The U.S. Postal Service is continuously hiring new employees and provides excellent opportunities for those who qualify.
Like most federal agencies, the USPS offers solid benefits and a chance to advance, as well as a variety of jobs. And the pay is pretty good as well. In 2015, the median salary for postal service workers was $56,790 per year, or $27.30 per hour.
Although the postal service’s employment application still contains the dreaded “box,” it does selectively hire those with criminal records.
According to the Application for Employment section of its official handbook, “The Postal Service recognizes that many persons with criminal records have demonstrated successful rehabilitation and are capable of performing the duties of postal jobs. These applicants are entitled to compete for jobs on individual merits.”
Yvonne Ramos, human resources specialist at the San Francisco office of the USPS, concurs.
“Fortunately, the USPS hires them (those with criminal records) with little restrictions,” she says.
USPS offers a variety of job types
And it’s not just letter carriers and post office clerks that the postal service employs. Although these make up the majority of the agency’s workers, according to the book Post Office Jobs by Dennis V. Damp, it also hires building, equipment and vehicle maintenance workers, IT specialists and others.
Those interested in a U.S. Postal Service job can apply online by creating an account and filling out all the information required, including an employment history.
This may be a bit tricky for some who have been incarcerated, because the form won’t be accepted if it has any gaps in time. The workaround for many of those who have served time is to include the jobs they did while in prison and listing the state that they were in as their employer. For example “food service, State of California” for someone who worked in the kitchen of a California state prison.
Those applying for letter carrier jobs that require Test 473 must then fill out an online assessment. Applicants who successfully complete the online assessment are invited to complete a proctored assessment at an approved location. This usually has to be done within a one-week period of time, so it’s important to pay attention to your email messages.
For those who advance to the point of taking the test, there are plenty of ways to prepare, including watching YouTube videos.
Some USPS offices are offering one-hour free workshops providing information on how to take the test. There’s also a detailed explanation of the process on the USPS website.
For those unable to attend one of these workshops, the United States Postal Service website offers examples of sample questions that give a better idea of what the test entails.
USPS test’s four sections
The test is divided into four sections:
- Part A Address checking comparing two lists of address to see which ones are incorrect.
- Part B Forms completion concerns determining the information needed to fill out certain forms.
- Part C Coding and Memory consists of assigning codes based on a coding guide and then assigning codes from memory.
- Part D Personal Characteristics and Experience Inventory consists of personal questions that evaluate your personality characteristics, work style and experience. There are no right or wrong answers, but they must be answered honestly. This is the most extensive part of the test, with 296 items to be completed in 90 minutes.
After completing both assessments, applicants who the USPS is interested in will be called for an interview. Those who are not chosen can continue to apply for jobs. The test results are valid for six years.
In the meantime, you may want to consider reaching out to the different letter carriers in your community for their insights on the test and other possible suggestions they may have for preparation. In addition, they may know of other job openings. The post office can offer a good career and is worth considering and making it part of your job search plan.