TOP 6 Tips for Writing a Federal Resume

One of the most important keys to resume success is to ensure that your application is customized for the job position and company that you’re sending your application to. This particular resume writing consideration is especially relevant when you’re applying for a federal job. How to write a federal resume differs greatly from how you write a traditional resume in both content and purpose, and it pays to know what these differences are if you want to get scheduled for an interview by a federal agency.

Federal resumes are more comprehensive

While private-sector resumes are generally one to two pages long with your work experiences and skills limited only to the most relevant, you are encouraged to be as comprehensive as you can with your federal resume. You also have to be very detailed with your descriptions and provide complete information about your previous roles and responsibilities.

Federal resumes can require additional documentation

When applying for a federal job, more often than not, you’ll be required to submit additional documents to support your application, such as military service records, school transcripts, US citizenship, proof of residency, drug testing, etc. Conversely, private sector jobs do not usually need any documentation, aside from a list of references.

6 essential tips on how to write a federal resume

The differences aside, a federal resume still has a lot in common with a regular resume in the sense that it still lists your work experiences, skills, qualifications, and personal background details. Here are tips on how to write a federal resume to put yourself in a good position to get hired for federal jobs.

federal resume writing tips

1. Be honest

It can be tempting to embellish or exaggerate your accomplishments and background but don’t. Remember that it’s fairly easy for government agencies to perform background checks, thus immediately exposing any inaccuracies in your federal resume.

Even if the discrepancy is a minor one, it can be enough to jeopardize your application, as government recruiters will start to wonder what else in your resume you could be lying about. Avoid losing the chance to get hired by being completely forthcoming and accurate on your resume.

2. Spell out acronyms on first use

Generally, it is best to spell out an acronym when you first mention it in your resume followed by the abbreviated version, like these examples:

• Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

• Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

• National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

You are then free to use the abbreviation in the rest of your resume to save valuable space. That said, make sure all of the acronyms you put in your federal resume are correct. For instance, when abbreviating the Department of Homeland Security, you abbreviate it as DHS, not DOHS. Also be wary when abbreviating state names, as they can be completely different from what you expect. For instance, the abbreviation for Alaska is AK, not AL, which represents Alabama.

Any mistake in your acronyms could send the message that you didn’t do your research on government agencies. Worse, it might make recruiters think that you have a careless work ethic, which is something that you definitely don’t want to happen.

3. Be highly descriptive and detailed

You need to assume that your reader is unfamiliar with your previous industries, roles, and responsibilities, and is reading about them for the first time. This is especially important if you are coming from the private sector and shifting your career toward government work.

Make sure to mention specific duties and tasks, the projects you’ve worked on, and the software and systems that you are adept at. Remember that you don’t have to limit your federal resume to one or two pages, so feel free to elaborate on your personal background and make the information as easy to understand as possible.

4. Quantify your achievements

Numbers let recruiters and hiring managers know how effective you’ve been at your previous jobs. Help them understand your work performance better by expressing your successes in percentages, statistics, and ratios. For instance, instead of saying that you “spearheaded a massive project,” you can say something like “led a 5-man team to complete a 1-year feasibility study with a budget of USD5 million that helped the company boost its net profits by 25%.”

Here are further examples of how to quantify your achievements.

• Met and exceeded delivery targets in a span of two years, resulting in zero production downtime for the manufacturing department during the said period.

• Developed and conducted monthly skill workshops that helped improve employee productivity by 20 percent and retention by 50 percent.

• Served as point of contact for suppliers and nurtured professional relationships that helped lower price acquisition of raw materials by 10 percent.

5. Include your highest GS grade

Federal government jobs use General Schedule (GS) classification and pay system to determine the pay rate for federal employees in white-collar jobs. Established in 1949, the GS classification system is codified in law, containing 15 grades in total, and describes the employee’s job responsibilities for each grade. Each grade also contains 10 pay hierarchies that determine the amount you must earn at each level.

If you are currently employed with the federal government, it is imperative that you include your highest GS grade so the recruiter will know what level you’re at. If your previous line of work is in the private sector, this will not apply to you.

6. Mention your citizenship status

Although the federal government doesn’t require you to be an American citizen to apply for federal jobs, it will help speed up the vetting and identification process if you include your citizenship status in your government resume. Remember that the government has employees in other countries, and these may require certain citizenship statuses.

Postings for federal jobs often list the required citizenship status in the description, so always check to see if you qualify so your efforts don’t go to waste.

Other federal job resume considerations

For faster vetting and identification, federal resumes require additional info regarding your background and experience, while also calling for many of the same requirements as traditional resumes. Here’s what else to keep in mind as you develop your resume for a federal job.

• Use similar keywords as the job posting – recruiters will want to see specific terms in your resume to make sure you have the qualifications they seek.

• List your work experience in reverse chronological order – start with your latest job and work your way back.

• Organize and customize for the job – you need to tailor your government resume to make it relevant to the specific position you are applying for. Federal resume templates are a great resource for this, but be sure to only use templates for inspiration and ideas, not use them as-is.

Let Resumeble handle your federal job resume

You can stop worrying about how to write a government resume by working with one of our in-house writers here at Resumeble. We can guarantee that you will be scheduled for an interview within 60 days, or we will rewrite your resume free of charge. Send us your resume today for a free, no-obligation evaluation.

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