Creating a Federal Resume
When applying for a job, your resume is the primary way you communicate your experience, skills and education. How you do that will depend upon where you are looking; private sector and federal resumes differ significantly. If you plan to apply in both arenas, you will need a different marketing tool for each, and each will need to be customized to fit your target job.
Unlike corporate resumes federal resumes require that you include the specific month and year you started and left each job. They also require that you include the number of hours per week you worked in each position.
This is used to determine the amount of experience you have and where you fall in GS and other government hiring systems. You should also be prepared to include your past and present salaries. Note that this is not information that you would include on resumes prepared for the private sector.
As with all job postings, it is important to review the requirements carefully. The experience sections of your federal resume must address every required qualification in the job announcement. If the qualification section says that you need experience in “MS PowerPoint,” you must have the words “MS PowerPoint” on your resume. If the position requires experience with budgets, be sure that you include information about your budgeting experience. Hiring agencies are sticklers for details and will use their requirements as a checklist to determine if you meet the desired qualifications.
Much like corporate resumes, those written for government jobs must include specific accomplishments. This is a change so if your past resumes didn’t include them, you will need to update your marketing tool. Just as with private sector resumes, use numbers to highlight your achievements. Doing so illustrates in concrete terms what you accomplished.
Use reverse chronological order to list your experience and provide more details about past jobs that are especially relevant to the position for which you are applying. It is helpful to use short paragraphs to describe your experience. Your resume should be easy on the eyes. Before applying for a federal position, make sure you meet all the requirements or don’t bother applying. Your resume should also include your education and training credentials.
One other major difference between corporate and government resumes is their length. Hiring managers in the private sector expect a one- to two-page resume while your federal resume may be five or six pages and occasionally longer.
USAJOBS.gov is an excellent source of opportunities in the federal government. You can create a free account, build a profile, search for jobs and upload your resume. They also have a handy “create your resume” tool that walks you through the process and provides prompts to ensure your resume includes essential information. The wide range of opportunities in the federal government may surprise you. They include positions for those in the trades, social services, resource management, medical, dental and veterinary science to name just a few. Working for the federal government isn’t for everyone; however, if you think it might suit you, check out USAJOBS.gov.
©2021 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.