The Fundamentals of a Federal Resume

3 min read
a government building with flags

Job application is one of the most daunting tasks every applicant can ever imagine. Since the competition is very tough, pushing job seekers to exert more effort to be noticed most especially if it is a government post up for grabs. The process or competition starts with the preparation of a resume that will be impressive enough to merit an interview.

You must, first of all, understand that applying for a government job is not the same as seeking a position in a private company. The resume, therefore, plays a very important role; so much so that in some cases, they are even considered more important than interviews. The standard resume will have no place in a formal and sensitive task like this.  You would not want your attempts to be discarded and lose your chance even before you begin.

You will need the right kind of resume – that which will put you in the interview shortlist. To ensure that your application conforms to the government standards, here are the two pivotal elements of federal resumes:


Generally, your information should be in chronological order, such as job experiences listed from the most recent to the oldest. Follow the correct/required structure, length, and content when stating your job history. Where necessary, you should fill out and attach additional application forms asked for by the specific job post.


The content is the core of your application. Ensure that your government resume contains all the information needed by the job. Lacking or wrong papers can easily disqualify you right at the resume screening process. You will not get the chance to even see the light of an interview, much less the desk in the desired government agency.

What details, then, must a federal resume have? Go over the following:

  • Additional personal information aside from your name, address, and telephone number(s). These include social security number, country of citizenship, honorable discharge information from the military, highest federal civilian grade, and eligibility for reinstatement, if applicable.
  • Specific job/position. 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.
  • Summary of experience. 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.
  • Professional accomplishment and experiences.  This is the chronological list of all the jobs you have handled in the past 10 years. List each job, including the employer’s name in bold type, the employer’s address, your title, inclusive dates of employment, your supervisor’s name and contact number, your salary and how many hours a week you typically worked at the job. Also, include whether your former supervisors can be contacted or not.
  • Bulleted items emphasizing your professional experience and accomplishments. Every point should contain detailed information about the responsibilities and job duties of each position.
  • Educational background. Provide the names and address of the universities/colleges you have attended along with the date and title/degree(s) earned.
  • Specialized training. Separate from the education section, it includes any training received, programs completed or classes took not resulting in a college degree. These items must be presented chronologically.
  • Other merits/qualities that may distinguish you from the rest of the applicants. Incorporate additional sections for honors, awards, certifications and licenses, presentations, publications, and community service.

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.

Allan Shelton holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a regular magazine contributor on career development.