Federal Resume Writing Tips

Choosing the Right Format

Before delving into the content of your federal resume, you first need to think format. Avoid submitting a standard one-page resume. Properly composed federal resumes need to be detailed and lengthy. Many job seekers, especially those switching careers, create functional resumes that eliminate timelines and focus on skill sets. This style is not appropriate for federal resumes.

When preparing your resume, put work experience and education in reverse chronological order, complete with exact dates (to the day). This format helps hiring managers determine length of your experience and your eligible level.

Some resumes do not come into contact with actual humans until vetted by electronic scanning software. Therefore, avoid colored fonts, charts or graphs, italics, underlining, two- or three-column formats, parentheses, tabs or bullet points.

Read Carefully

Read through the job posting carefully. Make a list of keywords you find in the job description to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) the hiring agency is seeking – but may no longer list out in KSA format. Do not repeat the keywords in the job posting exactly as this tactic does not give the hiring agency any real information about your qualifications. Instead, tailor your resume for the specific job posted.

Use Examples

Applicants are encouraged to go into detail about their experiences in their federal resumes. Examples illustrate your experience in a way that a recitation of facts cannot. The more precise your example, the better your chances of being hired. If you are conveying that communication is one of your skills, you can write, “I am an excellent communicator in both written and verbal formats.” However, it’s much more effective to add, “For example, I initiated a weekly interoffice newsletter that informed our 50-person staff about the week’s deadlines, production schedules and team-building events such as office picnics”.

Numbers Talk

The best way to quantify your KSAs is with numbers and percentages backing your claims:

  • Dollars: Your ability to save company money is a huge selling point. So, include how your actions or knowledge resulted in cost savings for former employers. Be specific: 20%, $15,000 annually, etc.
  • Time: Implementing strategies that saved an organization time is an equally desirable quality because it often results in savings as well. “I computerized the company’s records system, eliminating manual filing and saving 5 hours each work week” creates a more meaningful impact than listing the system itself. Working within deadlines also qualifies as “time-saving”, i.e.: “I met publishing deadlines every month of my five-year employment.”
  • Quantity: If you indicate that you designed websites – without additional context – the employer will not know if you created one web site a year or one a day. “I designed three web sites each week consisting of all graphics and text for the landing page and five additional tabs.” This detail sounds a lot more impressive than once a year.

Adapted with written permission from Jason Kay (author) and FedSmith Inc.

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