Five Tips for Writing a Compelling Federal Resume

A career in the federal government can be very rewarding. However, the process for obtaining a position can be more extensive. Here are some tips to assist you with writing a great federal resume.

  1. Use the USAjobs.gov resume builder. Whether you are new to the federal hiring process or a current federal employee, building your resume on the site’s builder will ensure that you have the most up-to-date format. In addition, you can be certain that you do not leave out any necessary components that may not typically be included on a private sector resume, such as your employers’ complete street address or the number of hours worked per week. After building your resume, you can download it and customize the order of the sections and format to best showcase your career history.
  1. Read the qualifications thoroughly. Federal recruiters will not make any assumptions about your experience. Therefore be sure to include information on your resume to address at least the basic qualifications and more if applicable. If you do not qualify, do not apply.
  1. Expand on your duties with details to illustrate how your experience aligns with the qualifications listed in the job announcement. It is not enough to simply state that you have the required qualifications. Recruiters are seeking examples of what you were responsible for along with outcomes and quantifiable information to paint a story that will build creditability to your application.  The average federal resume can be 3-5 pages long, if not more, given the length of your work history. Therefore, do not be concerned with the length of your resume as recruiters need to see such detail to accurately score your resume, but be concise.
  1. Use the job announcement’s occupational questionnaire as your checklist. Recruiters will be cross-referencing your responses with your resume so you should do the same. Review each assessment question and ensure details that match your claims are included on your resume.
  1. Include relevant volunteer experience. Recruiters account for all relevant experience whether paid or unpaid. However, details must be included for credit. Format the description of your unpaid experience in the same way that you would for a job to provide valuable insight on competencies, knowledge, or skills that you have demonstrated.

Allow yourself sufficient time to complete your application as it may take a while to gather the necessary information needed to build a compelling federal resume. Bonus tip: Be patient!

University of Maryland University College’s Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. For additional tips on how to create a federal resume, click here to view a webinar from the Partnership for Public Service on the topic (use the password keytoresume15 to access). You can also access UMUC’s additional career tools and resources by visiting CareerQuest today.

Cathy CS News graphicCathy Francois is a career advising specialist at University of Maryland University College and a certified Global Career Development Facilitator. She has served in academic advising and career services for over five years. Cathy has a passion for helping people succeed and uses her diverse experience and interpersonal skills to bring a personalized approach to career advising.