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Technical Solutions, Professional Staffing, Integrated Security

How Is Federal Resume Writing Different From Regular Resume Writing? 

The resume remains essential for getting noticed by companies, particularly for federal employment. Let’s look at the do's and don'ts of resume writing for federal jobs.

Federal resume writing and regular resume writing ultimately serve the same goal. Each document is designed to highlight the candidate’s tenure as a professional, list relevant skills, emphasize professional accomplishments, and outline that they are a good candidate for a role. However, federal resumes follow a more fixed format than corporate resumes. Federal job seekers need to provide more information and details than a standard resume. While non-federal resumes are typically two pages, federal resumes are much longer. Typically federal resumes range from four to six pages or more. In addition to information about your role and what you accomplished, federal resumes have you disclose specific information such as citizenship and veteran status. Additionally, federal resume writing requires you to list professional experience in a very specific way to be as accurate as possible.

The Structure of Federal Resume Writing

Before covering the dos and don’ts of resume writing for federal jobs, it’s important to grasp the basic structure of federal resumes. While all resumes can seem rather formulaic in structure, federal resumes are much more formatted. This can even give the sense that these resumes are overly detailed and even repetitive. However, this shows the agency you are applying to the precise length and depth of your work.
Here are some things you’ll need to incorporate into your federal resume. Beginning on the introductory page you’ll include:
  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Citizenship status
  • Highest GS grade
  • Veterans’ preference
  • Current security clearance

You’ll also want to incorporate at least your name and contact info into a header throughout your resume. Additionally, you’ll need to write a professional summary at the top of the document. This can be written very similarly to that of a regular resume, but geared to the specific job and agency.
The body of the resume will focus on your actual job experience, including the responsibilities and any relevant accomplishments. For EACH job, you should have the following headings and details:
  • Employer’s name
  • Employer’s location
  • Supervisor’s name
  • Supervisor’s contact information
  • Job title
  • Start and end date
  • Average number of hours worked per week
  • Daily responsibilities
  • Accomplishments and milestones
  • Awards or special recognition

Different resume writing companies or even the federal agency you’re applying to may have their own requirements for resume formatting, so be sure to check before writing this section. Then, similar to the standard resume, you’ll want to add details on education and technical skills. For education, use these headings to organize your details.
  • School/university
  • Years attended
  • Degree
  • GPA
  • Number of credit hours earned
  • Awards or recognitions and honors
  • Professional or academic membership
  • Relevant materials like coursework or publications

Naturally, it’s also important to highlight technical skills. Here are some additional headings and sections you need for federal resume writing.
  • Technical skills, or technology
  • Certifications or relevant training
  • Volunteering experience
  • Languages
  • References

Again the precise order and sections can vary between agencies or depending on who you ask. You must investigate on your own. In general, the above sections are what are expected on all federal resumes. Remember, our team Ross Professional Services, LLC can help you with your resume and federal job search as well.

The Do's and Don't of Resume Writing for Federal Jobs

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.

Ross Professional Services LLC Can Help

Resumes do not guarantee you a job. But they do give you the opportunity to get noticed and immediately present yourself as an experienced, viable candidate. The resume is your summarized career and professional profile on a sheet of paper, so you want to take your time, be patient, and attune your resume to the job(s) you’re most interested in. However, you don’t have to do it alone.

In addition to helping you with your resume, Ross Professional Services LLC is a leading contractor specializing in filling employment positions within government agencies. Our main clients include federal government agencies – DOD, DOJ, Navy, VA, GSA, National Park Service, and many others. If you’re interested in looking at available federal jobs now, be sure to contact us or search our job openings to get started.

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