Effective Federal Government Résumé
This was originally written for Job-Hunt.org, May 2009.
A Federal résumé is similar to a private sector résumé, with much more detail. The Federal résumé is one of three documents that can be used to apply for Federal jobs.
The OF-612 (Optional Application for Federal Employment) and SF-171 (Standard Form 171, Federal Employment Application) are the other application forms used for Federal government positions. However, the SF-171 is no longer accepted by most agencies now.
There are a minimum of four main audiences that will be reading the résumé:
- The computer scanner, also known as the applicant tracking system (database),
- Human Resource personnel,
- The hiring manager.
- The background investigation team will also use your résumé and other documentation to verify employment, education, and qualifications for security clearance purposes, after the candidate is selected for the position. Some of the verification process is also done before selecting candidates for interviews as well.
Using a well-constructed Federal résumé gives the candidates a greater opportunity to sell themselves to the employer by incorporating categories that would typically be seen on a traditional private-sector résumé, such as Qualifications Summary and Core Competencies—both of which should include keywords and requirements from the job announcement. This strategy is the key element in an effective résumé.
In these two sections, keywords, requirements, and qualifications can be showcased in order to ‘sell’ the candidate to the employer.
It is critical to use the same verbiage used in the description of the opportunity. If the qualifications in the announcement specify "procuring supplies," the résumé should use exactly the same terminology. Do not change the words on your résumé to "purchasing supplies" even though the tasks are the same. Using exactly the same keywords in the description are critical to the effectiveness of the résumé.
What information must be included on a Federal résumé?
It is important that the Federal résumé include all the information required by the announcement. Otherwise, the candidate could be disqualified. Planning ahead is essential to ensuring all the information is accurate.
Name, middle initial, last name, address, city, state, zip, day and evening phone numbers, Social Security Number, veteran’s preference, country of citizenship, highest Federal civilian grade held, reinstatement eligibility, and email address. Some agencies are changing to using the last four digits of the social security number due to the increase in identity theft.
Announcement number, job title, series, and grade of the position.
High school name, city, state, zip, diploma or GED; colleges or universities, including name, city, state, zip, degree or major, three to four relevant courses, number of semester hours completed, GPA, and the date graduated.
Name of training course, name of institution, and month and year completed.
Branch of military, rank, location, and depending on what the candidate is applying for, the responsibilities and accomplishments could be a short list or a long list.
Job title, name of employer, street address, city, state, zip; supervisor, supervisor’s phone number, may or may not contact; starting and ending salary; number of hours worked per week; starting month and year to ending month and year; key responsibilities; and key accomplishments.
Name of certificate, institution issuing the certificate, and month and year.
Name of award, institution issuing the certificate, and month and year.
Published work, related or not, and month and year.
Presentations given on relevant or non-relevant topics, and month and year.
Role, name of organization, month and year (paid or non-paid experience).
Three references of individuals who can verify work ethic, character, and performance.
The format of the Federal résumé varies depending on the writer. However, it is critical that the above information be included on the résumé. Some people create only a text version (.txt) of the résumé that can be used to copy and paste into the online builders. Therefore, the format and order of the categories would not matter in this case because the information would be copied and pasted in order on the builder.
With that said, I suggest creating three versions of each Federal résumé so the candidate has the proper tools for each situation:
- Word document (.doc or .docx) for generating the initial résumé;
- Text file (.txt) for copying and pasting into the builders—this version does not have graphics, bold, or shading, only plain text so it transfers to the builder without odd characters being substituted;
- Portable document format (.pdf) for printing. This allows the candidate to print the résumé on any printer without having to repaginate the document to meet individual printer settings.
There are many strategies I use in positioning a candidate for a Federal job. Similar to any other traditional résumé, the candidate’s strongest attributes that are the most relevant to the position should be listed toward the first part of the résumé. For example, if the candidate does not have a degree, then the Education category should be listed toward the end of the résumé. However, if the candidate has many relevant training items, those could be listed toward the first part of the résumé. Each candidate has a different background, education, talent, knowledge, skills, and abilities.
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"Effective Federal Government Résumé"
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