Best Practices for Writing a Strong USAJobs Resume

As you may well know, many federal positions out there (if not most) require you to use the USAJobs resume builder when applying for government job openings. Keep the following best practices in mind to help ensure a targeted and effective resume.

  • Find a job, and read the entire vacancy announcement from top to bottom.
  • Pay close attention to the duties, qualifications, specialized experience, KSAs, time-in-grade, and/or education requirements. Ask yourself, “Will I be able to demonstrate that I have what they are looking for in my resume?”
  • Think of the duties and qualifications as “questions” and consider whether you have done them in a previous or current position. If so, use some of the terminology/keywords and mix them in with your own duties and accomplishments.
  • If there is an assessment questionnaire, click the link to preview the questions. Keep these USAJobs resume tips in mind when creating your resume.
  • For each position going back approximately 10 years, include your key duties/scope of responsibility. Next, include your top 5-10 specific achievements for each position. Try to use bullets that are relevant to the position you are applying for, and use the Challenge-Context-Action-Result format whenever possible.
  • Write your resume offline using Microsoft Word, making sure the content in each job is under 5,000 characters.
  • Proofread your work for any errors! Use spell check and ask a friend or colleague to take a look.
  • Take a final “editorial” look, and ask yourself, “If I were the reviewer, would I be able to clearly see that this person possesses the skills, knowledge, KSAs, specialized experience, etc. that I am looking for in the job announcement?”
  • Read the How to Apply and Required Documents sections very carefully. Send in exactly what is requested/required—nothing more and nothing less. For example, if a cover letter or transcripts are not asked for, don’t submit any.


Lee Kelley is an Iraq War Veteran and former Army Captain who now serves as the senior writer on CareerPro Global’s writing team. Leveraging the company’s vast expertise in assisting thousands of SES and federal job seekers, Lee has personally developed hundreds of resumes and more than a thousand ECQs. He is also the Director of Training and Veteran Transitions, and has provided USAJobs resume writing services to hundreds of federal employees and our military. In addition, Lee is an author and executive coach. He co-authored the book Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application. His latest book is titled Inside Marine One: Four U.S. Presidents, One Proud Marine, and the World’s Most Amazing Helicopter.


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