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Tips on Creating a Federal Resume

A Resume is your ticket to a job, it must do 2 things, qualify you for a job, and impress a hiring manager enough to get you an interview.

In general there are two types/usages of resumes:

  1. A public/private resume, is preferably one, but no more than two pages in length and in bullet format that gives a very brief synopsis of your work history and is preferred by many companies and organizations that may not take or have the time to review a long comprehensive resume. Many recruiters may tell you at a job fair they prefer only the short resume. This type of resume is more commonly used when attending job fairs where there may be no or very few federal agencies participating. This type is also very popular with resume writing classes that are offered, many times at job fairs. This type resume may offer you very limited competitiveness against a well developed federal resume for a federal job.

  2. A federal resume, is generally several pages in length, sentence and paragraph format that describes more detailed information on what skills, knowledge and abilities you posses that come as close as possible to matching the requirements listed in a federal job vacancy announcement. This type of resume is more difficult to create and requires you to read the announcement very closely to determine the key words and sentences listed. Ensure those key words and sentences are included in your resume if possible. Many of you may have multiple skills and you may find it to your advantage to create more than one resume on USA Jobs.

General information on how to enhance your resume:

  1. The easier a resume is to read and the more focused it is on the agencies requirements, the faster it is for human resources staff to determine if you qualify and for hiring managers to evaluate your qualifications.

  2. You must concentrate your qualifications on the skills, knowledge, abilities and requirements listed in the vacancy announcement and you should focus your professional background as they relate to the needs of the organization.

  3. Use titles or headings that match the jobs you are applying for if possible. A “one resume fits all” is not appropriate. Employers may make quick decisions when scanning your resume. Your resume must highlight the most important information about your experiences/education/skills, that relate to the job you are applying for.

  4. It is very important to civilianize your resume as much as possible. Many hiring managers and HR staff have little or no experience in the military and may have no idea what phrases like, First Sergeant, Battalion Commander, battalion, squadron, Sergeant Major, brigade, boatswain mate, watch commander, yeoman, to name a few. Many military acronyms are also not understood, such as SOCOM, USACOM, OPS SGT, S-1, G-2, J-4, JSOC, etc. Have someone who has no military experience read your resume, if they have questions or do not understand something you have listed, chances are our HR staff and hiring managers may have the same questions.

  5. Using numbers, statistics and quantities to describe achievements and skill sets can improve how well you may compete with other job seekers. When possible, if you can show you have saved an organization money, streamlined a process to increase productions, improved efficiencies in an operation, as examples, it becomes easier for hiring managers to rank you against all the other resumes they are reviewing. It enhances your resume when you can point out some significant accomplishments, or show the impact you have had with an organization, especially if those accomplishments relate directly to the type of position you are applying for.

  6. It is a very common practice in the military, especially on evaluation or fitness reports to just make a list of the duties you perform and to use words such as responsible, assist, coordinate, etc. Using power words or active verbs to describe accomplishments is a stronger way to convey your skills. These are a few examples of power words/active verbs: Accomplished, administered, analyzed, contracted, created, directed, developed, drafted, established, improved, implemented, negotiated

  7. Since many of you will have multiple skills sets and thereby making creating a federal resume more difficult, I suggest the following:
    1. Look for 4 to 5 different job announcements you believe you are qualified for and interested in, lay them out on a table and go through each one, from start to finish, making sure you capture all the requirements, duties, responsibilities, etc and highlight the KEY WORDS and SENTENCES in each,
    2. Use a search engine such as Google and request information on the job titles listed on the announcements. This will give you a generic listing of the types of responsibilities and duties that apply to that title (usually in civilian terms). Now compare your resume to all the highlighted parts of each job announcement and the generic list from Google and see if you have a large number of those items already listed in your resume, if not and you possess the skills, then add them to your resume.
    3. Remember, for a federal resume you are NOT trying to do a one or two page quick resume, you are trying to create a comprehensive, well written resume that is relevant to the jobs you are applying for. Now that you have added all of that, you now have a more comprehensive resume that may not need to be changed for every job you apply for.

  8. There is also certain information that should not be included on your resume: SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS, RACE, RELIGION, MARITAL/FAMILY STATUS, HEALTH STATUS, PHYSICAL APPEARANCE (no photos please), GENDER, AGE, REFERENCES (use references available upon request, this ensures they will be current), HOBBIES AND COLLEGE FRATERNITIES/SORORITIES.


Updated: January 2013

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