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Government Resumes 101 – A Complete Guide To Drafting Resumes For Federal Jobs

USAJobs is the go-to federal platform if you’re looking for a federal job. USAJobs features the vast majority of open positions advertised by government organizations.USAJobs advertisements are more detailed than corporate job ads, which can be intimidating for someone looking for their first government job.

After reading the posting, you may feel confident in your qualifications but wonder how you might use your unique background for a government position. Do not make the fatal error of submitting and submitting with a résumé that you have previously used to apply for jobs in the private sector.

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The first thing you need to know is that applying for a government job differs from a position in the private sector. Applicants must put in additional work to distinguish themselves from the many other candidates in today’s competitive labor market. However, resumes are still crucial in both industries; in reality, a well-written resume can open up a world of possibilities.

But the race starts with crafting a federal resume that stands out from the crowd and gets your application through the initial review stages.

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What’s The Difference Between A Government Resume And A Standard Resume?

You can throw out all you learned about resume writing and start from scratch when applying for employment in the federal government. When applying for jobs in the corporate world, the standard resume is a one-page summary of your professional experience. However, a federal resume, regardless of an entry-level job, needs to be more detailed.

Moreover, the document’s length is unconstrained, provided that it falls within the USAjobs page limits of 2 to 5 pages. The federal resume is sometimes quite lengthy because it is intended to detail the applicant’s abilities. Highlight your previous roles and the results you achieved.


6 Tips For Writing A Federal Resume

1.Avoid Using A Template

Don’t choose a fancy resume template just because you believe it will assist you in getting a federal job. You should know who will be reading your resume and what role it will play in the process. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are not something you’ll have to deal with when applying for federal or state government jobs through USAJobs.

Instead, a Human Resources expert (yes, a real live person!) will score your application on a scale of zero to one hundred. Your resume format should make it easy for Human Resources experts to assess whether or not you have the necessary specific expertise, knowledge, skills, talents, and capabilities, as well as to evaluate your level of expertise in each. Using a template created for really minimal material can slow you down.

If you’re applying for a job with the federal government, don’t take any risks by using a readymade resume template or fancy graphics to jazz up your application.

2. Utilize The USAjobs Built-in Profile Builder Tool

To get started, use the USAJobs Profile Builder, as state and federal government resumes have specific compliance requirements for the last decade of work experience that a standard resume won’t include.

The average number of hours you served and the email address or phone number of your managers at each of your previous jobs are examples of the information required by law to be disclosed here. Your application can be marked “incomplete” if you don’t provide all the required information.

Use the USAJobs Profile Builder as a starting point if you are unsure about what information should go into your federal resume. However, you should never submit a resume created through the USAJobs Profile Builder. The font size used by the Profile Builder is impossible to read. Alternatively, save the resume you made using the Profile Builder as a Microsoft Word document and restructure it such that the font size is readable.

In addition, the Profile Builder only lets you use 2,000 characters per employment description, which isn’t a significant amount of space. As a result, it’s best to download the file and edit it using Microsoft Word to ensure you include all of the information required to help you stand out.

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3. Pay Close Attention To The Job Description Before Creating Your Federal Resume

There is no ambiguity about what must be included in your government resume to meet the “Minimum Qualified” criteria, as they are clearly stated in the job posting. Pay special emphasis to the Qualifications and how you’ll be assessed areas under Requirements on USAJobs advertisements.

These will detail the necessary academic prerequisites, KSAs, and competencies and the types of specific experience you should mention in your resume. Keep track by clipping and pasting the position’s wording used in the posting.

Using a checklist can help you stay organized while you write and provide direction as you figure out how to best convey your varied experiences outside of government jobs on your federal resume. The Application Questionnaire has more concrete examples to assist you in proving that you are “Minimally Qualified.”

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4. Use Keywords To Organize Your Experience

Suppose you want to be considered “Minimally Qualified” for a state or federal government position. In that case, your resume must demonstrate that you possess the requisite specialized Expertise, KSAs, and Skills specified in the Application Questionnaire and the job posting. By organizing your experience utilizing the keywords from the posting, you can make it very simple for an HR professional to cross them off their “list of requirements.”

Write brief paragraphs that start with every keyword you’ve chosen to discuss in greater detail how you’ve exhibited that expertise or KSA for each position you’ve held, rather than utilizing bullet lists to structure your experience in easy words.

Don’t forget to provide additional context to support your claim of expertise. Using this technique, your government resume will be detailed enough to be considered “Best Qualified” while being easy to read for a human reader.

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5. Utilize Stories To Display Achievement

Highlight your key skills and abilities, areas of expertise, and other relevant experience by writing illustrative examples of how you exceeded targets and made significant contributions to previous companies. If possible, try to put a quantity on your accomplishments, as employers (particularly federal ones) prioritize such details.

If you’re having trouble placing your narrative in context, consider emphasizing the number of people engaged or affected, the amount of time that has passed, or any comparisons that have been made.

Instead of simply listing your accomplishments, elaborate by telling tales demonstrating your contributions, the importance of your work, and the difficulties you faced. These anecdotes distinguish the “best qualified” candidates from the “minimally qualified” candidates.

6. Use A Brief But Engaging Statement

In contrast to a commercial resume, your federal resume should skip the skill and summary sections and go straight to the Experience and Education portion to show that you meet the “Minimum Qualified” criteria.

Your federal resume’s first page, especially the first third, can still set you apart from the competition. Just below your contact details, you should mention the job title, GS pay scale, and exact advertisement number for the job you’re applying for.

Then, include a succinct Branding Statement (no longer than a sentence) that demonstrates how well you grasp the ministry’s objective and how you will be able to fulfill or surpass the goals of the position for which you are applying. You can grab an HR expert’s attention and maintain their attention by emphasizing the value you bring to the table.

Your government resume should include an extra skills paragraph towards the end if any skills are listed as required or useful that are not reflected in the references you provided in the Experience section. Including them with relevant details about your job experience and achievements is preferable, but including them at the conclusion is better than leaving them out entirely.

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How Long Is A Federal Resume?

You have probably been told that a lengthy résumé is required when applying for jobs in the federal office. This is accurate because it will always need to be more detailed than a typical civilian resume. However, many factors determine how long a federal resume should be.

Long resumes don’t necessarily get you noticed more than shorter ones. Do not exaggerate or mislead on your resume so that it fits inside the federal government’s three-page limit. It’s crucial to provide excellent content that emphasizes your skills and experience.

The content of your federal resume is more significant than how many words there are, so use them wisely. Provide concrete examples and data to support your professional background claims.

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Furthermore, the government sector requires a wide range of expertise and skill levels from its employees. Positions in the federal government are evaluated using a 15-point scale. A GS-1 post typically requires minimal work experience and education, thus, a brief résumé is appropriate. If you’re applying for a GS-15 post that demands extensive technical knowledge, your resume will need to reflect that.

What To Include In A Federal Resume?

Hundreds of people may apply to a single government job posting. A federal resume reader compiles a shortlist of the most suitable candidates. Managers narrow the field of applications by using criteria consistent with the job description and then pick which individuals to interview based on a review of their resumes and past work history.

Personalizing your resume to each job posting is a certain way to be noticed. As a result, your chances of moving on to the next round of the application procedure will increase significantly. So, what information is required for a federal resume? Let’s find out.

1. Educational Background

Include all of the schools you’ve attended, together with the dates you started going and any relevant titles or degrees you may have received. Make sure to list all the institutions you’ve attended and the courses you’ve taken that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Only degrees from approved schools or institutions that meet the standards set by the Office of Personnel Management must be included.

2. Skill’s Summary

Make the most of this customizable space to highlight your most significant professional achievements. In your resume, be sure to emphasize your most valuable qualifications and experience. Look at the job posting and use the language and terminology used there.

3. Work Experience

Provide the company name, position held, beginning and ending dates, as well as the number of hours worked each week. Not only should you list your income and the number of hours you put in each week, but also your manager’s name and contact details.

Also, indicate whether or not your manager can be reached at the phone number provided. The job announcement number, category, and grade must also be included, as well as the post for which you are applying.

4. First Page

In this section, other than your name, address, and contact details, you should provide any other pertinent personal information. They are one’s country of origin, details about one’s military service and discharge, one’s highest attainable grade in the federal government, whether or not one is eligible for veterans’ preference, and whether or not one is eligible for reinstatement.

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If you or someone you know is applying for a federal job and needs help with their application, then The Resume Store is the best option for them. We are one of the leading providers of federal resume writing service. Whether you’re looking for professional resume writing services, government resume writing services, or LinkedIn profile writing services, we do it all. Contact us to learn more about us.