Writing a Federal Resume

how to write a federal resume

Are you a veteran looking for employment within the U.S. Government? If so, please keep in mind that a traditional resume will not suffice. In order to apply for jobs with the government, you need a federal resume that will bring your achievements to life.

This type of resume is very similar to creating a military to civilian resume. Granted, writing a federal resume presents its challenges. But with help from Empire Resume, you’ll turn those challenges into professional opportunities.

What is a Federal Resume?

A federal resume, often referred to as a government resume, is a key document in the job application process.

Much like a military to civilian resume, the federal resume is a marketing tool to get your foot in the door and obtain an interview with the hiring authority.

The federal resume tells the story of your professional journey story in greater detail. However, its primary objective is to show that you’re qualified.

A well-written federal resume can position you to be a marketable candidate during your governmental job search.

Since the federal resume is thorough, you may think it needs to contain a significant number of pages in opposed to a regular, private sector resume.

But federal resumes are no longer required to be as long as you think.

Lengthy Government Resumes Are Outdated

Throughout my career as a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I’ve worked with numerous clients who had friends tell them that they need a long resume to apply for federal employment.

This is a myth.

Additionally, my clients’ have been told to be sure to match the keywords in the job description with their resume or it won’t be seen.

This is another myth.

Hiring managers have caught on to this “keyword stuffing” and now expect a professional, customized resume that clearly showcases your value.

Resumes (including federal resumes) have undergone significant changes over the past decade. Back then, federal applications required a five to ten-page resume filled with drawn-out, copied and pasted descriptions, words, and phrases.

These descriptions, words, and phrases were attempts for the documents to be noticed by the applicant tracking systems, which oftentimes failed.

Federal resumes have moved away from the five plus page documents filled with job descriptions and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).

In 2020, federal employment applications are expected to be accompanied by a two-page document consisting of the main keywords from the KSAs and job descriptions that shows how you’ve performed within these skills.

Bottom line – the resumes of the 21st century are expected to be a maximum of two pages. The only exceptions are academic curriculum vitaes (CVs), and the very rare case where federal hiring managers want lengthy details of the candidate’s:

  • Position
  • Salary
  • Hours worked
  • Supervisors’ name
  • Supervisors’ number

Just because you have two pages to fill with your professional expertise, does not mean that you get to ramble.

It is important to provide the hiring manager with clarity. Remember, your resume must be clear and concise since the average hiring manager spends less than 10-seconds reviewing it and doesn’t want to read job descriptions.

Now, you should have a clear understanding of what a federal resume is and the expectations surrounding page length. Next, we’ll discuss what to include in your federal resume.

What to Include In Your Federal Resume

how to write a federal resume

Before you think about what to include in your federal resume, ensure you’ve compiled all necessary items.

This includes your military performance evaluations, awards, educational diplomas or degrees, and certificates.

Then, you want to determine your resume format. Majority of our clients use the reverse chronological format.

This means that the most recent experience will be listed in the resume first, and then you’ll work your way backwards.

For more information on how to determine the best format for you, please take some time to review the article, Which Resume Format Should I Use.

Here’s what to include in your government resume:

  • Personal or Contact Information
  • Summary of Skills and Achievements
  • Job Titles, including Rank
  • Start Dates and End Dates
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Additional Qualifications (Certifications, or Volunteer Work)

According to USA Jobs, it’s important to use numbers to highlight your accomplishments. You should use concrete examples with dollar figures or percentages to show your performance.

For example, a proper accomplishment would read “Identified trends that reduced inventory shrinkage more than $50,000+ over a two-year period.”

Please leave out sensitive information such as your social security number, photos, or personal information like your religious affiliation, age, and gender.

Be Sure to Meet All Job Qualifications

When applying for federal roles, you’ll need to ensure that you meet all the qualifications and eligibility requirements for the position, which a well crafted master resume should already include with quantifiable data to highlight your accomplishments. You should actually have the required experience and education required before you apply versus just including the keywords from the job description in the resume to try and trick the applicant tracking system.

You can also attach additional documents that replies to all the qualifications specific to each role that may not be listed in your resume. 

These eligibility requirements are necessary to address; otherwise, your resume will automatically be disqualified.

Finally, some roles may ask that you specify your hours worked, level of experience, and salary. 

How to Build Your Resume

There are three options to building your resume. First, you can use the USA Jobs Online Resume Builder to take the do-it-yourself route.

Second, you can work with a professional resume writer. Last, but not least, you can use the expertise of a professional writing services company.

Even though you’re applying for a federal job, you may still need to translate your military skills to civilian terms. Depending on the governmental agency and your jobs in the military, some of those skills may apply.

At Empire Resume, we can help you determine which of your military knowledge (if you’re a veteran) will apply and work with you to translate it to civilian speak.

Just remember, taking the DIY route, you will walk the road of figuring out how to build the federal resume on your own.

Make sure you refer to The Federal Resume Guide from the National Archives and Records Administration for helpful tips.

Empire Resume Writes Federal Resumes for Veterans

how to write a federal resume

Our team of qualified military resume writers understand that writing a federal resume can take time and a level of patience that most veterans simply do not have.

That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve helped thousands of veterans and civilians land the job they deserve.

Contact Empire Resume at 801-690-4085 to hire a top-notch resume writer to get results during your job search, guaranteed!

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

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