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Crafting the Resume for a Federal Government Position
If you are seeking a government position, you need to know that the federal resume is a bit different from one you would create for a private sector position of the same type. While you certainly will provide much of the same information on both types of resumes, here are some important tips for your federal resume.
- It Will be Longer
While a resume for the private sector should be no more than 2 pages, the federal resume will be 4-5 pages. You will need to provide more detail relative to your work experience, but it still must be easily scanned and read. This can be particularly challenging, so you may want to locate a federal resume writing service with crafters who have significant background and experience.
- No Digital Reading
A federal government resume will be read only by a human – there is not digital screening that takes place. However, this does not mean that you should not include keywords and keyword phrases that appeared in the job posting. Quite the contrary. Whenever possible, include those keywords as you speak to positions you have held and bold them when you do. This allows the reader to quickly pick up on the fact that your responsibilities in other positions relate to the position opening for which you are applying.
- Do Not List All of Your Previous Jobs if There Have Been Many
A good rule of thumb is to include the most recent and the most relevant positions. If, for example, you have 10 or more previous positions, select 4-7 that relate most directly to the background and skills that are most related to this position. Leave out temporary, short-term, and non-relevant positions. Making these selections can be a bit difficult. There may be a position from 8 years ago that is clearly relevant, but two more recent ones that have no relevance. And yet you have to account for that gap. This is the kind of thing that a pro from a federal government resume writing service can help with. Filling in those gap years with a really well written sentence or two will be necessary.
- Group Some positions Together
If you held several temporary or contractor positions, you should group them all together; however, if one or two really demonstrate skills and accomplishments that relate to the new position, treat them separately.
- Providing Great Detail
Federal resume writing requires that you provide more detail about work experience than you might in a resume for the private sector. But this is not a reason to make your text more difficult to read. Avoid long paragraphs. Instead, use bullet points and short paragraphs with keywords bolded, so that a reader will pick them up.
- Understand the Rating Process
When HR specialists are reviewing resumes (and there may be several dividing up this reading marathon), resumes are placed into three categories – Minimally Qualified (score of 70-79), Qualified (80-89) and Best Qualified (90-100). This scoring system is based upon relevancy of prior work experience and educational background. Anything below a 70 is trashed. It I really important, then, and it bears repeating, that you focus on those keywords that were in the position posting.
- Listing Accomplishments is a Must
Most candidates for federal positions fail to list all of their accomplishments and the context within which those accomplishments were achieved. Just listing task responsibilities in a position will not suffice. If you were able to provide more cost-efficiency; if you were able negotiate lower contractor fees; if you developed a new software app – these thing should be highlighted. Again, this is where federal resume writing services can be of great assistance. They can probe the candidate and ask the right questions that will often result in many more accomplishments being listed and described. And they will know how to put those accomplishments within the context of the positions in which you achieved them.
Some Final thoughts
- Federal resumes must be designed and crafted with no grammatical errors. In prose sections, sentence structure must be perfect.
- If you see a keyword (e.g. procurement) several times in the job posting, be certain that it appears within the first 5-6 lines of the work experience section of your resume. This will “jump” your point score.
- If you are applying for multiple different positions, you resume should be unique for each of those positions.
- If you have not composed a federal resume in the past, your best bet is to use a professional resume service that has lots of experience with them.
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