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How to Create a Competitive Federal Job Resume

in How To on February 15, 2022

Every day numerous federal job openings are created. Thus there is no shortage of good government job opportunities. According to some estimates, the US government alone employs over 4.3 million employees from entry-level to senior executive positions in its workforce.

Federal job opportunities are available for a wide range of people with various qualifications and fields of expertise, including finance, technology, engineering, human resources, business and industry, science, cyber security, medicine, mathematics, and the social sciences.

Whether you are a current federal employee willing to make a career change or to apply for a federal position for the first time, you will need a competitive federal job resume to stand out of the crowd and win the position. Following are a few tips to consider to make this process much easier.


What’s a federal job resume?

A federal job resume is a specific type of resume required to apply for a US federal position. This is a comprehensive document used to communicate detailed information on education, skills, experience, and yourself that wouldn`t be usually mentioned on a conventional resume.

Like a traditional resume, a federal job resume lists your previous job experience and includes major must-have sections like education, contact details, and skills. However, some details make a federal job resume writing much trickier:

  • Resume length. An average federal job resume consists of 4 to 6 pages of written text.
    Level of detail. A federal job resume requires more profound insights into past job experience, roles, and candidates` backgrounds.
  • Documentation. School transcripts, military service records, contacts of past supervisors, and recommendation letters may be required as the annexes of a federal job resume.
  • Requirements. Applying for a federal job position requires candidates to meet all of the specified conditions to be hired.

Thus, if you are about to apply for a federal role, you will need to work on a markedly different resume from a regular one, following strict rules and regulations.


What to include in your federal job resume?

Unlike traditional resumes used in the private sector, federal job resumes require mentioning many additional details. Thus, to meet all the requirements and get the attention of the hiring manager, your federal job resume should include the following:

  • Job announcement number, job title, and grade.
  • Your full name and contact details
  • Country of citizenship
  • Special hiring authorities (Veterans, Peace Corps/AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers, Persons with Disabilities)
  • Work experience
  • Current supervisor details
  • Job-related training courses
  • Job-related knowledge and skills
  • Current job-related certificates, licenses, and civil service exam results
  • Job-related honors, awards, exceptional accomplishments

Apart from the items mentioned above, you are more than welcome to mention your language proficiency, dwell on your volunteer experience, if any, provide the titles and publication dates of any job-relevant articles you have written for recognized journals.


Tips for writing an attention-grabbing federal resume

In addition to the aforementioned points, which are more of an obligatory nature, several actionable tips can help you write a competitive federal job resume. Following are the tips that will land you an excellent federal job.


  • Choose the format

According to USAJOBS, some agencies either accept uploaded resumes or those created using the USAJOBS resume builder, while some may accept only one specific resume template. Nevertheless, three standard resume formats are suitable for federal job resumes as well:

  • Reverse-chronological
  • Functional
  • Combination of the two types mentioned above.

The most common format widely accepted in the US is the reverse-chronological. Furthermore, while a standard resume limits you only to 1-2 pages, a federal job resume provides you with more freedom to go into details and showcase your best self.
What concerns the format? Unless the job opening states a specific format, it is advisable to stick to PDF. These simple tricks will help create a comprehensive and eye-catching resume optimally presenting your personality.


  • Tailor your resume to the job

A common mistake of job seekers is to create a single resume for multiple job applications. But, the federal job is not the case to take a risk. If you are applying for several federal job positions at a time, it would be better to provide a specifically tailored resume for each role.

Be sure to read the job description carefully and highlight key specific requirements for the role. Then cross-reference these requirements with the qualifications or skills mentioned on your resume. In many cases, it helps make you a better fit for the job and make your way to the interview.


  • Use numbers to highlight the accomplishments

Using numbers in your federal job resume will help you get noticed by showing you have verifiable accomplishments. Percentages, grades, the number of people under your supervision, and statistical data will make the information on your resume even more credible. Quantifying your expertise through numbers on your resume proves you can add value to the role. Quantifying your expertise through numbers on your resume proves you can add value to the role.

To use numbers on your federal job resume effectively, identify the precise results of your work and spread the numbers across the following sections, where this data is the most appropriate: summary, work experience, accomplishments, and career highlights.


  • Create an informative summary

While there are disputes concerning the necessity of a resume summary. Federal or not, a comprehensive and informative summary proves effective for any resume. On average, a recruiter spends 7,4 seconds skimming a resume and deciding whether to go into details.

This is where a resume summary comes in and makes a difference. A well-written federal resume summary contains your title and objective, notable achievements, and top skills. As resume summary is the 2-4 sentence paragraph coming right at the top of your federal job resume, it summarizes your work experience giving a snapshot of your application.


  • Mind the additional documents

As it was mentioned earlier, federal positions ofter require additional documentary proof of your eligibility for the role. Usually, these documents are carefully listed in the job description and are compulsory for submission. Thus, your application will not be considered if you miss at least one.
Therefore, read the requirements carefully and ensure you have all the copies prepared in advance, not to miss the opportunity.

Building a comprehensive and actionable federal career resume may seem challenging and tricky. However, as soon as you put a complex problem into simple, clear action, it is not as terrifying as it seemed.
If you are still struggling with whether to take your chance and apply for a federal job opening, go through these actionable tips once again and make sure you have everything needed for the role. Securing for a federal career is demanding, but the requirements are a draw compared to benefits.

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