10 Best Practices for Writing Federal Resumes

Barbara Adams is a five-time certified corporate, military and federal resume writer and career advisor. Learn more from her bio https://www.careerproplus.com/about-us/our-team/barbara-adams/.

The federal hiring process can be daunting. In order to maximize candidates’ chance of success for obtaining a federal job, CareerPro Global offers the following 10 best practices for writing a federal resume:
The Best Practices for Writing Federal Resumes

1. Access and research USAJobs.gov on a regular basis.

On any given day, the federal government advertises up to 10K jobs across the U.S. and internationally on their career portal, www.USAJobs.gov. The federal government employs roughly 2.8 million people from entry-level through the Senior Executive Service and is an excellent place to enter and climb your career field ladder or seek out myriad opportunities to train for a different career.

2. Read the entire vacancy announcement.

Make sure you review who is eligible to apply to see if you are qualified for a particular position. Thousands of positions are open to the general public, however there are also jobs available only to current federal employees, Veterans, and other specialized categories. If you are in doubt as to your eligibility for a particular position, each announcement includes a point of contact for that position, typically at the very end of the announcement, whom you can email or call to verify your eligibility.

3. Get a federal USAJobs resume.

A federal resume is very different from a resume you would use to apply for a corporate/non-federal position. Federal resumes are much longer and include many more details than a “standard” one- or two-page resume used to apply for non-federal jobs. The federal USAJobs resume should be constructed via USAJobs.gov Resume Builder in order to maximize the success of your application once you have identified a federal job vacancy and determined that you are eligible to apply.

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4. Check the series and grade of the position.

Your federal job vacancy will state the series and grade of the position. Most commonly they begin with GS followed by a number, which reflects the career field, then the level. For example, a mid-level Logistics Manager would be reflected as GS-0346-11. GS stands for General Schedule, the most common prefix in the federal system, 0346 reflects the logistics career field, and 11 reflects a mid-level management position. Positions generally range from 5-level up to 15, after which are the Senior Executive Service positions.

5. Search using the duty title or the series.

When searching for positions based on your criteria, you can search under the duty title or the series. For example, 2210 is Information Technology, 0301 is Administration, 0905 is the Legal career field, including attorneys, and 0501 is Finance. A full list of federal series can be found at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/classifying-general-schedule-positions/occupationalhandbook.pdf

6. Use the USAJobs Resume Builder.

As mentioned in tip #3, www.USAJobs.gov has a tool to create your resume called the USAJobs Resume Builder. Much more information is required such as your current and previous employment addresses, months and years you started and ended, salaries, supervisors’ names and contact information, and you will be asked if it is acceptable to contact your current and previous employers.

A federal USAJobs Resume has six blocks for you to provide up to 5,000 characters (approximately 1 ¾ page) of your experience, skills and accomplishments. In the interest of relevance, it is customary to only go back 10-years of previous employment unless going back further will make you more competitive with your experience.

The content for each of your jobs should include the keywords, core competencies and specialized experience specified in the job vacancy announcement combined with your induvial experience and focused on accomplishments. Be sure to incorporate the skills and details mentioned in any questionnaire that is associated with the vacancy announcement.

Anyone can provide job descriptions, but you will stand out in the screening process if you have direct experience, skills and accomplishments stated on the federal job vacancy and you quantify those details to further set you apart from your competition.

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The federal USAJobs Resume will ask for your Education and Training. It is very important to list your undergraduate main courses and graduate courses from accredited colleges or universities if the federal job vacancy requests a certain amount of credit hours in any given career field. You will also be required to list credit hours, and the city, state and zip code where your education was obtained, as well as graduation date.

There is an additional experience section on the federal USAJobs resume that has a limit of 20,000 characters, or approximately 7 pages. If you need to list a seventh job, additional experience such as volunteer experience, or awards, security clearance or a skillset that you were not able to list in the previous six blocks, you can provide the information in that section.

7. Your private sector resume won’t do.

Private sector resumes do not include the abundance of information federal USAJobs resumes requires. The www.USAJobs.gov system will allow you to upload a private sector resume not built using the federal USAJobs Resume Builder, however, there is a good chance that you will receive a rejection notice because your private sector resume will not be tailored to a specific job or have the required content.

8. Carefully review the federal job vacancy announcement.

This is a critical step. In particular, be sure to analyze the “How to Apply” section. This section will tell you if your college transcripts, a cover letter, DD214 or SF 50 documents are required to be submitted with your federal USAJobs Resume.

9. Check your federal resume length

A federal resume can be from three pages up to 10 pages or even more, considering all the information the federal government agency is requesting. As such, do not be alarmed at the length. Also, be advised that a federal USAJobs Resume is unsuitable for use in applying for non-federal positions.

10. Securing a federal job is a considerable undertaking.

However, the reward of gaining a career with security, excellent health benefits and retirement options,

vacation, holiday pay and so much more is a draw for many job seekers and well worth the effort of applying for and obtaining it.

Let the professionals at CareerPro Global assist you

As experts in the field of federal resume development, CareerPro Global would love to assist you in obtaining a job in the federal government by determining where you fit in, identifying the series and grades you are qualified in, and creating a federal USAJobs Resume that is competitive, rich in keywords and core competencies, and in compliance with federal hiring practices.

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