Creating A Competitive Federal Job Resume: 8 Tips

Federal jobs are among the most coveted there are in the United States, and with thousands of new jobs posted every day, there is no shortage of good government job opportunities. The United States government employs an estimated 4.3 million employees in its workforce, according to reports from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It employs workers in diverse fields, including finance, technology, engineering, human resources, business and industry, science, cyber security, medicine, mathematics, and the social sciences.

If you’re applying for a federal job, you will need a resume that is markedly different from a regular one. There are strict rules and regulations for the resume that you need to follow. To help you design a competitive federal job resume, we created this useful guide.

Review the Job Listing

The first thing you want to do is to scour through the federal job listings posted on Go through the entirety of the vacancy announcement to figure out whether you’re qualified and suited for a particular position. Bear in mind that every announcement features a similar layout but different requirements. It can be quite easy to use a cookie-cutter approach when applying for multiple positions, but it won’t get you very far. A good way to help you develop specialized resumes for each position is to print copies of each job listing to use as references when preparing your portfolio and writing your resume.

Compile Useful Information

Federal resumes tend to require a lot more information than resumes used in the private sector. A typical federal USAJOBS resume requires you to use up to 5,000 characters to describe relevant experience, accomplishments, and skills for each of the previous six positions you held. Typically, you only describe the past 10 years of employment, unless it is relevant to go further, in terms of highlighting experience.

Optimize with Keywords

Make sure that the content used to describe each job experience uses relevant keywords, specialized experience, and core competencies for a particular job vacancy announcement. While it is crucial to be as detailed as possible, it is also important that you be specific. Stand out from the mountain heap of applications by detailing direct experience that fits the particular job’s requirements in a word-for-word fashion.

Organize Your Resume

It is always a useful tip to plan things out a little before you start writing. Before you set out to write your resume, make sure to create a rough outline to help you organize things. An outline will allow you to compile relevant experiences for a particular job vacancy. Make sure to arrange them in reverse chronological order so that your most recent experiences are listed first and the earliest ones last. Keep returning to the outline as you write and scour through job vacancy announcements so that you can update it with experiences that come to mind.

Use Numbers to Highlight Your Accomplishments

Numbers are extremely effective when communicating the breadth of one’s accomplishments. Hence, when you list your accomplishments down on the job application, make sure to use dollar amounts, percentages, and numbers. Numbers can be highly powerful and persuasive because it makes it easier to understand the measure and scope of your success. It removes abstractions.

Education and Additional Experience

It is crucial to list down all your main undergraduate courses and main graduate courses if the vacancy requires a certain number of credit hours. You will also need to list down the total number of credit hours, the cities and states in which you were educated, as well as all graduation dates.

The federal USAJOBS resume also has a section for additional experience where you can use up to 20,000 characters to list an additional job, accomplishments, volunteer experience, publications, etc.

Attaching the Relevant Ancillary Information

It’s crucial to comb over every federal job vacancy announcement and their requirements carefully to know whether you’re required to submit your DD-214, college transcripts, and SF-50 documents along with the resume.

Get a Hold of References Before Submission

You’re allowed to include up to five references in your USAJOBS job application. Using references will go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd, so make sure to use them to your advantage. Contact them beforehand and discuss past projects with them and how said projects relate to your job application. Make sure to jog their memory enough so that they are able to provide precise and honest information about your experience, skills, work ethic, and character.

With over 45 years of experience in helping candidates prepare for the Suffolk Police test, NYS Court Officer, NYC Firefighter, and NYC Sanitation Worker exams, we are one of the leading civil service schools in New York State. Get in touch with us today for more information.


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