When it comes to writing a federal resume, it’s natural to feel a bit dazed and confused. This type of resume is among the most challenging kinds of professional documents to prepare. That’s also why federal resume writers are rare, and it’s hard to find a truly qualified one.
However, the importance of submitting the appropriate resume for your federal job search is paramount. If you don’t follow the required format, you won’t be getting an interview. If you are feeling daunted while approaching the task of writing your resume, you are not alone.
To alleviate your worries and confusion, we have brought you the top 6 tips on writing a federal resume.
When writing a federal resume, or any resume for that matter, one thing that holds the key to all the secrets of the position is the job announcement. The job announcement provides information about the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) you need for the job, as well as the duties and responsibilities you will be expected to perform.
Your resume should reflect all these aspects in your career history to show the hiring authority that you are a great fit for the job. That’s why reading the job announcement carefully, even multiple times, is essential before you begin writing your resume.
Before beginning, note all the required skills, knowledge, specialized experience, abilities, and other qualifications. While taking notes, jot down the exact words used in the job announcement. These will serve as the keywords to use on your federal resume. (We’ll talk about that more in a bit.)
After your thorough study of the job announcement, you will have a clear idea about the eligibility criteria and minimum qualifications for the job you are applying for. “This job is open to” and “Who may apply” sections of the job announcement usually contain the eligibility details, and the “Qualifications” tab holds the answers to the minimum qualifications.
Make sure that you are well-equipped to provide enough evidence that you meet the minimum qualifications in terms of years of experience, specialized experience and skills, knowledge, abilities, and other qualifications. That means the skills, experience, and education sections of your federal resume (and your KSA statements) must provide specific details showing how you fit the requirements on the job announcement.
Don’t forget to mention the dates, work hours, level of experience, and examples for each work experience you add to your resume.
Another benefit of thoroughly reading the job announcement is that you can find plenty of terrific keywords to use throughout your federal resume. As mentioned above, you have already taken notes for the important skills, experiences, and other qualifications required by using the words or phrases from the job announcement. Now, you simply need to use these words while writing your federal resume.
Regardless of whether you’re applying for a federal or corporate position, hiring authorities use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan resumes against a predetermined set of keywords and criteria. You must pass the ATS before your resume gets viewed by humans. Using keywords properly is the key to passing the ATS.
Another essential tip for your federal resume is to use data and numbers to the fullest. Some sections of the resume where can you add numbers to make it look more effective and impressive include:
Using data and numbers simply means quantifying your accomplishments and abilities. As an example, compare these two passages to see the effect of using numbers:
“Led a team of data analysts and engineers to develop a one-of-a-kind predictive analytics platform that was far superior to all the available tools in the industry.”
“Led a team of 20 data analysts and engineers to develop a one-of-a-kind predictive analytics platform that was far superior to all the available tools in the industry with 98% accuracy in detecting fraudulent behavior in insurance claims.”
Can you see how the numbers make the accomplishment palpable and easy to visualize?
A federal resume is usually a much lengthier document than a civilian resume. However, this doesn’t mean that you have the luxury to include anything and everything from your career. You still have to be selective about the skills and experiences you add to your resume.
Most federal jobs require specialized job experience or a minimum number of years at a particular kind of job to be qualified. Add as much descriptive detail as possible while writing those specialized job experiences on your resume. Write the accomplishments, duties, responsibilities, and examples of work performed.
On the other hand, if you have worked in positions that are not directly related to the job you are applying for, you can briefly mention them with a couple of paragraphs and/or bullet points. Don’t spend too much time describing previous positions that are not relevant to the position.
The Federal Self-Assessment Questionnaire is the place where many federal job seekers get stuck. Most applicants make the mistake of submitting their resumes without getting adequately prepared for the questionnaire, and many of them are not even aware of its existence. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. So, take note that the Federal Self-Assessment Questionnaire is being used more frequently in the federal hiring process.
Make yourself familiar with the questions you are likely to face while applying for a federal job. Fortunately, the job announcement will generally offer you a link to a preview of the questionnaire. It’s likely to be in the “How you will be evaluated” section under the “Requirements” tab, or it might be under the “How to apply” tab.
The questions are likely to be in a variety of formats, including multiple-choice, true/false, yes/no, and “check all that apply.” The purpose of the questionnaire is to evaluate candidates based on the qualifications required for the role. Therefore, your answers should conform to the details you provide on your resume.
In conclusion, we acknowledge that writing a federal resume is not an easy process. However, keeping the above tips in mind will make the task much more approachable. We also encourage you that it’s perfectly okay to seek professional help from federal resume writers while facing this responsibility. Professional resume writers write resumes day in day out. They know all the nitty-gritty details of the federal hiring process to better equip you for a successful job search.
Lindsay Duston is currently the Director of Executive Résumé Services at Find My Profession. She has been a certified resume writer for over 18 years. When she is not avidly writing resumes, she is spending time with her family and friends.
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