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How To Apply

The Smithsonian follows merit principles and processes to ensure that applicants are evaluated and selected based on the requirements for the position listed under the “Qualifications Required” and “How You Will be Evaluated” section of the vacancy announcement. In the electronic system your application is rated against job related criteria. The highest rated applicants are referred to the hiring manager for possible interview and selection. The quality of the information you provide in your application package is extremely important. Relevant work experience, volunteer experience and education all count.

The Smithsonian employs individuals in Federal Civil Service and non-Federal (Trust) positions. See FAQ section for an explanation of Federal and Trust employment.

Electronic Applications

Applications for all announcements, unless otherwise specified in the announcement, are submited electronically though our online system STARS: Smithsonian Tracking & Applicant Referral System which is accessed through USAJOBS. You will need to have a valid USAJOBS account and at least one saved resume using the USAJOBS Resume Builder to apply to our positions.


To apply to an announcement you will:

  • Log into your USAJOBS account and click on the “Apply Online” button in the upper right hand corner.
  • You will then be asked to select a resume from your list of saved resumes. While USAJOBS allows you to create resumes by either uploading a document, such as a PDF or a .doc file, or through the Resume Builder, our system will only accept resumes created through the Resume Builder.
  • You will then be taken to STARS where you will be asked to answer a number of questions that cover personal data and vacancy specific competencies relevant to the job. These questions will be used to help determine your basic qualification and rating for the position. The questions are in different formats such as yes/no, multiple choice, true/false and possibly short written responses. You will also be able to upload or fax any additional required documentation. Please refer to the individual announcements to review what specific documentation is being requested for any position for which you apply.

    The complete application package, including any required documents is due to the Smithsonian's Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • Near the end of the application process you will be able to create and save a PDF file that contains your responses to the assessment questions. You may save this file as initial receipt of your application. After the job announcement closes, you will receive an email from the Smithsonian with confirmation of receipt.
  • When you have completed your application, STARS will redirect you to USAJOBS.

If you are unable to apply online, paper applications may be accepted with prior approval of the Contact Person listed on the vacancy announcement, but these cases are considered unusual or rare.

Responses to the questions other than personal and eligibility information are the basis for a category or numerical rating. The top rated applications are reviewed by a Human Resources Specialist to ensure that answers on the electronic application reflect the skills and experience on the resume.


Your responses to the online questions must be substantiated by your resume. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher in response to vacancy questions than is evident from the experience, and/or education stated in your resume, your score may be adjusted. Falsifying answers to mislead the automated process is grounds for not hiring you or dismissal after you are hired.


After the review of applications is completed, those with the highest ratings will be notified via email of their referral to the hiring manager. All applicants will receive a final email notification after a selection is made.

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