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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 via email, from a human resources case manager. The notice provides the title, series, pay grade, duty station, and instructions for completing your pre-employment requirements. 
  2. Follow the instructions in the notice to complete your pre-employment forms and other requirements within the timeframes indicated. Below are potential pre-employment requirements that may be included in your notice depending on the position and type of appointment for which you are selected. 
  3. You will also receive a series of emails during the onboarding process designed to remind you of actions you need to take while sharing information about the broad onboarding process and perhaps most importantly, the agency you are joining.

Tip: Since 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 resign or give a departure notice to your current employer. 

Helpful Resources and Potential Requirements

This information is used to determine your suitability for federal employment. It is required for all new hires unless you are a current/recent federal employee with a current federal background check, investigation, or clearance record at the required level of your position. Watch a short video reviewing the Suitability process.

Most new permanent and temporary Federal employees receive an FBI criminal history check, which includes submitting fingerprints. Attached to your Tentative Selection  Notification (TSN) is a document that explains how to contact Fieldprint USA to submit your electronic fingerprints. Pay attention to the timeframe in which 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. An HRM Personnel Security official will contact you to begin that investigation process. The case manager will provide you with information you need to complete an online background questionnaire (eQIP).

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 prior to receiving a Confirmed Job Offer. If you fail the pre-employment drug test, your tentative job offer will be rescinded, and you will be restricted 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. The Forest Service will not send you an official job offer until a negative drug test result is reported.

Other Non-CDL Drug Testing Designated Positions

Drug testing normally happens before entering a position. The Forest Service will tell people who have had their drug test postponed due to COVID-19 when the program begins again.

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

For permanent employees, a waiver may be required for selectees who exceed the maximum entry age for certain public safety jobs such as firefighter and law enforcement positions, that are subject to a maximum entry age requirement. Your human resources case manager will inform you if you must sign an MEA waiver request.

If a medical evaluation is required for your position, your human resources case manager will inform you of the process for completing medical requirements.

The pay for most entry-level Federal positions are based on the Government Schedule, or GS, pay rate or ‘grade’. Steps within each pay grade create a structure for periodic, modest pay increases. Pay rates vary based primarily on the responsibilities of the position; however, the geographic location of the position can also affect the rate of pay. Visit the Office of Personnel Management Salaries and Wages webpage to learn more.  ​

Information about the diversity of benefits that may be available to you as a new Federal employee can be found at Federal Benefits.

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 a 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 completion of a period of service with the Forest Service to receive and retain the allowance.

These benefits may be requested if conditions are met based on exceptional experience, salary in a previous position, or years of prior government experience. These requests must be requested and approved before you start your job. Leave accrual is only available for permanent positions. Check with your HR case manager for more information.

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

All Forest Service employees are required to complete USDA Information Security Awareness (ISA) Training prior to reporting to work. You will be provided a link and instructions in your Tentative Selection Notification. The correspondence will include time-sensitive instructions for completing the training and sharing your certificate of completion with human resource officials. Please ensure you use the same personal email you have used throughout your selection/onboarding process and complete the training as soon as it is feasible.

Help Is Available: New Hire Help Desk

877-372-7248, Option 4

HRM_contact_center@usda.gov

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

https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/employee-welcome/permanent-employees/employee-phase1