Even if you are familiar with private sector job hunting, you will still need to learn new skills if you want to find out how to get a government job. The rules are superficially the same - personalized cover letter, resume the emphasizes accomplishments - but the specifics are much different. The search for a local or state job is also somewhat different from searching for a federal job.
Finding Suitable Openings
Every state government has a jobs portal. Locate the relevant state job site by doing a Google search for "state government jobs (your state)". City and county governments also advertise their openings on government job sites.
The federal government posts most civilian job openings to one site - USAJOBS. Bear in mind that USAJOBS generally only lists Executive Branch and some Judicial Branch jobs. Staff openings with the House or Senate, and jobs in federal courts are not listed there. Jobs with the federal courts or public defenders would be found on the US Courts Careers page. You can also find job listing at GovernmentJobs.org Job Openings.
Job seekers can search USAJOBS for jobs listed by title, or by location, or by both. Those are the basic search functions. The site also has advanced search capabilities, so visitors can also search by salary, by work type (temp, or permanent), and by department or agency.
The federal government gives preference to military veterans for some or most openings. Veterans, disabled or not, get points added to their evaluation when the hiring agency reviews their applications.
The federal government also offers job search guidance tailored for military veterans. USAJOBS offers a link to this information, but military veterans can go right to Feds Hire Vets for veteran-specific guidance on getting a federal job.
Identifying the Right Job Title
Finding the right job title is usually easy enough because the government uses the same titles for many roles. A few administrative and management jobs might be advertised under the title of "program analyst" or "management analyst". Job hunters will have to narrow their search by skills to make sure relevant management analyst and program analyst jobs come up.
Most federal, state and local jobs have the expected private sector job titles. An individual with a law degree would look for a job as an attorney or as "general counsel". A network administrator or systems administrator will find possibly openings by running a search for "IT Specialist" or "Information Technology Specialist".
USAJOBS and probably most state and local government agencies allow job seekers to set up job alerts. This saves a little time, because people don't have to constantly go here and there online searching for jobs that match their target job title or job skills.
Creating a Government Resume
The federal government does not accept conventional resumes. The federal government requires far more, and different, information. The best way to create your federal resume is to create an account at USAJOBS.gov, the official United States government portal. The site walks applicants through the necessary resume building steps. Expect this to take an hour or so, more for older and more-experience job seekers.
At the state and local level, the rules for creating a government resume vary from place to place. Sometimes a standard professional or chronological resume is good enough. Many state and local governments do have long online application forms though. Job seekers should be prepared to fill out much of the same information they have on their private sector resume.
Prepare Now for a Government Job Search
Set aside a little extra time to complete an application, and locate the state or local pages that list job openings. If the goal is a federal job, take some time to create an account and a government resume on USAJOBS.