While everyone’s resume is a unique, personal document, there are definitely some guidelines you should follow. There are things you definitely want to do when writing a resume, particularly a federal resume, to increase how you stand out to employers. And, as expected, there are missteps in federal resume writing that can turn employers off. Here are some dos and don’ts.
Do: Tailor your resume to the precise job.
Having your basic resume is a good starting point, but just as no two jobs are the same, neither should your resume. You should practice tailoring your federal resume writing to more effectively speak to the precise needs and requirements of the job as much as possible. If you have done something relative to the job description in your past, try to modify your language to communicate your accomplishments as close to the job description as possible. You’ll find keywords throughout the job description like skills and functions that you’ll want to incorporate into your writing as much as possible.
Don’t: Use just any resume.
Generic resumes seldom win jobs. Employers, especially federal employers are looking for specific candidates that align with what they are looking for. Take the time to make your resume show that your background matches up with the job you want.
Do: Lead with accomplishments.
It’s one thing to say what you did in a job, it’s another thing to communicate the value you brought to a company in your role. Besides describing your tasks, try to give an indication of the benefits your work had. Did you streamline key functions? Did you increase productivity or sales? Did you successfully implement a new process? Lead with accomplishments that encapsulate your drive and effectiveness at work.
Don’t: Be vague.
You want to be clear and direct with your federal resume writing, you should be clear in what exactly you did and accomplished. If you did a task, try to encapsulate why it was important and what you brought to the task to affect the greater picture. Every job and function has a purpose, make sure you show it. Don’t just state a task and leave it.
Do: Use numbers and data.
Numbers often stand out in resumes. If you can quantify your accomplishments with numbers, do it. This shows both your effectiveness and your attention to details. Examples can include: improved the onboarding process by 70%, increased conversion rates by 25%.
Don’t: Over exaggerate your abilities or be too verbose.
While you do want to specify your accomplishments and the importance of your task, it should not come off as hubris. Try to explain your tasks and accomplishments directly and as concisely as possible. If you are using more than two lines to describe an accomplishment, try condensing it. The goal is to catalog your accomplishments, not give a dissertation on them.
Do: Use engaging language.
While you don’t need to use fancy language, you should write your federal resume in a way that conveys that you were active in your roles. At the same time, it’s important to avoid repetitive phrasing; this can come off as lazy or unengaged by employers. Instead, your resume writing should vary your word choices to really highlight the depth of your work. To help, check out this useful article: 185+ Action Verbs That Will Majorly Impress Hiring Managers
Don’t: Not review and proofread your resume.
It’s pretty obvious, but you should always review your resume for errors, mistakes, and inconsistencies before submission. Nothing stands out on a professional document like a misspelling or a typo. What’s more, you should also take time to review that you have tailored your resume to the job and really assess how your past employment has prepared you for the new job. This will also help you prepare for interviews.