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Avoiding the Most Common USAJOBS Mistakes


If your federal resume is not producing results, i.e., “best qualified” ratings, interview opportunities, and job offers, what do you do? Don't give up! Incorporate the necessary changes, described below, and revitalize your strategy to make you more competitive in the federal job market.


Most Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make on

I received this message from a job seeker, “I have used my federal resume to apply for at least 25 different federal jobs, and I have not been rated as qualified for any of them. What am I doing wrong? Please help!”

After reviewing her information on USAJOBS with her, I noticed this job seeker was well-qualified for a number of those opportunities, but she was making some very common mistakes.

Mistake #1. No Page 1 Strategy.

Submitting the same resume for every opportunity may have been the simplest thing for her to do, but by the same resume, this job seeker repeatedly eliminated herself.

She did not address the Six Audiences™ on Page 1 of her resume for the unique requirements for each job announcement.

The resume you use to apply for a job must incorporate the keywords and qualifications that are in the job announcement.

Keywords and keyword phrases can be found throughout the announcement, but the critical keywords are found in these sections of the announcements: Job Duties, Qualifications and Evaluations, and Specialized Experience. These can change from job announcement to job announcement—even if the job titles are the same!

For example, I have listed keywords from two different job announcements currently listed on for the same job title.

A. Administrative Support Assistant (Bureau of Land Management) keywords include:

  • Perform a wide variety of administrative support functions related to budget and finance, human resources, natural resources, travel, timekeeping/payroll, correspondence, records, collections, and public contact.
  • Provide general information concerning office operations to the public both orally and in writing.
  • Serve as a collections officer preparing appropriate receipts, records, and tracking forms; depositing monies and reconcile accounts receivable.
  • Budget maintenance.
  • Completing requisitions.
  • Reconciling charge card statements.
  • Travel voucher preparation.
  • Database administration.
  • Maintaining logs and calendars.

B. Administrative Support Assistant (Veterans Benefits Administration) keywords include:

  • Gather data for use in statistical and narrative reports and use various computer software to assemble final reports for submission.
  • Monitor suspense dates to ensure information or data is distributed in an effective and timely manner.
  • Research and assist employees within the division on administrative aspects of current policies including memorandums, travel, timekeeping, or other issues.
  • Prepare materials that may be confidential or sensitive in nature.
  • Complete general personnel requests including, personnel action requests, organizational charts, official time and overtime requests, and other matters requested by the supervisor.

Assuming that the job seeker had experience to do both of those jobs, the same resume would not align the job seeker's skills to target both of these positions effectively.

So, the savvy job seeker reading this article would adjust the resume to fit each announcement. It is time well spent!


Mistake #2. Skipping fields in the USAJOBS Resume Builder.

Read the job announcement line-by-line carefully and then complete the application process thoroughly and accurately.

When using the online Resume Builder on, don't leave fields blank. If you have a question, write to us! Comment below!

For example, there is a field for your grade point average. Leaving it blank because you are afraid it might not meet expectations is not a good idea. If YOU think your GPA is too low, strategize other skills to outshine it, but don't leave it blank! Make it easy and give the Six Audiences™ what they need to do their job. This is what keeps your resume moving through the process faster. 

Likewise, the USAJOBS Resume Builder asks for a salary for each of your work experiences, as well as the supervisor’s name and the business contact number. Some people are reluctant to supply that information, so they leave it blank. This is another mistake that can postpone your federal job aspirations before you even get started.

Answer all of the questions, check all of the boxes that need to be checked, and make sure the application you submit is complete and accurate. There are strategies that can be used to address certain circumstances. If you are unsure, please don't delay your federal career over the details. Contact us. We have Magnetize Your Certified Federal Résumé Certified Writers on staff ready to help.


Mistake #3. Being careless in your response to the announcements.

Always follow each vacancy announcement's criteria to screen yourself IN, not out. For example, some announcements state to fax application documents including a resume, KSAs, DD-214s, and eligibility for federal employment forms. Other jobs specify that the applicant is to complete the online Resume Builder, and also upload or attach other documentation within the application manager on USAJOBS.

The date and time by which the application must be received are also specified. Sending the application a few days late and hoping it will still be considered is not an option.Other job announcements direct the applicant to simply attach a completed federal resume to an email for submission.

Magnetic Tips: You should also be aware that many job postings have applicant caps. Even if a job posting displays a close date that is two weeks away, the job may actually close today if the capped number of applicants is reached today by midnight.

Read every detail when it comes to the How To Apply and Required Documents section.

Pay attention to how the documents should be submitted and always use the preferred methods when possible.

You should also be aware that many job postings have applicant caps. Here's an example from a recent job announcement for a Veterans Service Representative: "This job will close when we have received 175 applications which may be sooner than the closing date."

Even if a job posting displays a close date that is two weeks away, the job may actually close today if the capped number of applicants is reached today by midnight. Our clients are trained to BE PREPARED. Tthey always have a 90% resume waiting for the best-fit job announcement then only 10% of the resume needs to be completed when the job announcements are posted. Is your federal resume 90% ready?

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"Avoiding the Most Common USAJOBS Mistakes"

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