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Understanding Postal Service Hiring

There are many books and sources that will misconstrue how easy it is to obtain a full-time, unionized postal service position. Let us be clear, it is not simple, and will not be easy. Why is it difficult?

  • Full-time Postal Positions offer full benefits, including health care and dental for you and your family.
  • The rates of pay across unionized positions are very good. The Postal Service must ensure that it only gives these well paid positions to hardworking, capable, committed individuals.
  • Most importantly, the vast majority of unionized employees cannot be laid off. Due to union bargaining, these are some of the safest jobs in all of the United States.
Given the immense attractiveness of these positions, and the inability to actually remove employees, the Postal Service is very reserved in giving out these positions to just anyone.

USAPostalExam.org Career Track Advice

The vast majority of positions available right now are generally for a Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) or a temporary position within a city. These are positions that newcomers to the Postal Service must strongly seek out. Why?
  • Though prior work experience outside the Postal Service is not heavily weighted in the recruiting process, a good performance with the Postal Service can play a significant factor (though your 473 exam score is still paramount).
  • It allows you to learn inside the Postal Service while being paid very well (though not as well as a unionized employee).
  • The vast majority of positions posted to the public are of this type. The Postal Service does not want to promise their prime positions to untested applicants. The Postal Service wants employees committed to it for a career. Often the best way to do that is to bring people in who are willing to work for the Postal Service without the incentives that attracts individuals who want it simply for the benefits.
  • It may give you the inside track on potential opportunities available only to existing Postal Service employees. Some positions are posted to the general public, however, other Postal Service positions are internal, for existing Postal Service employees only. Often the only way for an outsider to get to these positions is to already be employeed contractually.
The Postal Service wants employees that actually want to work for the Postal Service. It does not want individuals whose only reason for applying is to get a well-paying job they can't be laid off from. Therefore, showing that commitment through obtaining a contractual position first, is a very good first step in doing so.

There is a downside to this career path. Namely, your contract may not be renewed. Though never specificaly stated, this non-renewal allows the Postal Service to weed out employees who may not be suited for employment without having to violate union agreements. You should understand that before applying.

However, if you are not renewed on a temporary position, you should be able to quickly find another temporary position with your prior work experience if, and only if, you have been a good Postal Service employee, and your contract was not renewed due to poor performance.

There are many books and sources that will misconstrue how easy it is to obtain a full-time, unionized postal service position. Let us be clear, it is not simple, and will not be easy. Why is it difficult?

  • Full-time Postal Positions offer full benefits, including health care and dental for you and your family.
  • The rates of pay across unionized positions are very good. The Postal Service must ensure that it only gives these well paid positions to hardworking, capable, committed individuals.
  • Most importantly, the vast majority of unionized employees cannot be laid off. Due to union bargaining, these are some of the safest jobs in all of the United States.
Given the immense attractiveness of these positions, and the inability to actually remove employees, the Postal Service is very reserved in giving out these positions to just anyone.

Recommended Career Start: Rural Carrier

All that is required to be a Rural Carrier is that you must live within 50 miles of the delivery center. Most individuals will be able to find an available position within a month or two that will be within their proximity. These positions pay very well, and are very often renewed beyond their contract length. Moreover, though they often themselves become full unionized positions, the experience you gain is invaluable as an actual Letter Carrier, and they often lead into City Carrier positions for those who take these first. This is the preferred track for many individuals into becoming a full-time postal employee.

The downside is that you will likely need available transport to the location. You will be compensated for fuel costs however, you will may need to have the car or truck yourself. If you do not have the ability to transport yourself to the location, you may want to apply for a position closer to home on a temporary basis. These positions may involve mail sorting or handling, or temporary relief for a City Carrier. In these cases, you should always prefer renewable contract positions to temporary relief positions. If you are relieving a Postal Carrier due to illness for instance, you could lose the position once the Carrier returns.

Career Resources: Using and Understanding the USPS eCareer Platform

Searching and applying for a job is a relatively simply process. First, be sure to create a Career Profile, completing every self-explained step. Make sure to use a common email address that you normally check often.

Second, begin looking for a suitable job to start. Click on the Job Search tab that directly links to the USPS Job Board. Here are some important tips for your career search:

  • If you are starting out, limit your search to your STATE and not by JOB TYPE. You will want to be sure you gauge all of the opportunities available.
  • In either case, make sure that your STATE has been properly selected. If you live within 50 miles of the the border of another state you will be wise to search that state as well. If you do not specify a State, the system will not work properly, and you will miss job opportunities.
  • The system is updated daily. Jobs may become available at any time, so be sure that you check back regularly.
  • Make sure you have a completed eCareer Profile done before searching for jobs and it has been followed completely. You do not want to have your job application rejected because you have not uploaded the required information into your eCareer Profile.
  • About the Postal Exam 473


    Due to the limited experience requirements for postal service hirees, the USPS administers an online exam to screen potential applicants. This exam, the 473E, tests the postal service applicant on the skill set required to be a postal employee. The test is administered only once per applicant, and will be used to evaluate your candidacy for any Postal position for at minimum of 30 days. A minimum score of 70 out of 100 is required to be considered.