If you’re seeking to enter the federal service or want to obtain a promotion in the public sector, you need to prepare a properly written federal resume. This one is different from what you submit to land a job in any other areas. To have more chances of being hired, you should provide a very detailed description of your previous responsibilities and posts. At this point, federal resumes submitted even for entry-level vacancies are usually much more precise than the regular ones.
A federal resume example is typically a 3–5-page document, and its volume depends on the amount of applicable information available at the time of writing.
A federal resume differs from a regular one in terms of volume, content, and purpose. Like any other resume, a federal one is an absolute must during the first stage of the hiring process. Its primary goal is to demonstrate that the candidate is qualified enough to hold the position they are applying for.
Regardless of whether you are a civil employee or have never worked in the public segment, a federal-level resume gives you an opportunity to present yourself as a perfect candidate for the vacancy.
You might have heard about various online services that can give you a hand with compiling a federal resume. If you decide to entrust them with this task, you could increase your chances of getting a positive result. I usually use these online platforms when I need to proofread or edit my paper.
However, if you feel you are up to the task, you should compose a federal-level resume yourself. You probably have a regular resume which you already submitted when applying for other positions. Use it as a basis and be ready to modify it in accordance with the federal standards by following a Federal resume template.
But, how does one come up with an excellent federal resume? Follow these resume tips.
1. Read the Requirements Carefully
Read the job description attentively to see whether you fit the indicated requirements. Pay special attention to the deadlines for submission and the keywords. Those will definitely come in handy — using relevant vocabulary when writing is another reason for HR to be interested in your resume and think that you are competent in the area.
A federal resume is to comply with the recruitment standards of a particular state. Any job application you submit takes a while to process, so keep that in mind while working on yours.
Another important thing is that your resume will be processed, not by a computer, but a Federal HR specialist. Their task is to comply with numerous rules, laws, and regulations. When writing your resume, remember that the HR doesn’t know what you do for a living, so be precise, informative, and make your application adequate.
2. Maintain the Structure
A federal resume has a specific structure, and if you want to be noticed and present yourself as a diligent worker, start from meeting the requirements of a Federal resume template. Here are the key features you have to keep in mind:
- Each of your previous posts should be formatted on a separate sheet of paper.
- Maintain reverse chronological order (from the last position to the first one).
- Use an outline format to make text readable and provide logical sections.
That also resonates good with the idea that a new job is like a clean start, a new stage of your life.
Among the top resume tips is; make your resume readable, avoid bullet lists, and make sure your text isn’t a never-ending train of sentences. Such formatting makes it hard to find the relevant skills you have, and text blocks don’t prioritize anything. Here, the best strategy would be to divide the writing into logical paragraphs.
3. Specify All Your Previous Jobs
As it was said, in federal resumes, you shouldn’t mix all the experiences, but describe each of them in detail on separate sheets of paper. Here are the elements you have to include while writing about your previous position:
- Name of the organization
- Your post
- Period of work
- Salary (isn’t required but recommended)
To make the process logical and convenient, you can use one of the following methods:
- The 5–7 “hats” you wore at a job
- The Context-Challenge-Action-Result (CCAR) strategy
After indicating the basics, it’s time to tell about you as a qualified and competent employee. If you’re using the “hats” method, list your duties (the hats) and describe them precisely with an indication of all the responsibilities you’ve had. For example, if you have worked as an HR, some of your “hats” might be:
- Relationship building
- Change management
Each of those points can be the start of a new paragraph where you tell more about the projects you worked on, the software you used, the skills you applied, etc.
If using the CCAR strategy, your task is to highlight four main aspects of the job that will show your strengths, experience, and skills. They are:
- Context — your role in the company. Describe your position and responsibilities.
- Challenge — specific problems you faced. Indicate important issues you tackled.
- Action — what did you do to make a difference? Tell more about your accomplishments.
- Result — what difference did you make? Analyze how you helped the company’s organization and development.
Here, you tell a personal story about your accomplishments, but you should do it in a way that is appropriate for federal resume writing.
4. Be Precise and Laconic
Being brief is essential. The recruitment officer reading your resume may not know the specific terminology used in your resume. Therefore, you should be really careful about using abbreviations and other specific terms. Make sure all of them are understandable and provide an explanation where necessary.
Emphasize your strong points. When doing so, use vocabulary that will strengthen your responsibility and importance as a worker. At the same time, it’s better to make your resume softer and avoid passive voice. Here are the words that can lower the quality of your job application:
- Responsible for
- Participate in
- Serve as
- Involved in, etc.
Instead, prefer powerful words that can convey your intentions better:
- Persuasion — coach, galvanize, inspire, lobby.
- Quality — excellent, outstanding, special, great.
- Success — accomplish, achieve, sustain, succeed.
- Leadership — administer, control, run, direct.
Try to use plain language.
Customize your document to prove that you’re suitably qualified for this particular vacancy. That way, your application will have a better chance of making it past the shortlisting stage. Your federal resume should not only indicate your qualifications for the job but also provide proof of that.
Here is where keywords from the announcement play a crucial role. You may copy and paste them into your Federal resume example (make it appropriate for the context) to show that you are exactly the person the employer is looking for. Also, you can highlight those words or write them in bold to create the “attention anchors.” If the filling of your text matches the vacancy, the resume will get much more attention.
5. What Details are Worth Including?
Don’t include any details about your marital and health status, religious affiliation, social security number, and so on. State your personal data, e.g., your full name, address, citizenship, phone number, email, and social networks you use regularly.
You should also indicate whether you are eligible for any veteran privileges if you were on active military service.
A federal resume is not creative writing, but a word engineering. Here, you consider how to incorporate relevant words so that your text represent you as a qualified candidate. At the same time, it’s not about just keywords — apart from those and the list of your skills and abilities, there should be logic and coherence. Even if we say that you have to make your accomplishments and experience tell a story about you, it shouldn’t be a novel with metaphors and praises.
6. Provide Recommendations
Add professional or personal recommendations that can support your credentials. These people may be your former bosses, teachers, or even colleagues — just make sure they are willing to help you. It can increase the trustworthiness of your application. Don’t forget to indicate the nature of your relationship with these people and provide their contact info.
7. Revision is a Must
Lastly, revise and proofread your resume after you’re done writing it. Hiring agencies usually get hundreds of different applications. HR officers quickly review resumes and dismiss those who don’t meet the requirements. Hence, you should ensure that your resume can make the hiring staff read it and conclude that you are one of the best candidates. Check the final version for spelling and grammar mistakes or have somebody review it for you (like a special service).
8. The Questionnaire
On those platforms where you can apply for federal jobs, there is a special questionnaire you have to answer to submit your application. For example, on USAJOBS, you have to answer several questions before sending your resume. Usually, there are options from A to E, and that may look the following way:
Have you ever performed this type of job?
- Never have performed such a job before.
- Have watched someone performing that job.
- Have performed this type of job under close supervision.
- Have frequently performed this type of job.
- Have successfully performed this type of job and related tasks.
As you can see, option “E” is the most confident one — if you choose it, you claim that you are a competent worker. And, here is a trick: If you have to deal with such questionnaires, give yourself as much credit as you can. The thing is that if you have less than 85% of such “E-answers,” there is a high probability that your resume won’t even be considered. They won’t even open it! So, be attentive and believe in yourself.
As you can see, a federal resume is not something where you can cut some corners. So, be attentive, follow our writing tips, begin with a Federal resume template and don’t forget to proofread it before applying.