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Don't Let Your Government Job Resume Sell You Out

Many first-time Federal job applicants receive a disappointing rating on their Federal application, even though they are highly qualified. Their low rating is often not a result of poor qualifications, but of a poor application package.

They fall into the self-laid trap that many first-time Federal job seekers encounter.   They let resumes sell them out.   The written application, whether it is a Federal Resume, OF-612, SF-171, From C, is most of the ball game in applying for a Federal job.   Applicants resume must explicitly present every detail of their relevant experience and relate it to the job they are seeking.   Otherwise a low rating will result.

The Purpose of the Federal Resume

Many first time Federal job seekers believe that the main purpose of the resume is to get an interview.   They believe that the resume is just a foot in the door, a screener for the main show.   The main show is interview.   Slam-dunk the interview and they have the job, they believe.   This is, indeed, the right formula for a private sector job.   It is a recipe for disaster in a Federal job search.

Most of the decision-making in Federal recruitment is made by the screening panel that reviews the resumes or other Federal application of the applicants.   Fifty people may have applied for the position.   The screening panel narrows the field to as few as one, but generally, three finalists before the first interview ever takes place.   How different this is from the private sector where just about any candidate who looks promising on paper is invited to take an interview.

Hiring Objectivity

The reason for this is not so much that Federal recruiters don’t like giving interviews.   The reason is to maximize objectivity in the hiring decision.   Subjective factors play a much bigger role in a personal interview than they do on paper.   Appearance and personal style are major factors in an interview.   They play no role on a resume.

Reason For Low Rating                               

Apparently you are not making the cut most of the time.   When you did make the cut, you were selected for a much lower job that you believe your experience deserves.   Let’s find out why.

To understanding the reason you are scoring so low, let’s take a look over the shoulders of the Federal examiners as they review your resume.   On the desk in front of this panel is your resume and a copy of the Vacancy Announcement for the job you seek.

Now The Fun Begins        

The Vacancy Announcement has two sections of particular interest:   Basic Qualifications, and Ranking Factors (otherwise called KSA’s—Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Basis of Rating or some such term).   The examiners check off each item listed under Basic Qualifications and Ranking Factors and look for a corresponding point on your resume.  

For example, let’s say the Basic Qualifications for the job are: keyboarding of 65 wpm, and basic understanding of Windows 2000 or XP.   KSA’s include: Proficiency with a word processing application, expert knowledge of grammar, punctuation and spelling, and proficiency making travel plans and arrangements.  

Now your resume says something like this regarding your experience in a particular position:   Provided   high-level administrative support in a stressful multi-tasking environment. Demonstrated expert key-boarding skills, superior writing and editing skills. Handled all scheduling in-office and out.

Sounds Good, But No Cigar

Your resume sounds great, but it doesn’t do the job.   It does not explicitly state that you have the qualifications sought.   You say you have “expert” keyboarding skills.   It doesn’t say you type 65 wpm.   If says you have “superior” writing and editing skills.   It doesn’t say you have an expert knowledge of grammar, punctuation and spelling.   It says you “handle” all scheduling in-office and out.   It doesn’t say you made travel plans and arrangements.

So what’s going to happen.   Your resume will be marked up like this.   For every area in doubt you’ll lose points:   -5 or here, -10 other there.   For every area not explicitly addressed, such as your knowledge of Win 95, 98 or 2000 and your knowledge of word processing, you may be marked -15 for each.    When the rating is done, you’ll get a 60.   You could have received 100, if you had been explicit about each Qualification and KSA sought.

  Obtain The Vacancy Announcement

So what have we learned?   Most importantly obtain a copy of the full Vacancy Announcement for each and every job you seek. Identify every qualification and KSA being sought.   Show explicitly that you meet the requirements to the fullest extent that you are able.   Then apply with confidence.

Instead of frustrations you’ll have some good ratings and quite possibly a nice job offer to think about.   Please note that the full vacancy announcement for every job listed in the FJD is not available on line at http://www.federaljobsdigest.com.   Just bring up the page and type in the announcement number.   The full Vacancy Announcement, which usually runs several pages, will display.