Good points, I'll add my spin on the topics.
Here's some real world experience for ya!
I started as a GS-7/10 with the 9/27/10 class and made my first promotion 8 months after my start date and my second promotion 6 months after that. I am now within 6 months of my GS-12 and I just passed the Certification Exam so I can surely say that 2.5 years to get to GS-12 and Hoteling is VERY accurate for at least 98% of Examiners coming in at GS7.
Yes, but 98% vastly overstates how many will make it to GS-12. The commissioner has stated currently attrition is 3.5% for all examiners, during the worst years, the tech boom, attrition was 11% for all examiners. This matches up with the pendency model prediction spreadsheet the USPTO released, but one thing to mention is that it is an average
of all examiners. The attrition rate is by far the highest for GS-7s and GS-9s. Based on the pendency model, it is predicted to be around four times higher for GS-7s and GS-9s. To put it into exact numbers, while a GS-14's attrition rate is about 1.5%, a GS7s and GS9s attrition rate is 11.2%. It drops off drastically by GS11.
So, first you need to be one of the 89% who make it. Then if you want to get to get to hoteling at the fastest speed possible, you need to be doing quite well.
There is no overtime if your production is below fully successful. My first year production was over 115%. My second year is closing in at 130%. Since being promoted to GS-9, I have put in an average of 20 hrs overtime each bi-week thereby making my salarly look more like GS-13. I have saved at least 3k/month since I started working OT and when I go hoteling I will pay cash for a house and that extra 1,500 in rent that I am paying to live in a 1 BR apt here in Alexandria will feel like a pay raise.
Yes, but one thing to note, it is better to max out overtime than it is to go for the awards past 110%. You need about 110% to get a promotion, which is the only reason it is desirable over maxing overtime, rather than just going for fully successful. Claimable overtime pays about 3-6x better than production awards, because the production awards pay a lot less per hour than your base pay.
If you are seeking to move away and make over 100k/year you WILL have to work ahead and sacrifice a little play time while at the office. Always work ahead of your required production. That way you won't feel pressured and you will be assured your promotions and bonuses.
Time flys so burn that oil now and reward yourself later!
Yup, it is much better to front-load than it is to back-load, for a lot of reasons. The most successful of the examiners eventually have next bi-weeks ready to go before the bi-week even starts.
However, don't expect to immediately be able to get up to that speed, it takes time. And the only ones who hit the ground running are those who have done this exact same sort of work before, most start at a crawl.