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New Hire Onboarding Guide | Phase 1: Tentative Selection

Forest Service employee working with volunteer. Forest Service photo.
Real Jobs. Real Impact.

Congratulations! You have been tentatively selected and are now ready for Phase 1, Pre-employment, of the onboarding process.

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A hiring manager has selected you for a position with the Forest Service. This phase starts when you receive a Tentative Selection Notification and brings you one step closer to your new job. This phase may take 30-45 days to complete.

  1. You will receive a Tentative Selection Notification (TSN), usually by email, from a human resources case manager. The notice includes your title, series, pay grade, duty station, and instructions for completing your pre-employment requirements. The Tentative Selection Notification is NOT a confirmed job offer, you should wait until you receive an Official Job Offer in Phase 2 before you leave your current job or begin moving.
  2. Follow the instructions in the notice to complete your pre-employment forms and other requirements by the deadlines listed. Below are potential pre-employment requirements that your notice may include depending on your position. 
  3. You will also receive a series of emails that will share more information with you and remind you of things you need to do during the onboarding process.

Helpful Resources and Potential Requirements

Form OF-306 Declaration for Federal Employment

We use the information on this form to examine your suitability for federal employment. It's a requirement for all new hires unless you are a current or recent federal employee with a current federal background check, investigation, or clearance record at the required level of your position. Review a short video reviewing the Suitability process.

Fingerprints and Background Investigations

Most new permanent and temporary Federal employees receive an FBI criminal history check. Along with your Tentative Selection Notification (TSN) is a document that explains how to contact Fieldprint USA to submit your electronic fingerprints. Pay attention to the deadline for when you need to submit your fingerprints. If you recently completed this process for another Forest Service job, or you already have a current Federal background investigation on record from the military or another Federal agency, this step may not be necessary.

Permanent employees receive an additional in-depth background investigation. A case manager will contact you and share how you need to complete an online background questionnaire (eQIP).

Drug Testing

Drug testing is only required for certain types of positions. Drug Testing Designated Positions (TDP) generally include jobs related to public health and safety, the protection of life and property, law enforcement, or national security. If your position is a TDP, you must complete and pass a pre-employment drug test before you receive a Confirmed Job Offer. If you fail the pre-employment drug test, we will rescind your tentative job offer and restrict you from employment in any Forest Service position for a minimum of six months.

Positions that require a commercial driver's license (CDL)

These positions fall under the Forest Service Drug Free Workplace Program. You must register with the DOT Clearinghouse as a driver. Some positions require a query for pre-employment screening. Some positions limit your performance of safety sensitive duties until you get a CDL and a query is complete, within 90 days. Your Tentative Selection Notice will have these details. We will not send you an official job offer until a negative drug test result is reported.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts are only a requirement for some occupations with defined education requirements or to verify eligibility for appointments such as Pathways student interns or recent graduate positions. 

Maximum Entry Age (MEA) Waiver

For permanent employees, a waiver may be a requirement for selectees who exceed the maximum entry age for certain public safety jobs. For example, firefighter and law enforcement positions, which are subject to a maximum entry age requirement. Your case manager will let you know if this applies to you.

Medical Evaluation

If a medical evaluation is a requirement for your position, your case manager will inform you of the process.


The pay for most positions is based on the Government Schedule (GS) grade. Steps within each grade allow periodic, modest pay increases. Pay is based primarily on the responsibilities of the position, but your location can also affect your pay. Visit the Office of Personnel Management Salaries and Wages webpage to learn more.

Advanced Pay Setting or Leave Accrual

Speak to your supervisor about this incentive if you have exceptional experience, a history of high salary, or years of government experience. Check with your case manager for more information. The requests go through extensive reviews at prominent levels of the agency. Approvals may only be possible before employees start their new jobs.


Benefits vary. Review the benefits list in Phase 2 and speak to your supervisor or case manager if you have any questions.

Transferring from Another Federal Agency

For permanent positions, if you are transferring as a current Federal employee from another agency, your case manager will contact your current agency to complete a Standard Form 75 Request for Preliminary Employment Data. 

Relocation or Recruitment Allowance

A relocation or recruitment allowance is a monetary incentive to support your move to your new position. It may be a pre-determined amount paid directly to you or reimbursement for expenses related to your move. Your hiring manager may offer one of these incentives if your position is eligible and meets certain criteria for hard-to-fill positions. If you accept an incentive allowance, you must sign a service agreement requiring you to work for the Forest Service for a certain time period or you must pay back the incentive.

Information Security Awareness (ISA) Training

You must complete the USDA Information Security Awareness (ISA) Training before reporting to work. Your Tentative Selection Notification will include a link to the training and instructions for how you need to share your certificate of completion. Make sure you use the same personal email you have used throughout applying and onboarding. Complete this ASAP.

Help Is Available: New Hire Help Desk

Available weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Mountain Time.