Federal jobs are highly desired because they offer greater job security, competitive pay and benefits, and a pay and promotion structure that gives you clear paths for advancement and professional development.
If this is your first time applying for a federal job, you may find the process intimidating at first. The information you will need to provide goes into detail well beyond your traditional resume.
What is the difference between a traditional resume and a federal resume?
Your traditional resume, for example, will generally be 1-2 pages. Your federal resume will be anywhere from 2-5 pages. This is because the federal resume requires much more detail about your qualifications and past work experience.
Note: Some positions do have requirements beyond your resume. You may have to complete additional questionnaires related to the specifics of the position. Make sure you read the job posting carefully to ensure that you complete the entire application process successfully.
Critical Elements of Your Federal Resume
USAJOBS offers a Resume Builder to help you create your federal resume. It will walk you through every step of the process, ensuring that your information is complete. You can also use the Resume Builder to create multiple resumes to highlight different aspects of your work experience or to target certain positions. In addition, you can create a master resume that is searchable so hiring specialists can find you.
1. Personal Information
As with all resumes, you will include your name, address, and phone numbers. Federal resumes must also include vital information such as birthdate and citizenship status. You will be asked questions to assess your eligibility for a federal job and to determine if you qualify for veterans’ preference.
Federal applicants are reviewed for suitability based on a point system. Veterans’ preference can award either 5 or 10 additional points, depending on the classification. Purple Heart recipients, for example, are awarded 10 additional points, and U.S. veterans of any war are awarded 5 points. There are other qualifiers as well, so be sure to carefully complete this section.
2. Relevant Work Experience
The Resume Builder will then walk you through the last ten years of your work experience. For many, finding the necessary information on start and end dates and other details may be challenging, so gather this information before you begin.
You will be asked to list the following for each position you have held in the past ten years:
- Position Title
- Start/End Date
- Hours Worked Per Week
Highlight the aspects of your work experience that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. That way, even if you have not held a similarly-titled position in the past, you can demonstrate that you have developed the necessary skills through the other work you have done.
3. Educational Background
You will also be asked to provide detailed information about your educational background. Carefully list every school you have intended, as well as the degrees or certifications earned. You are not required to provide information about your GPA or test scores, but if you feel that they will help, you may include them.
You may have noticed that many federal jobs will accept a mix of education and experience to reach certain pay grades. Be sure to specifically highlight your most relevant coursework and only list degrees you have earned from accredited schools recognized by the Office of Personnel Management.
Provide as much detail here as you can, highlighting important achievements, honors, experiences, presentations and extracurricular activities that may be relevant to the position.
To give yourself the greatest chance of success with your application for a federal job, you must include detailed information about yourself, your work experience and your educational background.
Carefully analyze the job description so you can highlight the skills and qualities you can bring to the position. Don’t expect the hiring specialist to read between the lines. Be very clear about what makes you the right candidate for the job.
Also, understand that some applications are not even seen by a hiring specialist until they have passed through a pre-screening process that designates applicants as either not qualified, minimally qualified, or highly qualified. That means that if you haven’t put your best foot forward on your application, you may never even get the chance to interview. Take the time to do it right the first time.
If you need help writing a top notch federal resume, we can help.