How To Prepare a Resume in Federal Format

When a government job opportunity requests applicants to send their resumes in federal format, many candidates become anxious and uncertain of how to proceed. Although federal resumes may present a daunting additional layer of work to your job applications, they can be easily prepared by making only a few adjustments to your standard resume.

Here are a few tips and general guidelines to get you started with your federal resume:

Read the Job Description and Verify Your Qualifications

On the whole, federal jobs tend to be more specific and particular about their requirements for candidates than most other jobs. Often, they will only be seeking candidates who possess a certain amount of experience in a particular field, or a specific type of education, training or certification. Since these requirements are often more stringent than in other typical job applications, you’ll want to make sure you fulfill each of these requirements before beginning a federal resume.

You will also want to pay attention to how you will be evaluated in the application process and take appropriate measures to prepare yourself. If the job description specifies that the interview portion is most emphasized in your evaluation, then be sure to brush up on your communication skills and prepare some responses to common interview questions to successfully present an outstanding impression. If the application is evaluated more heavily on your skills and experiences, make sure the content of your resume is as closely aligned as possible with the job’s desired abilities and qualifications.

Include All of the Necessary Information

Federal resumes will require several key pieces of information which normally are not included on standard resumes. For every job position on your federal resume, you will also need to include:

1. Accurate start and end dates (month and year)
2. The average number of hours worked per week
3. Your most recent salary

Some federal job applications may also request each of your employers’ addresses, cities,
states or countries. Occasionally, your supervisor’s name and contact information will also be requested.

Additionally, make sure that your job title and experience descriptions are accurately reflective of your level and amount of experience. To help reinforce your experience level, it’s helpful to include specific examples of your duties and accomplishments to prove that you are highly capable of performing each of the federal job’s required tasks. When preparing these descriptions, you will want to focus on addressing every single one of the federal job’s requirements. The more effectively your federal resume can satisfy each requirement of a federal job, the better chance you have of earning a position.

Make Sure Your Writing and Formatting Are Clear

Your federal resume will need to be as concise and readable as possible. Many federal jobs
receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes, so you will need to make sure that your
document is capable of presenting your most relevant experiences, accomplishments and
qualifications within 10 to 15 seconds of viewing. Ideally, you will want to effectively sell yourself before reaching the halfway mark on your page.

With the written components, it’s typically best to avoid using too many elaborate or complex words. Keeping things simplistic, consistent, concise and readable in bullet point or paragraph format is always the best option. A recruiter or hiring manager who has read 100 resumes the same day as yours will not be impressed by your extensive vocabulary, grammatical skills or ability to create complicated formatting schemes. They merely want to gather information from you, and your resume will convey this information more effectively when written in a simplistic manner.

In addition, you will want to make sure your resume is organized logically and meaningfully. Each job position you’ve held will need to be organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent being placed first. You should elaborate further on details relevant to the federal job while reducing any descriptions which aren’t applicable. Make sure each of your specific achievements are listed underneath the jobs they correspond with.

To help make your accomplishments and work highlights stand out more clearly, it will be
beneficial to include numerical values in your descriptions. Sentences such as “Reduced
overhead costs by 25%” are always a good way to demonstrate your capabilities and prove your value as an employee. It is also most effective to avoid using acronyms and instead write out the full versions of each term. This way, you can be certain that recruiters and hiring managers will easily understand your accomplishments.

Even though federal resumes do present a unique set of challenges to job applicants, we hope that this guide will help make the process of creating one feel much less intimidating. By making a few minor adjustments to a standard resume and complying with the general guidelines for federal resumes, any qualified candidate can successfully make their way into an interview for a federal job.

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