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Ranking Factors in the Accounting Field

    • Federally employed accountants must address ranking factors of job advertisements.payslip image by Christopher Hall from

      Ranking factors are the means used to assess applicant qualifications for federal government accounting jobs. An accounting or finance position announcement from a federal agency requires you to address each listed ranking factor when you apply for the position. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management notes that while these quality-ranking factors do not rate the skills required to perform the duties of the position advertised, they still must be addressed fully when filling out the application. A comparable job description in private industry may categorize these factors as preferred qualifications.

    Accounting Ranking Factors

    • Ranking factors make the selection process more granular and competitive. According to Gabriel Heilig in "Civil Service Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Get a Civil Service Job," "almost every federal vacancy lists criteria that the hiring agency feels is essential for strong job performance. These criteria are called different names by different federal agencies. Some agencies call these ranking factors, selection criteria or rating factors."

      Heilig adds that ranking factors may also be categorized as "knowledge, skill, ability" or the "KSA" section of the application. Some typical ranking factors in the field of accounting are "knowledge of federal program budgets, regulations and financial reporting procedures and knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles, concepts, and theories and the ability to apply them."

    Desirable Skills for Accountants

    • When viewing an announcement for an accountant position, not all ranking factors relate directly to the field of accounting--many have to do with communication and supervision.

      A July 2010 position announcement for a Supervisory Accountant for the U.S. Department of the Treasury lists the following ranking factors: knowledge of leadership and team facilitation techniques to achieve specific objectives, skill in supervision and management, ability to communicate orally, ability to communicate in writing, knowledge of policies, procedures and regulations applicable to accounting and reporting.

    All Ranking Factors Matter

    • It is not unusual to notice duplicate ranking factors for different job announcements, especially if the jobs are in the same field, such as accounting or a similiar field like finance. In "The Book of U.S. Government Jobs," author Dennis Damp describes the ranking factors as a necessary component of the application process, enabling the hiring agency to assess how well you will perform the duties of the position.

    Counting Ranking Factors

    • Each government agency creates the ranking factors it uses for filling available vacancies. The number of ranking factors to address for each vacancy will vary from job to job. In the field of accounting, you will see four-six factors in a position announcement, but you should not be surprised to see many more or only one, notes Damp. Successfully addressing these quality-ranking factors, claims Damp, greatly improves your chances of obtaining the job for which you are applying.

    Not Just Federal Accountants

    • The use of ranking factors for accounting and financial positions has been adopted by other agencies and can be seen in job vacancies for city government as well. For example, a March 2010 job advertisement for a Financial Analyst for the District of Columbia Public Service Commission requires applicants to address five ranking factors when submitting applications.

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