensation information, and application requirements for that position. Subscribers to CBO’s job alert system receive notices about employment opportunities. Information on the various Divisions’ pages also gives insight about the work a position might entail; see Organization and Staffing.

How do I apply for a job at CBO?

Click “Apply for this Position” at the end of the job announcement. If you are a first-time applicant, you will need to set up an account before filling in your profile information. If you are returning applicant, enter your email address and password and click “Add to My Jobs.” CBO encourages applicants to review and update their information each time they apply for a position.

The announcement states “To ensure consideration, applications must be submitted by XX date.” Will CBO accept and consider my application after that date?

CBO considers all applications that are received by the closing date. Although a position can remain posted until it is filled or until CBO determines that it has received a sufficient number of applications from qualified candidates, there is no guarantee of consideration after that date.

Does CBO follow the General Schedule for federal jobs?

CBO does not follow the General Schedule classification and pay system, but the agency’s salaries are competitive and commensurate with experience, education, and other qualifications. CBO offers excellent benefits and a collegial, respectful work environment.

Does CBO accept applications from noncitizens for employment or internships?

CBO can employ people who are not U.S. citizens if they meet the criteria outlined in 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(3)(B). Before applying, noncitizens of the United States should review the agency’s Citizenship Requirements or contact for assistance in determining eligibility.

Where is CBO?

CBO is in the Ford House Office Building, Fourth Floor, Second and D Streets SW, Washington, DC 20515. Directions are posted on CBO’s Contact Information page.

Does CBO have positions outside Washington, D.C.?

No, all of CBO’s positions are in Washington, D.C.

Several jobs interest me, but I will not be available until I graduate. Should I submit my application now, before the closing date?

Yes; in some cases, CBO extends offers to applicants before graduation and sets a later starting date.

Can I submit my résumé for future consideration without applying for a specific position now?

No, CBO does not keep résumés on file for future vacancies. Once you have applied, however, you can access your résumé and application materials by logging in to your account.

Will I be considered for more than one position if my qualifications seem to fit more than one opening?

In some cases, if a profile or résumé suggests that a candidate might meet the requirements of another position, CBO may send an email suggesting the applicant consider a different opening. You must apply directly for that position to have your application considered, however. Once you have entered CBO’s job application system, you can return to update your profile and upload your résumé and other documents to apply for additional openings. You can use the same résumé to apply for more than one job, but you will need to submit it separately with each application. You can upload different documents to apply for different jobs.

Do job announcements remain posted after a closing date?

Yes, in some cases CBO will wait until after that to remove a job announcement. There is no guarantee of consideration after the closing date, however; it is always best to apply before the deadline has passed.

If I am interviewed and not selected for a job, will I remain under consideration for other jobs?

If you wish to be considered for more than one position, you must apply for each opening separately. You can subscribe to CBO’s job alert system to receive notices about employment opportunities.

I am interested in a summer internship. Does CBO have a paid program?

Yes, CBO offers an annual Summer Internship Program, generally for a 10-week period between May and August of each year. Pay is based on academic attainment and job-related experience. Interested students can subscribe to CBO’s job alert system to learn about the upcoming summer’s opportunities.

Will my internship application also place me in consideration for a full-time position?

No, you must submit a separate application to be considered for full-time employment. To learn about employment and internship opportunities, you can subscribe to CBO’s job alert system.

Application Process

How do I apply?

Go to the Jobs section of the website. Each title leads to a job description, list of qualifications, compensation information, and application requirements for that position. If you are a returning applicant, enter your email address and password and click “Add to My Jobs.” CBO encourages applicants to review and update their information each time they apply for a position.

What if I am not ready or cannot fully complete the online application in one sitting?

It is important to start and complete your application in one session. If you do not finish before submitting the application, all of your information will be deleted once you close your browser; you cannot save and return to an open application. You should have all necessary materials at hand, such as your résumé, cover letter, and unofficial transcripts, and allow yourself sufficient time to complete the process. Once you have submitted an application, however, you will be able to access and update your profile.

Is it safe to enter my information?

Yes, all of CBO’s web pages are secure. The agency strives to protect visitors’ information whether they are browsing the website, downloading documents, or applying for employment.

Must I include my Social Security number (SSN)?

No, CBO will not need your Social Security number for the initial application.

What browsers are supported?

CBO’s website supports all major browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, AOL, and Opera.

What kinds of file attachments are accepted?

CBO prefers to have documents submitted as PDFs (.pdf), but it accepts documents in Microsoft Word (.docx, .doc) and other formats (.txt, .rtf, .xls).

Can I supply information from another electronic document?

Yes, you can copy and paste information from any document that is accessible to you in an accepted format.

Can I change the answers to a screening questionnaire after I’ve finished it?

No, screening questionnaires cannot be edited once they are completed. The questionnaires are not timed, so please consider your answers and check them carefully before completing the process.

How do I change or update my online profile?

If you need to change your profile, you can log in as a returning applicant to upload a revised résumé or other document, list new skills, change your current employment information, or update your contact data, for example. You will need to resubmit that application after you make any profile changes.

What if I forgot my password?

Click “If you do not remember your password click here,” enter your email address in the box, and click “Submit.” You will be sent a link that will allow you to reset your password. Be sure that your spam filter allows email from CBO and from

What if I cannot remember my user name?

Your user name is your email address. If you cannot remember the address you used, please call CBO at 202-226-2628 and our system administrator will attempt to retrieve your email address. If we cannot locate that information, you will need to create a new profile.

Can I deliver my application to CBO or send it by regular mail, email, or fax?

No; all applications must be made online at CBO’s secure website. If you require an accommodation or are experiencing difficulty with completing your application, please write to or call 202-226-2628. There is no need to follow up by email or fax after you complete your application.

Preparing Documents For My Application

How do I know which documents I need for my application?

Required documents are listed in position announcements. Please be sure to assemble them before you apply; incomplete applications are not considered.

What should be in my cover letter?

A cover letter is a critical part of your CBO application and can highlight how your experience would allow you to contribute to CBO in a way that a résumé can’t. To be most effective, your cover letter should be targeted to the position for which you are applying. Explain what it is about the job or CBO that intrigues you or why you are interested in working on issues that are described in the job announcement. Once you’ve outlined the skills that match those of the position, describe broader skills that make you an ideal candidate.

Your cover letter should showcase your written communication skills and should provide details about the most important aspects of your résumé.

A few additional tips:

  • Keep your cover letter short (one page or less) and clearly written.
  • Demonstrate excellent attention to detail. CBO staff are professionally obligated to bring a high level of attention to detail to their jobs, and you’ll want to reflect that in your cover letter.

Address your cover letter to one of the contact people listed on the job announcement (unless you know the name of the hiring manager).

What makes for a good résumé?

CBO prefers that you submit a traditional résumé rather than the federal résumé that is often used when applying for government jobs. (Federal résumés are typically many pages long and often include repetitive information about your experience.)

Your résumé—a written compilation of your education, work experience, credentials, and accomplishments—is your opportunity to make a positive impression. That “self-advertisement” sums up your experience on one to two pages. The goal is to make the employer want to know more about your fit for the position.

Hiring managers may not read your entire résumé at first. The point of your résumé is to engage the manager to want to read more. Provide a summary that will give them a snapshot of your work experience, achievements, and skills. To be effective, make it concise and bulleted. Each description of your experience should be brief (no more than 4 to 5 lines of text) and tailored to the position for which you are applying.

How do you begin?

  • List your professional work experience in reverse chronological order (from newest to oldest). For each position you list, include the name of the employer, dates of employment, and bullet points describing your role and responsibilities. You should also include your degree, any awards you received, volunteer or community experience, postgraduate coursework, and relevant skills.
  • Focus on your accomplishments in each position rather than your responsibilities; list quantifiable achievements in a numerical manner when possible. You should match those accomplishments to the criteria listed in the job posting. If you have a lot of experience, strike a balance between including experience that is both timely and relevant and omitting unrelated experience.
  • Format your résumé, ensuring that there is plenty of white space on the page (for readability) and that it looks professional.
  • Have one or two trusted friends proofread your résumé to look for typographical mistakes and grammatical errors and to ensure that your bulleted descriptions are understandable.
  • Think of your résumé as a living document and tailor it to each job you apply for, ensuring that you have shown how your expertise directly relates to the skills or experience required in the announcement. Update your résumé as your experience develops, adding any skills you’ve learned, courses you’ve taken, or awards you’ve won.

What type of a writing sample should I submit?

In general, CBO staff members are expected to have superior writing skills. You should submit a sample that demonstrates your ability to explain technical information clearly to a nontechnical audience. CBO does not expect you to create a writing sample for your application; a paper that you prepared for an academic project would make an ideal submission. The submission should not exceed 10 pages; ideally, it should concern a research project that involved quantitative analysis and should highlight a connection with the area or discipline that you would pursue at CBO. If your sample is longer, consider adding a summary page to direct reviewers to specific sections that best display your research or analysis. Doctoral candidates and recent Ph.D. recipients typically upload their dissertation or dissertation abstract.

What constitutes a useful editing sample?

Your 3- to 20-page sample should clearly demonstrate your editorial ability. Marked-up copy, files with electronically tracked changes, and before-and-after documents are useful; a finished piece that does not show your editing is not. Your sample should be accompanied by a description of the task and circumstances, placing the piece along a spectrum from early review to finished product and from light to substantive editing. Provide other relevant information (perhaps about the project’s challenges or offering details about your interactions with an author or reviewer). You may submit several samples that illustrate different approaches or types of projects, but at least one should demonstrate substantive review or editing, and it should show your ability to transform an original submission into a polished document. All samples will be treated confidentially.

Submitting Required Documents

I received an email that said something was missing from my application. May I submit it by return email?

No, you must submit all materials through the website. If you receive notice that your application is missing a component (a writing sample or an unofficial transcript, for example), please log in to the website as a Returning Applicant, upload the missing portion, navigate to the bottom of the application, re-enter the date, place a check mark at “I understand and wish to submit my application,” and click “Submit.” Be sure to reply to the email (at to alert CBO’s Human Resources staff that your application is complete.

If I apply for more than one position should I submit additional cover letters?

Separate cover letters may not be necessary, particularly if you are applying for equivalent positions (as an analyst in more than one division, for example). However, if you have experience or skills that relate differently to several positions, it is probably worthwhile to write a separate cover letter for each. But please be sure to include the job announcement number that identifies the pertinent position.

Does CBO accept unofficial transcripts? Can my school send them by overnight delivery?

CBO accepts unofficial transcripts—but only through its online application system. If your school cannot provide an electronic version, scan a printed copy to create a PDF (or other electronic file) or transcribe the information into a document or spreadsheet to upload with your application.

I am a recent Ph.D. recipient (or doctoral candidate), what type of references should I provide?

You should ask three people who know your work well to send confidential letters to; there is no need to supply separate contact information in your application.

If a job announcement requests contact information for three references, does CBO also want letters of reference or recommendation?

Unless you are a recent Ph.D. recipient or doctoral candidate, CBO requests that you provide contact information for three people who can describe your qualifications for the position. Typically, that group would include a previous supervisor or professor.

May I apply for employment if I do not have a résumé?

No, your application will not be considered without a résumé.

Does CBO accept SF 171s or statements of knowledge, skills, and abilities?

No, CBO does not accept either form of application. We recommend that you submit a PDF of a standard résumé.

After I Apply

What happens to my job application after I submit it?

Your submitted application enters CBO’s tracking system where it will be reviewed by the Human Resources staff. If you meet qualifications for the position, it is then passed along to the relevant department or division. You will receive a confirming email within one week of your submission.

Will I know if CBO has received my résumé?

CBO will send an email confirming your application and noting whether any portions are missing. Be sure your spam filter allows email from CBO and

What should I do if I don’t receive an email?

If you have not received a confirming email within one week of your submission, check your spam filter. If the email has not arrived, contact requesting confirmation.

Will I receive additional information about the status of my application?

You will be contacted if you are selected for an interview or if additional information is needed. CBO also notifies candidates who are not qualified or not selected.

How can I check the status of my application?

Log in as a Returning Applicant. Go to “Check the status of your application” to see a full description. Please note that jobs are removed from the CBO website when applications are closed or the position has been filled.