Writing a successful federal resume

The federal resume is a key component of your government job application, and yet many people don’t know how to properly build one. In this post we’ll talk about how the federal resume is different from a traditional resume and how you can use USAJobs to build a resume that will catch the eye of federal agencies.

Federal and traditional resumes have some major differences. When it comes to creating a federal resume, there are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Your federal resume will be longer than one page. In fact, most entry-level resumes are between 2-5 pages long. This provides a unique opportunity for you to show why — given your skills and previous work and academic experiences — you’re the best candidate for the job.
  • Details are the name of the game. Use numbers, percentages and other specific pieces of information to give the federal recruiter as much detail as possible. Since you don’t have space limitations, feel free to provide as much information as is relevant.
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. The same rules apply here as for other sectors. Use keywords and phrases from the job announcement on your resume to show that you have the right experience for the position.

While you could create a federal resume on your own, I highly suggest using the USAJobs resume builder instead. By going through the USAJobs system, you are guaranteed to include all of the information that is required in your resume. Plus, USAJobs allows you to build up to five federal resumes, meaning that you can tailor your resume to each application you submit. So, do yourself a favor by creating a USAJobs account and building your resume on the website.

The USAJobs resume builder contains four sections:

Getting Started: Here you’ll provide basic information about yourself, including your contact information, any past federal work experience and whether you are claiming veteran’s preference.

Experience: In this section, you’ll add both your work and academic experience. Use keywords from the job announcement, and be specific and detailed about any previous jobs and internships you’ve held — federal recruiters want as much information as possible, and this is a great opportunity for you to market yourself. In the education section, add relevant coursework under your degree programs to give the recruiter a sense of what classes you took in college and how they could relate to the position.

Related Information: This section allows you to add information that paints a broader picture of your interests and experiences outside of work and the classroom. Include your references, any languages you speak, awards you’ve received, publications you’ve written and organizations you belong to.

Finishing Up: Before closing out, be sure to do a spell check and a preview to ensure that your federal resume in good shape. If you’re satisfied, you may activate your resume. You can then use this to apply for positions on USAJobs.

Remember to be specific and detailed when filling out these sections. You’re not limited to one page, so why sell yourself short by withholding information?

The Career Center offers resources and assistance to help you build a great federal resume. Book an appointment with your Career Advisor before submitting that federal application to be sure you’ve covered all your bases.

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