As a Federal Career Consultant and Federal Resume Writer, I am consulting with many federal job applicants who have submitted 100 to 400 job applications for government jobs on USAJOBS.gov by uploading their private industry resume.
If you want to get Best Qualified for a federal position and hopefully get referred to a supervisor, you have to write a very specific style, content and format federal resume.
Applying for a federal job – as doing any business with the government – is complicated. Of course, the federal resume is NOT the same as the 2 page resume that a person uses for private industry job searches.
14 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS FOR WRITING A SUCCESSFUL FEDERAL RESUME
1. LENGTH: Most federal resumes are 4 to 5 pages long. Mid-career professionals with 15 to 20 years experience will have a 5 page federal resume. A 2 page private-industry resume WILL NOT WORK.
2. MORE DETAILS: You need to include more details about your duties and accomplishments in your last position or the most relevant position. The typical private-industry resume will have 8 to 10 bullets of information about each position. The federal resume duties section spells out what you did, usually in complete sentences. The position that is most relevant for the federal position could be an entire page long.
3. FORMAT: Make sure the resume is readable for human resources specialists who have hundreds of resumes to review to determine who is most qualified for their positions. Many private industry resumes consist of short statements with bullets. Many current federal employees write their resumes in huge block of type based on position descriptions. The best format is a reverse chronological Outline Format Resume. The Outline Format features the top skills needed for the position. For a Public Affairs Specialist, the top skills could be: Media Specialist, Writer-Editor, Researcher / Analyst, Media Events Coordinator.
4. TYPEFONT: Feature the Top Skills in ALL CAPS, so that the busy human resources reviewer can find the skills they are seeking.
5. KEYWORDS: Add language and keywords from the vacancy announcement Duties and Specialized Experience into your federal resume. You can find the keywords by search for words that are repeated multiple times in the announcement; these could be technical terms or phrases that describe specific skills.
6. PROVE YOUR EXPERIENCE: You will see the USAJOBS vacancy announcements will tell you that they want to see One Year Specialized Experience in a certain field in your resume. The announcement will also suggest types of examples that can help to prove your experience.
7. 10 YEARS EXPERIENCE: The federal HR specialists typically read / scan the last 10 years of experience in your federal resume. The years before 10 years can be added to the resume, but keep that information shorter.
8. RECENT AND RELEVANT: The HR specialists will be looking for recent and relevant experience in your Work Experience Section.
9. MONTH, YEAR AND HOURS PER WEEK: It is imperative that you add the month and year and hours per week for your jobs. Since they have to see that you have One Year Specialized Experience in positions and level that are similar to this job, you will need to add this information to your resume.
10. SALARY: The federal resume in USAJOBS.gov asks for your salaries for the last 10 years. They need to see your salaries in order to see your experience and judge the grade level that you could be qualified for in a government position.
11. COVER LETTER: You can add a cover letter into the USAJOBS account now, after Federal Hiring Reform. We recommend a cover letter to emphasize your specialized experience and most relevant training or experience for the position.
12. RECENT AND RELEVANT JOBS: You do NOT have to add every job into your USAJOBS Resume Builder. If you have short-term positions which were taken to earn cash for bills, you can leave it out. Yes, it will leave a little bit of blank time, but the HR specialist is really seeking the specialized experience.
13. 5 USAJOBS RESUMES: USAJOBS will allow you to upload 5 resumes. Create multiple resume versions for each announcement. Your original resume can be changed slightly to match a few keywords for each new announcement.
14. FEDERAL RESUMES MUST BE FOCUSED TOWARD AN OCCUPATIONAL SERIES WITH DIFFERENT KEYWORDS: If you are seeking a Program Analyst position, use the keywords and skills for the position. Keywords for the Program Analyst will be: Analyst, Research, Studies, Efficiency and Effectiveness, Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis, Briefings. If you are also seeking an Administrative Officer position, your keywords will be different: Operations, Budget Management, Supervision, Customer Services, Project Management.