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Top 5 Tips for Streamlining the Federal Resume Process

Take the stress away from writing federal resumes and submitting federal resume packages. Follow Diane’s Top Five Tips for streamlining the federal resume writing process. Read more…

By Diane Hudson Burns

1. Analyze federal vacancy announcements: Thoroughly analyze federal vacancy announcements to 1. Determine if you qualify for the job; 2. Identify the type of resume you need to write (i.e., Federal resume/text-file for use at USAJOBS.OPM.GOV, hard copy presentation resume, Resumix for Army CPOL builder, other); 3. Determine if you need to write Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities essays to accompany the federal resume; 4. Determine if you need to submit any additional documentation with the resume.

2. Add Federal Resume Elements: A federal resume requires elements that are not usually required on a typical 2-page industry resume. Gather the federal elements and maintain a file of information for use with future federal applications. Federal elements will include your social security number, the supervisors’ names and phone numbers for your previous employments, 3 reference names and contact information, salary history, volunteer work, awards, presentations, languages, clearances; requirements for education: dates of attendance and completion, GPA, # of credit hours; military service completion dates; federal status; and other requirements. (Do not forget to have copies of transcripts, a DD-214, SF-50, SF-15, and OF-306 for the actual submission process.)

3. Identify and integrate keywords using mini-detailed stories: Identify all of the keywords in a federal vacancy announcement that relate to the federal career field for which you are applying (e.g., if you are a business manager and a scientist, and you are applying for a job in the medical or scientific field, then only focus the resume to the scientific profession; use only very short entries for business jobs). Incorporate the keywords throughout the text in the resume, mirroring the federal wording, within your own accomplishments, creating mini-stories using many details including context and results. Federal resumes are much longer than industry resumes.

4. Separate duties and accomplishments: Create short paragraphs for a summary of duties, using overview statements, i.e., Supervised 10 personnel; managed a $1 million budget; accounted for $5 million worth of equipment. However, also include the “underlying" responsibilities, e.g., trained personnel, wrote performance ratings, and issued rewards (focusing on keywords/skills sets/competencies identified in the announcement). Then, prepare a list of specific accomplishments related to the announcement for each job.

5. Write the federal resume for two audiences: The federal resume may be read by a computer, a human, or both. Consequently, it needs to be written with plenty of keywords for the computer. Use CAPS for enhancement with Text-file or Resumix resumes, to lead into paragraphs, using keywords identified in the announcements. The CAPPED keywords are picked up by the computer, and also help the human read quickly and move through the resume. If submitting a hard copy resume, use bold and short bullets to help the HR specialist.