Your Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Winning Federal Resume

6 min read
United States Capitol Building

One of the most difficult jobs any applicant can face is filling out a federal job application. Because the competition is high, job seekers must put in extra effort to stand out. First, you must realize that vying for a federal job is not the same as looking for a job in a private sector.

Having that said, resumes for both sectors are important; in fact, well-written resumes can lead to an open door of opportunities. Nonetheless, the competition begins with the creation of an impressive federal resume that will earn your application a second look from the screening committees.

Difference Between Federal Resume and Civilian Resume

When applying for a federal job, forget anything you know about resume writing. When writing a traditional resume, you normally summarize your work history in a one-page document for corporate sector positions. On the other hand, a federal resume, even for an entry-level position, must be more extensive.

In addition, the document may be two to five pages or more as long as it is in line with USAjobs requirements. The reason behind long pages of federal resume is to detail your abilities. Mention and showcase your previous duties and accomplishments.

What is USAJobs?

USAJobs is a website that links job seekers with federal job openings all around the United States. USAJobs is the official employment site of the United States government, and it provides services to help the right individuals find government job application in agencies they prefer. As part of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), USAJobs assists with the recruitment, retention, and recognition of federal workforce. Moreover, USAJobs have a resume builder for applicants.

usajobs homepage where federal resume can be submitted

How to Write a Federal Resume: Examples and Templates

A comprehensive federal resume increases your chances of getting an interview at the agency of your choice. Get a hold of the information on how to write a federal resume along with sample, template, and writing advice. Land a job in the government by reading below. Bear in mind, though, that the success of landing a federal job lies with the right information. Hence, you’ll need the correct kind of resume, one that will get you on the job announcement shortlist for an interview.

Here are the two most important elements of federal resumes to ensure that your application meets government requirements:

Federal Resume Format

Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need. Read the job posting in its entirety. Pay attention to each section of job announcement, and check if you meet the requirements for the job. Also, your data should be organized chronologically, with career experiences listed from most recent to oldest.

When describing your work history, make sure to use the proper form, length, font, and content. If necessary, fill out and attach any supplementary application forms requested by the job posting.

Federal Resume Content

Government job postings can draw hundreds of applications. An HR professional who reads your federal resume provides a list of the most qualified applicants. Hiring managers have criteria in line with the job announcement to restrict the pool, and they decide on who among the candidates they would to interview by checking the applicants’ relevant skills and experience.

To rise above the competition, tailor your resume to a specific job description. This way, you’ll have a far better chance of progressing to the next level of the application process. First thing to do is focus on the job announcement’s requirements section. Moreover, include keywords and phrases that identify the position. Then, explain how you have gained the specific skills and competencies the agency is looking for in this role.

What details, then, must a federal resume have? Check out the following and make sure you got them included:

woman job seeker typing her federal resume on her laptop

1. First Page

This part should state personal information aside from your name, address, and telephone number(s). These include country of citizenship, honorable discharge information from the military, highest federal civilian grade, veterans preference, and eligibility for reinstatement, if applicable.

2. Work Experience

List specific job and position as well as hours worked per week, along with the start and end dates. Also, include your supervisor’s name and contact information, your salary and how many hours a week you typically worked at the job. Beside the supervisor’s contact number, mention whether they can be contacted or not. Aside from the desired position, other details that should appear are the job announcement number and series and grade, which are indicated in the job advertisement.

3. Summary of Skills

This is a flexible section that summarizes your career accomplishments, so use it to your advantage. Highlight your most relevant traits and skills, including how long you have been working in the field. Use the keywords found in the job posting.

4. Educational Background

Provide the names and address of the universities and colleges you have attended along with the date and title/degree(s) earned. Include details about all the schools you’ve attended as well as any related coursework you’ve accomplished. Only degrees from authorized colleges or programs that meet the requirements of the Office of Personnel Management should be listed. You must include information on appropriate coursework if you want to substitute education for experience to qualify for a job.

What to Write in a Federal Resume Objective

A professional resume summary effectively demonstrates to employers that you have the experience and skill set needed for the position. Thus, a resume summary is a one- to five-sentence introduction to your entire resume content. The objective is to focus on most relevant professional experience, skills, and accomplishments. The federal resume objective will be longer if you have career anecdotes.

Your most important professional selling points should always be included in the opening sentence of a resume summary. Those selling factors include years of relevant experience, primary tasks or achievements during those years, and highest position or target position.

Sample of Executive Core Qualifications document

How to Write Federal ECQ, TQ, and PTQ

When reviewing a stack of resumes, hiring managers will pay close attention to qualifications aligned with Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs), or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs). Through these, hiring managers can picture a person’s ability to execute a certain job. 

General tip: Read the job announcement carefully, and pay special attention to any requested extra documentation. Your document will be rejected if you fail to submit needed paperwork. To analyze the job announcement, use the same approaches mentioned earlier in this chapter and concentrate on the ECQs, TQs or KSAs. Despite having a separate document, have your duties, responsibilities, and expertise highlighted in job descriptions.

Sample of Knowledge Skills and Abilities document

How Long Should a Professional Federal Resume Be?

You’ve probably heard that your resume needs to be long if you’re looking for positions in the federal government. This is true in the sense that it will almost certainly need to be longer than a standard civilian resume. However, the length of a federal resume is influenced by a number of circumstances.

If you’re not a veteran or an executive, you might not have much to put on your resume. If you think that having a lengthy resume will get your resume on top of the pile, you’re wrong. Don’t fill your federal resume with lies and exaggerations to keep it into 3 pages. It’s important to produce quality content that highlights your qualifications for the job. Hiring managers value content above filler, so make sure that every phrase on the federal resume conveys important information. When summarizing your professional experience, use facts and numbers.

Furthermore, the quantity of experience and abilities required for a government job varies. The federal government assigns grades to its posts based on a 15-point scale. A short resume is natural for a GS-1 position that requires little training or experience. A GS-15 position that requires a lot of technical knowledge would require a considerably lengthier CV.

Sample of a 4-page federal resume

Best Federal Resume Examples

Federal agencies have extensive employment departments and can afford to check over your qualifications thoroughly. As a result, provide as much information as possible while drafting your federal resume. To have a guide, check the federal resume templates below.

Sample of a longer federal resume

These are just some of the most important points you need to keep in mind when creating a federal resume. By strictly following these guidelines, you can instantly draw an affirmative response that can earn you a spot in the shortlist or even in the agency itself.

When to Hire a Federal Resume Writing Service?

When applying for a position with the federal government, you must submit a federal resume. A federal resume is not the same as a standard resume. It’s a lot more complicated, and it often needs specific information and structure in order for it to be viewed by the correct individuals.

Federal resumes are more technical and are lengthier than resumes in the private sector. Thus, using a resume writing service for government posts will save you time. Also, they will provide quality resume. The writing services from experts is in line with job announcement number from USAJobs as compared to what you might produce on your own.

Looking for a position in the federal workforce? Hire the best federal government resume writer today! How do you know which federal resume writing service to go with for your resume? Our team have rounded up a list of government resume writing services.