Post 9/11: The inspiration for the ten steps to a federal job

Kathryn Troutman reflects on the day of Sept. 11, 2011 and what brought her to write the book, “Ten Steps to a Federal Job.” After the terrorist attacks she received a flood of interest from Americans wanting to become federal employees.

My 9/11 Story

On September 11, 2011, I was in Portland, Oregon in a hotel, with my 81-year-old mother. I was on my way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to teach a Federal Resume Writing class the next day. I was going to drop my mother off at her sister’s house in Baker City, Oregon and pick her up on the way back.  Early that morning, I was working on my laptop and Mom went downstairs to get coffee for us both. She went to the breakfast area and happened to look at the TV.  She saw an airplane fly into the World Trade Center. She exclaimed out loud, “Why do they put such awful shows on TV in the morning?” Everyone heard her.  A kind man stood up and went over to her and said, “This isn’t a movie, this is real.  This just happened in New York City. We are under attack here in the United States.”  He helped her sit down because of her shock.  Then he came back up to the room with Mom.  I saw Mom walk in with coffee and bananas and a strange man. I was surprised and he said, “Your mom was watching TV when an airplane struck the World Trade Center. There is an attack on America.”  I almost burst into tears, because I knew he was telling the truth, and that the truth was simply awful.  We  solemnly packed up to drive to Baker City about 5 hours south of Portland. We listened to the news all the way down about people looking for their loved ones. It was horrifying and shocking and sad.

Of course, my flight to Oahu and my federal resume course at Pearl Harbor were cancelled, so I stayed a couple of days and then went back to Portland to try to get a flight out of Oregon to go back to Maryland. My children were teenagers at that time, and I wanted to get home to them.

Post 9/11: Americans Wanted to Help

When I went back to work at The Resume Place, Inc. we were flooded with phone calls and emails asking how people could get a federal job with FEMA, CIA, NSA, DHS, CDC, any defense agency where they could contribute to the security of America. People were saying on the phone, “I want to get a government job where I can make a difference. I want to help make America safe. What can I do to work for FEMA or CIA?”  People who were working in auto dealerships, warehouses, banks, Walmart, schools, libraries, in all types of work, wanted to get a federal job to help protect America.  Since the federal job search is complex, it was difficult to explain to everyone by phone or by email “how to get a federal job”.

I was invited to teach a class at Montgomery County Works about federal resume writing in January 2002, and for that class I created a curriculum called Ten Steps to a Federal Job® with an American flag on the cover.  There were 35 One-Stop job coaches in the room.  I asked them what percentage of their clients were interested in federal jobs.  They said, “5%”.  I was surprised because Montgomery One Stop is one exit away from the DC line and the Nation’s Capital.  They told me later that they didn’t coach their clients about federal jobs because they didn’t know how to navigate a federal job search themselves. So, that day, I came up with the idea to create a train-the-trainer program for federal resumes and federal job search.

Out of the Ashes of 9/11

Ten Steps to a Federal Job® became a book, course curriculum, workshop, and train-the-trainer program to help U.S. citizens and a few non-U.S. citizens find and land a quality federal job. The main mission of the federal government in 2002 was—and still is to this day—protecting America, supporting our military and defense organizations, and making America safe and a great country.  I am proud to be able to help Americans serve America in the U.S. Government with my books, ideas and curriculum for trainers.  The book and curriculum have trained thousands of military transition personnel, One-Stop staff, federal human resources staff and Americans in a method to land a federal job. I am dedicated to helping the U.S. Government recruit and retain the best and the brightest for all of the missions of the government, but mostly for our safety against acts of terrorism.  Thank you again for your service to America: U.S. Military, Civil Service Employees, and Government Contractors!

— Kathryn Troutman

NEXT STORY: USAJOBS hits 20-year mark

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