Skip to main content
Job Title:
Human Resources Specialist, IS-0201, Grade 13; $116,820 to $151,870 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-Federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:  This position is open to all qualified applicants.  


What are Trust Fund Positions?

Trust Fund positions are unique to the Smithsonian. They are paid for from a variety of sources, including the Smithsonian endowment, revenue from our business activities, donations, grants, and contracts. Trust employees are not part of the civil service, nor does trust fund employment lead to Federal status. The salary ranges for trust positions are generally the same as for federal positions and in many cases trust and federal employees work side by side. Trust employees have their own benefit program and may include Health, Dental & Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, Transit/Commuter Benefits, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Annual and Sick Leave, Family Friendly Leave, 403b Retirement Plan, Discounts for Smithsonian Memberships, Museum Stores and Restaurants, Credit Union, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (Child Care), Flexible Spending Account (Health & Dependent Care). 


Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-employment Background Check and Subsequent Background Investigation for position designated as low risk.
  • Complete a Probationary Period
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer.
  • The position is open to all candidates eligible to work in the United States.  Proof of eligibility to work in U.S. is not required to apply.
  • Applicants must meet all qualification and eligibility requirements within 30 days of the closing date of this announcement. 




  1.  Applying an expert knowledge of recruitment and placement principles and concepts, recruits and places Federal and Trust Fund employees in all grade levels up to, and including, grade 15, and provides guidance and assistance to managers/supervisors on recruitment and placement programs. Provides authoritative interpretation and instructions on laws, regulations, policies and procedures, and advises management on appropriate courses of action. In conjunction with the hiring supervisor, the incumbent determines selective factors for positions and rates candidates. Responsible for a variety of recruiting efforts through a number of outlets, to increase recruitment sources for special programs, and seek out the most effective media outlets. Participates in pre- and post-RIF planning and actions for Trust and Federal employees. Counsels employees who have been affected by staff reductions, including outlining benefits, monitoring severance payments, assisting in resume preparation, and outplacement referrals.
  2.  Provides expert position management and classification support to assigned organizations. Develops and evaluates position descriptions for all position actions, including a significant amount of highly complex positions. Applies classification standards and supplemental guidance to determine title, series and grade. Assists management with planning and implementing reorganizations. Provides advice on organization/position structures, possible classification changes, position or employee impact and related actions to assure policy and regulatory compliance. Completes classification and position management surveys as needed, to implement reorganizations, apply new standards or complete other position or organization changes.
  3.  Provides expert advice and assistance to managers/supervisors on 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. Provides advice and assistance when difficult problems arise in establishing and maintaining management-employee relationships that contribute to satisfactory productivity, motivation, morale, and discipline. Responds to difficult situations in correcting work deficiencies, poor performance, and leave abuse.  Informs managers/supervisors of regulatory and other requirements in effecting dispute resolutions, disciplinary actions, removals, suspensions, and grievances and assists in the development of required correspondence/documents.  Provides advice regarding the administration of formal rating plans, as well as assistance in resolving complaints concerning performance ratings.  Takes part in meetings between managers/supervisors and subordinates to assist in the resolution of problems.
  4.  Keeps abreast of new developments and regulatory guidance from SI, OPM, and other sources in all areas of Human Resources management. Provides expert advice on policy, directives, and guidelines on a full range of matters relevant to assigned functions.
  5.  Petitions 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, J-1, O-1, TN-1, and permanent resident petitions, as well as all derivatives. Must maintain an excellent working relationship with SI's Office of International Affairs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, Department of Labor, Department of State, and the United States Information Agency (USIA). Responsible for annual renewal of visas for foreign national employees/visitors already on board.
  6.  Serves as a personnel expert on various Management, EEO, HRIS, or other special committees as required. Prepares a variety of reports as requested by the Director of Human Resources, members of top SI/SAO management, other SAO managers or supervisors, or on own initiative. As required, conducts various studies and evaluation activities of program areas. Prepares and presents results, and recommends corrective actions based on findings. Follows up, to assure completion of required actions.


Experience: Applicants must possess a minimum of one (1) year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 12 level in the normal line of progress for this occupation.  Specialized experience includes activities such as researching and providing expert human resources advisory services to supervisors and manager on staffing, classification, employee relations, performance, HR automated systems and international programs.  

There is no substitution of education for experience at this grade level. 

Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria: 


1. Mastery of, and skill in applying, Federal position classification rules, regulations, and techniques for developing position descriptions, sufficient to: provide managers with technical guidance in preparing their position descriptions; and maintain and ensure SAO-wide position classification accuracy and consistency in interpreting and applying position classification standards.


  2. Mastery of, and skill in applying, Federal staffing regulations and procedures, private sector recruiting techniques, and the use of special recruiting provisions for hard-to-fill positions and special employment programs as well as the ability to apply this knowledge creatively to difficult and complex situations in the area of attracting and retaining competent professional, administrative, technical, and clerical employees.


  3. Mastery of, and skill in applying, a wide range of advanced HR principles, concepts, and practices, as well as seasoned consultative skills sufficient to provide management consultative service involving a variety of HR functions.


  4. Comprehensive knowledge of immigration law, policy, and procedure sufficient to: develop visa policy and guidelines for SAO, recognize appropriate visa categories for potential visitors and foreign national employees, and prepare USCIS petitions for the appropriate visa category; advise managers, visitors, and foreign national employees on the guidelines and restrictions of their particular visa category; and work with immigration attorney to assist in preparation of Permanent Residency petitions.


  5. Expert knowledge of employee relations techniques, employee benefits and employee training, both government and private sector.


  6. Effective communication skills.


 Applicants, who wish to qualify based on education completed outside the United States, must be deemed equivalent to higher education programs of U.S. Institutions by an organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. This documentation is the responsibility of the applicant and should be included as part of your application package.


Any false statement in your application may result in your application being rejected and may also result in termination after employment begins.


The Smithsonian Institution values and seeks a diverse workforce. Join us in "Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery."

Resumes should include a description of your paid and non-paid work experience that is related to this job; starting and ending dates of job (month and year); and average number of hours worked per week.  

What To Expect Next: Once the vacancy announcement closes, a review of your resume will be compared against the qualification and experience requirements related to this job. After review of applicant resumes is complete, qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager.


NOTE: Recruitment Incentive: Recruitment incentive(s) may be authorized for this position.  However, approval for incentives is contingent upon various availability. If authorized, certain incentives will require the incumbent to sign a service agreement to remain in the Federal government for a certain time period.
This statement does not imply nor guarantee an incentive will be offered and paid.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact Judy Gallagher by email at Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.  To learn more, please review the Smithsonian’s Accommodation Procedures.


The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds support and enhance our daily work life and contribute to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. See Smithsonian EEO program information:

About Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is joined by Harvard College Observatory to form the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.  The Center is a collaboration between Harvard and Smithsonian designed to ask — and ultimately answer — humanity’s greatest unresolved questions about the nature of the universe.   Founded in 1973, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is an ongoing collaboration designed to foster innovation and propel discovery.  Our mission is to advance knowledge of the Universe through research in astronomy and astrophysics and in related areas of fundamental physics and geophysics.

At the CfA, scientists in a broad range of disciplines study the universe at every scale, from every wavelength, and using telescopes and instruments that span and orbit the globe, all with a single purpose: making groundbreaking discoveries that advance human knowledge.



How to Apply:  Please use the following link to visit Smithsonian's Career Page:  Smithsonian Institution Job Opportunities Site


Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website