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The following article appeared in the 'Letters to The Advisor' column of the Federal Jobs Digest.

Dear Advisor,

Yes, of course, I would like to have a dream job with the Federal government, earn a high salary and retire with a fat pension in 20 years. It is certainly worth trying for and maybe I will be chosen. At the same time I can't afford to put all my eggs in one basket. I need a resume that will work not only for the Federal government, but also for the mom-and-pop business down the block. What will mom-and-pop say if they get my fancy Federal resume in the mail? Will they figure that I am too expensive for them and forget me?

Tell the truth.

Committed to diversification

Bob P,
Ft Lauderdale Fl

Dear Committed

A job with America's #1 employer would be nice, and your chances are pretty good especially if you are persistent and apply for more than one open position. However, nothing in life is guaranteed so by all means you should apply to any job of interest to you Federal or private sector. But here is the silver lining.

Your Federal resume will give you a better chance of getting a job in the private sector, even with the mom-and-pop business down the road, than an ordinary resume. This is because a Federal resume is written to a very high standard, the gold standard of resumes. Why?

Even professionally written private sector resumes shoot only half-way up the ladder-to get you the interview, not the job. A well-written Federal resume shoots all the way to the top of the ladder-to get you the job itself. Private sector resumes are filled with teasers and empty claims that may intrigue an employer into asking you for an interview, but which do not close the deal. The Federal resume aims to close the deal.

The Federal resume presents your background in such a way that the employer is given hard evidence that you are the one and only person for his job. He doesn't have to interview a small army of job candidates. He already has the best candidate in hand-you.

A Federal resume impresses employers with:
  1. your evidence: what you've actually done;
  2. your presentation: how you describe what you've done.
Employers won't challenge the factual content of your job descriptions. They accept your descriptions pretty much at face value, although they will contact your references to verify your dates of employment, job titles, terms of separation. How you write about your work history becomes all important. Otherwise, you may lose out to someone who may have accomplished less, but who has described it more effectively. And you better believe that happens all the time.

Examples of the Federal resume approach

PRIVATE: "Assisted in assigning work schedules to four computer operators."

Sounds pretty ordinary, doesn't it? But suppose your resume said:

FEDERAL: "Provided direction to a staff of four (4) computer operators. Assigned work schedules and tasks in consultation with the Section Chief."

Here's another example: let's say you ran a mailroom, and you were working alone. You could describe your tasks this way:

PRIVATE: "Operated mailroom electronic equipment by myself."

But supposed your resume said:

FEDERAL: "Directed the operation of computerized mailroom software, working without supervision."

Sounds better, doesn't it? When you're applying for a job, the point isn't merely to be accurate, but to make an impression. Remember: this is your professional advertisement. Want another example?

PRIVATE: "Provided monitoring of X?ray equipment that was being shipped form the warehouse. Provided coordination to vendors, suppliers, and shipping firms. Tried to get good terms. Wound up saving some money for the company."

Notice: the word "provided" is used twice. It's a weak verb. The overall impression left by this description is vague.

But suppose your resume said:

FEDERAL: "Directed and monitored the shipping of expensive and sensitive X?ray equipment. Negotiated with freight companies. Obtained the most favorable prices and terms.

Result: Saved the company $50,000 in shipping costs in the first six months."

Notice: this is not only more specific, it's focused on what YOU accomplished. The key is to present the results in what you've done.

A well written Federal resume leaves any employer, Federal or private, with the impression you want to leave--get this guy before somebody else does.

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