Do the Feds give a Salary boost for honors societies?
April 30, 2012 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Will membership in the college honor society Phi Alpha Theta really boost your federal government salary?

I am a history professor. Today I received a forwarded email that I can hardly believe. It stated, in part:

"As you know, as a member of the Association of College Honor Societies, PAT is party to the 1973 agreement with the Civil Service Commission (now Office of Personnel Management) that gives a GS salary boost for the first federal job. I quote from a March 6, 2012 letter of Dorothy Mitstifer, Executive Director of Association of College Honor Societies: "In most cases, Phi Alpha Theta members will . . . be eligible for this $5,000 - $6,000 advantage in the first job and thereafter—a huge advantage over a lifetime." "

Can this be right? I want to rush into the classroom and tell all my eligible students to join Phi Alpha Theta immediately. But it doesn't sound right to me--surely I would have heard of this before?--and Google knows nothing.

Anyone know?
posted by LarryC to Education (6 answers total)
This seems to explain it, and basically, you get the same bump for having a GPA/academic standing that would make you eligible for an honor society as you do for actually joining the honor society.
posted by decathecting at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes. Hiring managers in government can often hire entry level professionals at either the GS-5 or GS-7 level. The higher the level, the higher the pay. When deciding which level to bring someone in at, there are a number of criteria the hiring manager can use, including academic performance. The fact that a student is in an honor society, and that high academic performance is required for membership in that society, means that it can benefit them. If they're not in a honor society, they can also point to GPA or class standing.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:40 PM on April 30, 2012

I have no experience with this either way, but a quick google search ("Phi Alpha Theta" + GS) leads to a bunch of pages like this one, which shows that membership is evidence of "superior academic achievement", which may allow you to qualify as GS-7 instead of GS-5 for some jobs. Apparently, good GPA along will do that, too.
posted by griseus at 3:40 PM on April 30, 2012

I'm a federal employee and this sounds ludicrous to me.

If a position can be hired at different starting salaries, there are different very specifically defind criteria for each level, and I will eat my hat if something as marginal as this makes a difference, especially since it is up to a random hr employee to decide what level your resume slots into.

Check out listing for and the job descriptions will give you a better idea of what will indeed boost your salary. Things like additional degrees, career specific skill sets, and years in grade are more likely to have an impact.
posted by cakebatter at 4:26 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Came to say what cakebatter said. Sounds like complete bollocks to me.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 8:54 PM on April 30, 2012

I'm a federal employee too and I agree with cakebatter. While there are a number of criteria for entering the GS pay scale, this one seems very minimal at best. Experience relevant to the job is much more important.

I've said this before on Ask Metafilter and I will repeat this: initial screening of applications often is done by people who have absolutely no direct knowledge of the job or skills. They are following the list of requirements set out in the job announcement. When applying for these jobs follow the directions very closely. If there are KSA questions to answer, do so and use the words the job description uses. This will improve your chances that you will be in the next group to go forward for interviews.

Also, make sure your résumé focuses on the criteria for that particular job. Yes, it makes it harder to have to redo your CV for every job but individualizing it will also up your chances.

Good luck.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2012

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