Tips for Writing a Federal Resume
Resumes used for Federal Government jobs differ from those used in the private sector with regard to both content and purpose:
- A federal resume is typically multiple pages and includes a detailed description of your work experience and qualifications that align with the requirements listed in a federal job announcement. Human Resources professionals review your federal resume to determine whether you meet the qualifications stated in the job announcement for the position that you are applying. The Federal Government does not have a standard job application - your federal resume is your application.
- A private sector resume is generally limited to two pages and provides a brief synopsis of your work history. A private sector resume is essentially a marketing tool to help you get an interview with an employer.
Your resume must thoroughly describe how your skills and experiences align to the criteria defined in the qualifications section of the job announcement and support your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Federal Human Resources professionals operate under various federal employment laws, rules, and regulations. We are prohibited from drawing conclusions or making assumptions regarding your experience or qualifications. It is up to you to describe your past work experience in detail by providing examples related to those listed in the requirements section of the job announcement.
To ensure all of the essential information is in your resume, we encourage you to use the USAJobs online Resume Builder . If you choose to use your own resume, you must ensure it contains all of the required information and you organize it so we can associate the necessary information for each experience/position on your resume:
- Current contact information including name, postal address, day and evening telephone numbers, and email address
- Citizenship (if other than the U.S.)
- Relevant work experience. Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social)
- Job title
- Name of employer
- Beginning and ending dates of employment (month/day/year format)
- Hours worked per week. We will assume fulltime unless otherwise stated. We will prorate part-time employment in crediting experience.
- Detailed description of job duties, related skills, and responsibilities; including any supervisory/managerial responsibilities and number of staff supervised (if applicable). This information is necessary to determine whether you meet minimum eligibility requirements for the position. Please 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)
If the position has an education requirement or you are qualifying on the basis of education, you need to list your education history including the type of degree and your major of study. If the position requires a certain number of credit hours, you are strongly encouraged to list the relevant courses in your resume.
Do not include a photograph or video of yourself, or any sensitive information (age, date of birth, marital status, protected health information, religious affiliation, social security number, etc.) on your resume or cover letter. We will not access web pages linked on your resume or cover letter to determine your qualifications.
General Guidance on Content
- It is important to be descriptive and thorough – use more detail than you think is necessary. Your audience is the recruiter and hiring manager, and should be considered to be unfamiliar with tasks, proprietary systems, acronyms, or other specialty information pertaining to your current and prior positions and organizations. It is important that you use clear language and spell out all acronyms.
- For each experience include:
- Projects you have worked on
- Your specific duties and tasks
- Tools, software, or systems
- Results and outcomes (i.e. saved money, time, consolidated resources, etc.)
- For each experience include:
- Use numbers, statistics, and quantifiable data to describe your achievements and outcomes. Numbers, statistics, and quantifiable data are a great way to describe the responsibility, pressures, and accomplishments of your previous endeavors as they relate to the position you are applying to. For example, an individual who was in the budget field has "worked with disseminating budgets for small projects." But when the applicant describes the experience with numbers, the description is more relevant as "disseminated budgets for small projects amounting to $450,000."
- Keywords are powerful words that can enhance a recruiter’s understanding of your qualifications and experience. For example, when a recruiter reads the keyword "analyst," he or she might assume you have experience in collecting data, evaluating effectiveness, and researching and developing new processes. Keywords are most likely action verbs. When constructing your explanation of previous experience, you should use action verbs to act as descriptions, expressing how you performed a function and the result. If the job announcement uses keywords to describe the duties such as "develops" or "implements," these words are representative of independence in work assignments and the range of responsibility for the available position. You should include your experience "developing" or "implementing" to demonstrate your previous independence.
- Be honest in describing your accomplishments, but not modest.
- Use reverse chronological order to list your experience – start with your most recent experience first and work your way back, except when it is more appropriate to list your most relevant work experience first (e.g. if you are changing careers).
- Length is multiple pages; however it is important to tailor your resume to include information relevant to the specific position you are applying to. Many applicants are proud of their work experience and want to list everything. All information that relates directly to the position should be included on your resume; however, education and work experience that is only indirectly related can be excluded if the resume begins to grow.
- Be concise and keep paragraphs short. To make your resume easier to read, add a carriage return (blank line) between sections.
- Use bullets to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
- Your resume is your first impression – make it a good one! Use correct grammar and ensure that there are no spelling errors.
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