Federal resumes are very different from the ones private sector jobs use. Federal resumes use a format mandated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that helps standardize all the applications the federal government receives. The name of the federal resume is called a USAJobs resume. So many people apply for these jobs that OPM needs a way to sort through them in an orderly manner. Making sure every resume has the same categories of information makes it easier for OPM to compare them. There are many categories on a USAJobs resume such as the address of your current and past positions, supervisors name and contact information and salary.
The federal government also looks for specific qualities and experience in job candidates. You must include information in your resume that corresponds to what is listed in the job announcement. Your resume content should demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job and include extensive evidence of your skills, experience, competencies and accomplishments. When you add all this together, that makes for a longer-than-standard resume. Yet the government is working toward requiring shorter resumes in time.
The Components of a Federal Resume
Federal resumes can be more than five pages long and normally with all the required information could be up to 10 pages. The federal hiring agencies are requesting that your career information is clear, concise and competitive. Less pages is more, however, you may have experience that exceeds 10 years and must include jobs from years back. That may seem surprising, considering the long-held wisdom that private sector resumes should be no more than one or maybe two pages.
But federal resumes are not like private sector resumes. They have a special format that requires them to communicate specific situations where the candidate accomplished a task in accordance with the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of the position. In other words, you must tell a story within your content in the CCAR (Challenge, Content, Action and Result) formula.
Your resume should be targeted to the vacancy announcement, series and grade of the position of interest. If the announcement says you need 10 years of experience at a certain level or with leading large groups, then your resume should provide in-depth details and examples of these requirements.
Every federal resume should include detailed sections on:
Professional Experience: Including pay grades and tangible results achieved during your tenure, such as a 10 percent rise in company sales
Other Professional Details: Such as former supervisors’ names, salary, public speaking appearances, publications and awards
Education: Many jobs request a certain level of education, which you need to reference
Other Training You Have Related to the Job You Are Applying For: If the vacancy announcement calls for a particular type of training, you need to include that exact wording in your resume
Specialized Experience: Each vacancy announcement requests specialized experience and you must address your experience within the resume.
Government jobs are critical not just to the well-being of your career, growth, but also a contribution to our nation. OPM needs to know as much as possible about a candidate before considering them for a job. The more detailed and competitive the resume, the easier it is for the agency to identify who it does and does not want to interview.
The Future of Federal Resumes
The days of the seven or more page resumes may soon come to an end, though. The government is moving toward a more concise format. Five-page federal resumes have become the new norm for senior executive positions. SES resumes are no more than five pages long for most jobs, and some agencies require no more than four pages.
Why the change? It’s largely practical. Seven or more page resumes contain a lot of information, some of it unnecessary to the position you are pursuing. For example, the government has pushed to include only relevant job experience instead of listing every position you have ever held. If you apply for a job with border patrol, for instance, you can leave off your time as a college camp counselor after college.
The aim of making resumes shorter is to focus them on skills needed for the job at hand. The government does want to know if you can speak another language or went to flight school. It doesn’t need to know about a flower arranging class you took
Shorter resumes also take less time to comb through. Cutting down on the time for any process saves money and still leads to strong hires.
A shorter resume also generally contains less “fluff.” The federal application process has no room or time for fluff. You want your resume to stand out on its merits, not by writing more words. The government wants to encourage more concision to make its search easier.
Our Master Federal Resume Writers Can Help
With the format changes of late to federal resumes and the complex nature of this area overall, hiring a professional to guide your federal resume writing is your best bet to get a federal job. We know how long a federal resume should be. We have a familiarity with the history of USAJobs and SES resumes and how they have changed over the years. We can draw on this knowledge to construct the perfect resume for you, which showcases your strengths and experience but isn’t overly long or wordy.
We have the track record to show we can deliver on these promises, too. With almost four decades of experience behind us, CareerProPlus writers have assisted more than 65,000 clients with their federal resumes. We understand which keywords to use in your resume and which ones to skip. We have a high satisfaction rate among clients because we approach this task collaboratively. We ask you questions and use the answers to construct your resume. You can participate in the process and offer feedback on our progress.
Federal jobs draw many candidates. Make your resume stand out from the others by employing the proven services of CareerProPlus writers. We offer a 5-point satisfaction guarantee. Our experienced and multi-certified writers can turn your resume into something that catches OPM’s eye by knowing how to integrate competitive content and ensure your resume is compliance with all federal job application requirements. Contact us today to get a quick quote on your resume by filling out our online contact form. We look forward to assisting you.
Barbara Adams is the founder and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. and has led the company since 1990. She is recognized as one of the pioneers in the career services industry and a titan of the resume writing industry. Barbara has built CPG into one of the largest and fastest-growing premier career services organizations industry-wide. She is committed to CPG’s core factors that include quality product, exceptional customer service, a successful proven process, and taking care of her people. Barbara has Co-Authored numerous books, including:
Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service
Roadmap to Becoming an Administrative Law Judge
Job-Winning Military to Civilian Resumes
Roadmap to Federal Jobs
She also co-authored the certification requirements for the Master Military Resume Writer (MMRW) and the Master Federal Career Advisor and Trainer (MFCA-T) certifications.