Federal Resume Tips

Federal and Private Sector Resumes

Federal resumes differ from resumes used in the private sector with regard to both content and purpose.

  • Federal resumes 
    • multiple pages long
    • detailed description of work experience and qualifications
    • used to determine if you meet requirements/qualifications for a job announcement. Be sure to list all your experiences (including non-paid).
  • Private sector resumes 
    • generally limited to two pages 
    • brief summary of work history
    • used as a marketing tool to get an interview

In the Federal Government, your resume is your application. There may be an additional component called an assessment questionnaire. The assessment questionnaire asks you to rank yourself on your qualities necessary to do the job being advertised. It must support the experiences listed in your resume.

Curriculum Vitaes

An academic curriculum vitae does not provide enough information to determine if you meet eligibility requirements. If you use one, please be sure to add the information listed below.

Resume Content

Resumes must thoroughly describe how your skills and experiences align to the criteria in the job announcement. It must also support your responses to the assessment questionnaire. To do this, be sure to include detailed examples in your resume.   

Why? We operate under various federal employment laws, rules, and regulations. We are prohibited from drawing conclusions or making assumptions regarding your experience or qualifications.

Resume Checklist

We encourage you to use the USAJobs online Resume Builder. If you use your own resume, you must include the following information:

  • Contact information. This includes your name, address, day and evening telephone numbers, and email address
  • Citizenship (if other than the U.S.)
  • Relevant work experience. This includes paid and unpaid experiences. For instance, volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social)

For each employment listed, include the following information:

  • Job title
  • Employer
  • Dates of employment. Include beginning and end dates in the following format: month/day/year
  • Hours per week. We assume fulltime unless otherwise stated. Employment will be prorated in crediting experience.
  • Description of job duties, related skills, and responsibilities. It’s important to do the following:
    • Include any supervisory/managerial responsibilities and number of staff supervised (if applicable). This information helps determine if you meet minimum eligibility requirements for the position.
    • Review the qualifications section in the job announcement closely and directly address the education, skills, and experience required in your resume.
  • Series and grade or equivalent (if a Federal position)

Education Requirement

If the position has an education requirement or you are qualifying on the basis of education, include the following:

  • Education history.  Specify the type of degree and major of study. 
  • Relevant courses. This information is needed if the position requires credit hours.

Do NOT Include

On your resume and cover letter, you should not include any of the following:

  • A photograph or video of yourself
  • Any sensitive information (age, date of birth, marital status, protected health information, religious affiliation, social security number, etc.)  
  • Links to web pages

Tips

  • Spell out all acronyms.
  • Be descriptive and thorough. Your audience is the recruiter and hiring manager. Assume they are unfamiliar with information pertaining to your current and prior positions. For each experience include:
    • Projects worked on
    • Specific duties and tasks
    • Tools, software, or systems
    • Results and outcomes (i.e. saved money, time, consolidated resources, etc.)
  • Include metrics. Use numbers, statistics, and quantifiable data to describe your achievements and outcomes. This is a great way to describe accomplishments as they relate to the position you are applying to.
    • Example: an individual in the budget field has "worked with disseminating budgets for small projects." To make the description more relevant, the applicant describes the experience with numbers, "disseminated budgets for small projects amounting to $450,000."
  • Use Keywords. Keywords tend to be action verbs and help a recruiter understand your qualifications and experience. They act as descriptions, expressing how you performed a function and the result.
    • Example: When a recruiter reads the keyword "analyst," he or she might assume you have experience in collecting data and evaluating effectiveness.
    • If a job announcement uses a keyword such as "develops," use it in your resume. It is representative of independence in work assignments and the range of responsibility for the available position.
  • Be honest. Be honest in describing your accomplishments, but not modest.

Format

  • Use reverse chronological order to list experience. Start with your most recent experience first and work your way back. An exception: when it is more appropriate to list your most relevant work experience first (e.g. if you are changing careers).
  • Tailor your resume to include information relevant to the specific position you are applying to. Education and work experience that is indirectly related can be excluded if the resume begins to grow too long.
  • Be concise and keep paragraphs short. To make your resume easier to read, add a brief, relevant heading to paragraphs to maximize readability.
  • Use bullets to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
  • Ensure correct grammar and no spelling errors. Your resume is your first impression – make it a good one!
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