We recommend retaining a professional service to prepare your resume. A resume is just too important--both in terms of reducing your search time and in justifying an appropriate salary-- to be left to someone who is not trained in the process. However, in some cases financial constraints may prevent retaining a professional. In this case follow this outline for the best results. The formulas given apply to Federal and other government work, but will work equally well for private work.
Good luck on your job search.
Match Your Background To Appropriate Job Titles
There are over 5,000 job titles in Federal service and over 25,000 in the private economy. You may be missing many good opportunities by not knowing the job titles for which you are qualified. Knowing the job standards for all 5,000 Federal occupations is not something you can be expected to know. But at the least you should read any job announcement you see posted on www.jobsfed.com that seems like it might be of interest even if you do not immediately recognize the job title.
For example here are just a few of the many job titles you may never have heard of but for which you may well be qualified, because the requirements are quite general: Special Agent Commerce, Civil Rights Analyst, Support Services Specialist, Environmental Protection Assistant, or Exhibits Specialist.
Study the Job Standards for the Job Titles of Interest to You
The Job Standards for all white color Federal jobs appear in this document: Position Classifications Standards For White Collar Occupations For blue collar occupations they appear in this document: Blue Collar Occupations Be sure to learn the standards at the salary level appropriate for you. The qualifications differ by salary level. These same standards also apply in the private sector. In creating these standards the Federal agencies consult private sector employers. So by using these standards in your resume you will impress not only government employers by private sector ones as well.
Job standards are very specific. To show that you meet the standard your writing must be just as specific. For example, your may write -a) I have excellent keyboarding skills both in terms of accuracy and speed. However, the standard may say, Must stroke 40 words per minute with a maximum of 1 error every 300 words. In this case the resume that writes a) above will lose points. What was needed was, I keyboard at the rate of 45 words per minute with an error rate better than 1 per 300 words.
Study the Qualifications and the KSA's in any vacancy announcement or job advertisements you have found that are of particular interest.
If you are presenting the resume in response to a job ad, be sure to address the qualifications stated in the ad. In Federal service these qualifications may include some labeled KSA's which stands for Knowledge, Skills, Abilities. Each of these must be specifically addressed and at length. Depending on salary level Federal resumes often go to five pages.
Here is a typical KSA that appears on many Federal and private sector employment ads: "You must have the ability to communicate effectively in writing". Since you know any employer wants you to be able to communicate effectively, address your skills in this area in your resume. Here's an example of how to respond to this KSA:
My proven ability to communicate effectively in writing has been a key to my effectiveness as a Contract Specialist. Due to both the highly technical nature and the high dollar value of the contracts that I negotiate and then administer, my written communication skills must be precise, yet also persuasive. My record indicates that they are. In addition to my 13 years of experience in procurement and contracting, a role which has required extensive written communications of all kinds--inter-office memoranda, formal correspondence, reports and briefing papers--I also have been formally trained in written communication, both during my baccalaureate degree program and also during my career in Federal service.
Examples of my ability in this area include the following:
Initiated and became Editor of the bi-monthly newsletter, Customer Support Times, which continues as the official newsletter of the Office of Logistics Management Customer Support Team for XZY Company. This newsletter is circulated to eight pilot posts, as well as to members of the Logistics Reengineering Pilot Teams, the leadership of Logistics Management, and other high-level Department officials.
Wrote and successfully submitted a waiver approved by the Head of the Contracting Activity resulting in approval for using the Impac card for automobile parts.
Use A Problem-Solution Approach to Your Work History Sections
Simply recounting your job description in a resume or listing your duties, responsibilities and accomplishments will not get you into the winner's circle in most cases. You need to show the screening panel or your individual prospective employer that you are the best of the candidates who has responded to his ad. To do this your job descriptions should use a proven sales technique. We like the problem-solution technique. To use it frame your duties as problems and your accomplishments as solutions. In so doing match your accomplishments to the job standards you discovered in step 2 and 3 above. This technique will work well for you with both government and private employers.
Here's an example of a problem solution description of part of a job candidate's work history:
"When I joined XYZ organization, some major accounting functions were still being done by hand. I convinced my boss to let me work on streamlining the manual accounting functions. I drew up a plan to computerize the Accounting Department and presented this plan to him.
He approved my plan. I was given a $35,000 budget. I contacted a number of vendors and developed bidding procedures. Within nine months, we had completely changed the way accounting is done at XYZ. Now it's all done on computers and software I purchased, organized around a financial control system that I designed."
Employ The Key Words and Phrases The Employer wants To See
Learning the key words and phrases for different occupations and salary levels takes a lot of experience. However, you can get part way by a) Studying the job standard and job ads you reviewed in steps 2 and 3 above and b) Using common sense. The key words often appear in the ads and the job standards. Learn to recognize and use them. With regard to common sense, remember that the most important part of your sentences is the verbs.
For example here are key words used in a successful resume for a law enforcement professional. Note use of active verbs:
planning investigations; researching collecting and analyzing data; administrative and other related duties; utilizing state?of?the?art communications and other hi?tech surveillance and intelligence data gathering equipment; conducting interviews; conducting undercover investigations and surveillance; conducting asset forfeiture investigations; conducting missing person investigations; investigating employee crimes, rape cases, assault cases, and other crimes; international investigations; locating hidden assets; coordinating activities with law enforcement personnel at the Federal, state, local and international levels; analyzing and evaluating intelligence data, evidence, financial data, legal material; writing, editing and presenting report findings; making oral and written presentations; working independently; patrolling; responding, providing assistance and back?up; proactive patrol; reduce street crime and illicit drug activity; enforcing laws; investigations of major crimes; collecting and recording physical evidence, interrogating; protecting crime scenes; processing crime scenes by photography, sketching and collection of physical evidence; preparing composites; using the "Identi?kit"; booking and finger?printing; chain of custody, chemical analysis, security surveys; testifying, firearms training with revolver, semi?auto pistol, and pump shot?gun.
Use The Required Format for Federal jobs.
The outline that follows at the end of this page is required for Federal jobs. It includes information you must supply such as names of former supervisors, reasons for leaving and so on. Be sure to supply all information and structure it as indicated. While private sector employers may not have a required format, use of this format impresses any employer in a positive way.
REQUIRED FORMAT FOR A FEDERAL RESUME
You may use the template we have developed for Do-It-Yourself users.
(Requires subscription to the Federal Jobs Digest On-Line Edition. So you
will come to a log-in first, from there sign up for a 2-week free
subscription and get a password.) The template automatically formats your
resume properly. Or, follow the outline below in your Word program.
Federal Resume Requirements
Candidates who choose to submit a resume to apply for Federal job openings need to include the following information. Failure to include all of the required information will probably result in the application being neither considered nor acknowledged.
- Previous names used
- Home phone (email address if possible)
- Social Security Number
- Country of citizenship
- Veteran's Preference ("no" if noneIf yes, include SF-50, DD-214)
You must identify the job for which you are applying on each submission. Consequently, each resume must be altered for this purpose.
- Job Vacancy Announcement Number
- Job Title
- Grade for which applying
A statement declaring your personnel career objectives and the reason you have interest in the job for which you are applying. (A statement declaring your interest in the particular Agency-in addition to the job-will make a positive impression. For example, "I have great interest in the mission of the U.S. Forest Service, because…").
Do you give permission to contact your current supervisor ("yes" or "no").
Include both paid and non-paid work (voluntary). Voluntary work is fully credited in the Federal job evaluation process. Cover the last five years. Treat each promotion with the same employer as a new job. For each job include:
- job title
- duties & accomplishments ("Responsibilities/Objectives"
followed by "Results")
- employer's name
- employer's address
- supervisor's name & phone number
- starting & ending dates (month & year)
- hours per week
- reason for leaving (if discharged, explain fully)
Only education in an accredited school will be considered.
Job-Related Training Courses/Certificates
- Year of degree(s)
- Name of school(s)
- Major(s) or concentration
- Minor(s) or sub-concentration
- GPA or Grade
- Name of course/seminar
- Organization (or employer) conducting course/seminar
- Length of course/seminar (if 6 months or over, put under education)
- Year taken
List your skills. Use no more than 3-4 words per skill.
Job-Related Certificates and Licenses
Job-Related Honors, Awards, Memberships
- Conferring organization
- Year received
- Valid period (when expires or "permanent")
Include for both paid and non-paid (voluntary) work. These
achievements make a very positive impression on Federal
review panels and all employers.
- Organization (or employer) conferring
- Accomplishment honored
Submit your new Federal resume to any Federal employer including...