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  3. The complete guide on how to write a federal resume (with examples)
The complete guide on how to write a federal resume (with examples)

The complete guide on how to write a federal resume (with examples)

Artwork by: Nelly Borisova

  • How to write a federal resume
  • Align your qualifications with job requirements
  • Quantify your achievements
  • What should you include in a federal resume?
  • How long should a federal resume be?
  • How should I format a federal resume?
  • Key takeaways

Seeking a role with a federal government agency? Not sure how to maneuver the intricate application process? Dive into our comprehensive guide, complete with insightful examples, on crafting an effective federal resume.

If you’re applying for a position with a government agency, you’ll probably notice right away that the federal application process is more stringent and formal than the private sector jobs you’ve applied for in the past.

As the single largest employer in the U.S. economy, the federal government has very specific requirements for its application process. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of this procedure, it can quickly become confusing and overwhelming.

So how do you write a federal resume that will move you forward in the application process? Read on as we answer these questions about writing a federal resume:

  • How do you write a federal resume?

  • What should you put on a federal resume?

  • How long should a resume be for a federal job?

  • What is the format for a federal resume?

How to write a federal resume

Although most of the traditional methods of resume writing translate to the federal world, there are a few important factors to consider when creating a federal resume. Before you start the writing process, make sure you read the job announcement carefully and follow all directions explicitly. 

Be sure to study the job announcement and jot down the specific parts of your work history that match the qualifications listed. The usajobs.gov website provides guidelines you can use as a resource throughout the application process. To impress the hiring officials and land an interview, consider these tips:

Align your qualifications with job requirements

Much like your standard resume, federal resumes need to portray your value, highlight your qualifications, and quantify your accomplishments—but in greater detail. An easy and effective way to tailor your resume and land a federal interview is to copy and paste the job requirements from the job announcement into a separate document and use that list as a guide as you write your content. This ensures your federal resume is clearly aligned with the specified requirements and qualifications for the job.

Expert Tip

Use specific terms from the job posting in your federal resume. For example, if the qualifications section states “MS Excel” as essential, use the exact words “MS Excel” on your resume.

Quantify your achievements

The government is looking to hire the best of the best. Your job is to provide them with proof that you will excel at the job, and one of the best ways to provide that proof is to draw from previous results. Include as many specific examples as possible to prove how well you can perform the tasks required for the job. 

Refer back to your performance reviews, references, and awards as the source for your specific achievements. These accomplishments back up the skills being put forward and will position you as the right person for the job. Wherever you can, back up your achievements with numbers (percentages or dollars for example) and provide context to explain what steps you took to achieve those outcomes.

Copyable Example

Improved document processing efficiency 25% over the previous year by designing and implementing a new filing system.

Eliminated a backlog of 200 order queries in a two-week period, streamlining operations and enhancing overall workflow efficiency.

Orchestrated a fundraising campaign, securing $30K in donations to support a community outreach program aimed at providing educational resources to underprivileged students.

What should you include in a federal resume?

For each past job, provide the standard information found in most resumes such as company name, dates of employment, location, and job title. Beyond that, federal resumes typically require additional information, including: 

  • The job announcement number, job title, and job grade of the job for which you are applying

  • Your country of citizenship, if different from the U.S.

  • Security clearance(s) you possess

  • Past employers’ location (city and state)

  • Average number of hours worked per week

  • Supervisors’ name and contact information and if they may be contacted

  • Work status at each role, specifying full time, part time, volunteer, or contract capacity

  • Annual salary earned or hourly rate for each role listed

  • Job-related training courses, certifications, or licenses earned with year of completion

  • Any honors, awards, accolades, leadership activities, memberships, or publications

How long should a federal resume be?

If you’ve done any research on corporate resumes, you’ve been taught to keep it concise, focusing on your most recent work experience. While one or two pages suffice for traditional resumes, this is not the case with federal resumes. Unlike resumes used in the private sector, federal resumes require additional details about your work history and there’s no limit on how long a federal resume can be.

A well-crafted federal resume should outline your work experience, volunteer roles, academic achievements, and extracurricular activities in detail. It’s perfectly normal (and expected) that your federal resume be up to five pages–or even longer. With the extra space, you have plenty of room to list specific accomplishments that are relevant to the position’s qualifications.

How should I format a federal resume?

When creating your federal resume, keep the format clean and simple. This is not the time to show off your creativity or advanced Word skills. Use bullets to highlight accomplishments, select a traditional font like Times New Roman or Calibri, and keep fancy formatting styles to a minimum (avoid graphics or colors). List your experiences in reverse chronological order, and keep sections separated and organized. 

Here’s a great federal resume example that demonstrates the simplicity the government is looking for.

Need resume writing help? Our expert resume writing services can help you create a stellar resume that showcases your unique skills and experience.

Key takeaways

  1. Unlike corporate resumes, federal resumes require in-depth information about your work history, making it essential to provide comprehensive details on your experiences.

  2. Tailor your federal resume by meticulously aligning it with the specific job requirements, using the job announcement as a guide.

  3. Quantify achievements with tangible metrics, percentages, or dollar values, providing evidence of your ability to excel in the job and stand out as a top candidate.

  4. When formatting your resume, avoid unnecessary embellishments, use a traditional font, and organize your professional experience in reverse chronological order to meet federal standards.

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