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Job Title:
Human Resources Specialist, GS-0201, Grade 12; $93,175 to $121,128 annually
Type of Position:
Federal Career
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:  This position is open to current and former Federal employees with permanent competitive status or reinstatement eligibility. Individuals who are eligible for a special appointing authority may also apply; such as applicants with a disability, former Peace Corps volunteers, certain military spouses, veterans seeking a VRA/VEOA appointment, or veterans who have been separated from armed forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous active service.


This is the position of Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources Department of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is to plan, organize and independently carry out a wide variety of responsibilities in areas such as recruitment and placement, position classification, management-employee relations, performance appraisals and visa processing for assigned organization within the observatory.


1. Recruit and place Federal and Trust Fund employees in open positions at all levels (up to grade 15) including administrative, technical, scientific, wage board, etc. This process entails evaluation of the position description and grade level as submitted by the supervisor in accordance with USOPM classification standards and guidelines set forth by EEO/AA. Positions are posted internally and listed with appropriate media. Recruiting efforts are to be carried out via mail outs, telephone contacts and personal visits to potential candidate sources, e.g., universities, career fairs, etc.  In conjunction with the hiring supervisor, the incumbent determines selective factors for positions and rates candidates. Wi11 make efforts to increase recruitment sources for special programs.

2. Classify a variety of position descriptions at all levels (as a result of new positions, re‑evaluations of existing positions, for promotions, etc.) in accordance with USOPM position classification standards. Perform desk audits of positions as required or upon special request.

3. Calculate severance payment for SAO employees (both Trust Fund and Federal) who are affected by Staff Reductions. Must be familiar with appropriate rules, regulations and procedures as outlined in the Smithsonian Institution Staff Handbooks and federal rules and regulations. Is responsible for advising managers and supervisors regarding severance and staff reduction policies, including notification deadlines, appeal rights, benefits after staff reduction, etc. Must be cognizant of rules regarding unemployment compensation in states where employees are located. Counsels employees who have been affected by staff reductions including outlining benefits, monitoring severance payments, assisting in resume preparation and outplacement referrals whenever possible.

4. Assists supervisors in handling performance problems, adverse actions, referrals to Employee Assistance Programs, promotions, merit increases, quality and within grade increases, cash awards, full utilization of present personnel, writing performance appraisal plans, etc. Takes part in meetings between supervisors and subordinates to assist in the resolution of problems.

5. Serves as a resource to employees at all levels, including managers and supervisors, on the interpretation of SI/SAO policy. Provides a broad range of counseling to SAO employees regarding SI/SAO policies, practices and procedures. Serves on various management, EEO or other special committees as required.

6. Petition for visas (both immigrant and non‑immigrant) for aliens whom SAO wishes to hire on either a temporary or permanent basis. This includes H‑l's, J‑l's, and permanent residents. Must maintain an excellent working relationship with SI's Office of International Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Labor, Department of State and the United States International Agency (USIA). Is responsible for annual renewal of H‑1 and J‑1 visas for scientists/researchers already on board.


Applicants must possess a minimum of one (1) year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 11 level in the normal line of progress for this occupation.  Specialized experience includes activities such as researching and providing human resources advisory services to supervisors and manager on staffing, classification, employee relations and international programs.  

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.  


APPLICATION PROCEDURE We will only accept applications on line for this position.  For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit USAJOBS:  


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace

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Learn more about SAO Human Resources

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