Federal Government Jobs

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Federal Resumes

Federal Resume Guidance

Federal resumes and KSAs provide selecting officials their first impression of the applicant through their application and federal resume composition, format, and content.  I personally reviewed and rated thousands of federal resumes during my career. Resumes and KSAs that are tailored to the job announcement receive higher ratings.

Federal Job Resume

Your application makes a lasting impression on the selecting official and it tells them a lot about your attention to details, desire, qualifications, and motivation. These are essential first steps that you must take to write a professional federal resume that will help you attract the attention of the rating and selecting officials. Use our Federal Resume Guide to make your resume stand out from the crowd.


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Certified Federal Resume Writing Services

The Essential First Steps

To gain federal employment, candidates must be aware of two very specific strategies:

First, applicants must read the entire vacancy announcement and the position description if available. All too often, applicants transitioning from the military or private sector to the federal government do not read the entire announcement. Rather, they look at only the salary and the job description; if they like what they read, they decide to apply.

Many end up disappointed when, during an initial consultation, they realize that other mandatory elements were overlooked in their haste to find federal employment — elements they’re unable to fulfill.

Further, in reading the entire announcement, you will gain an up-front understanding of what supporting documents are required for the announcement. In many cases, we have seen candidates — who were perfectly qualified for a job — end up being rejected by the government because they failed to include a document requested as part of the How to Apply section of the announcement

Second, candidates must tailor their federal resumes to the position description or the vacancy announcement. The federal government does not want to hear that an applicant thinks he/she can do the job; rather, the government is looking for specific examples that demonstrate that he/she can do the job. For example, being self-taught in setting up a home computer network and having successfully set up one in a home is not the same as setting up a Local Area Network (LAN) for a multi-location agency spread over a 500-mile radius.

When you complete your federal resume online read the instructions carefully. When tailoring your résumé to a specific job description or vacancy announcement, it is important to mirror what the announcement is looking for, as best as possible. There is no such thing as “too much information” — the more examples of your success in fulfilling the job description you can provide in accomplishment-focused statements, the higher your application package will be rated.

A federal style resume is completely different from the simple one-page private sector résumé. There are over 40 specific informational data elements required and much of it repeats for each work experience. Before attempting to complete your federal résumé online, review the samples in this chapter and use the next section to complete your federal resumes. You must include all requested information and answer occupational questionnaires if required in the job announcement.

I suggest writing your federal resume using a word processor program prior to attempting to post it online. Some agencies still require hard copy submissions, and this way you can produce both a paper hard copy and electronic format. You will be able to spell check your federal resume and you will have time to compose coherent work histories tailored to the job announcement or position description without time limits. To submit your application online simply copy and paste each section from your draft into the online résumé builder.

This process can dramatically improve your federal resume, resulting in higher ratings, and you will be able to keep your resume updated on your desktop. When you bid on other jobs in the same or similar occupational group you may be able to simply change the job announcement number and title and send it in. However, review each job announcement carefully. Even occupations in the same job series within the same agency can have significantly different requirements, and you must tailor your resume to those criteria to improve your chances.

Federal Resume Writing Services

Applying for federal jobs can be frustrating and the federal resume has to be targeted to the job announcement and highlight your qualifications to be rated “Best Qualified.” Only applications rated best qualified are forwarded to the selecting official for consideration. Federal resume writing services can give you the edge that you need if you work closely with them to highlight your qualifications for the position applied for.

You must work closely with the federal resume writer to provide detailed information. Federal resumes and KSAs must be specific, and the only way the federal resume writers can get this information is from you, so be prepared. They will need lists of your awards, detailed work history, military service job descriptions, rank and time of service if applicable, education and training, special skills and certifications, volunteer work, and temporary details and promotion information. Only you can provide the details.

A professional federal resume service uses only certified writers. They will work with you to ensure that your federal resume, KSAs, or ECQs are thorough, grammatically correct, properly formatted, tailored to the job announcement, and in a file format suitable for the job you are applying for.

Applicants can also write their resume / application independently with the proper resources and knowledge. Many are able to complete their application using these excellent resources. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do it on your own, there are Federal Resume Writing Services available to assist you. The service you select will be based on several factors including:

  1. Complexity of your resume and application
  2. Grade level that you are applying for
  3. Personal contact − ability to talk with the professional you hire
  4. The time you have available to work with the writer, and
  5. Cost of service – what you can afford


When selecting a resume writing service, make sure you will have phone and email contact with your assigned writer before you sign up. A professional service will help you tailor your application and resume to the specific job announcement. A number of low-cost services offer only online contact through a resume desktop.

Professional Service

Creditable services will discuss your personal needs and fees by phone once you provide them information about your work history, education, and qualifications, and upload a copy of the federal job vacancy announcement of interest.

Based on their initial review of your background, previously prepared documents, and position specifications, they will propose a federal resume package quote to meet your individual requirements. If you would like to proceed, an invoice will be generated for your approval and your certified federal resume writer will contact you for an introduction via email and telephone. Project development will be discussed and any additional documents that might be required will be requested by your writer.

Your federal resume and/or KSA drafts will be submitted for your review via email, and you will have the opportunity to request any changes or provide additional information to your writer.

Which Service is Best for You?

It depends on many factors. With the proper resources you can write your resume yourself, time permitting. If you hire a professional resume writing service, you will have to work by phone and online with the resume writer. Only you know the details they need to write your resume. An entry level federal style resume is typically 3 to 5 pages long and you must tailor you application and work experience to the job announcement’s required qualifications.

One advantage of hiring a professional service is that once they complete your resume for you can use that same resume, with minor modifications, for other government jobs within the same occupational group that you apply for. Just change the job title and announcement number and review the new job announcement to check for additional or different required duties and responsibilities. If these changed you will have to incorporate them into the new application.

You will find a sample federal style resume on our Federal Career Development Site. You must devote the time necessary to read the application sections, understand the concepts, tailor your resume to the job announcement, and compile the data logically, spell and grammar check your work in a word processor, and then apply.

Write Your Federal Resume Using Proper Guidance and Samples

When writing your resume, you have to consider many things and include all required information. Format is also important especially with RESUMIX and online submissions. If you are good at putting your thoughts down on paper and have the time available, you can complete your resume application as long as you fully understand the application process. I wrote many federal applications during my 35 + years of government service with great success. I was also a trained and certified federal rating official and reviewed and rated thousands of job applications.

The application and federal resume process isn’t formidable; however, you must tailor your federal resume to the job announcement. With a little coaching and the comprehensive federal resume samples that we provide here, you too can compile a comprehensive resume. Entry level job applicants can expect to spend at least 4 to 8 hours on their application. Midlevel applicants can easily spend several days compiling key information in preparation for completing their federal resume.

I encourage all who apply to complete their resume OFF-LINE. It is best to write your federal resume and/or application on your word processor and take your time to compile the info you need, draft your work experiences, spell check and ensure that you have ALL information that is required for the Job Announcement. Your federal style resume MUST be tailored to the job announcement to improve your chances of landing the job. After you complete your federal resume offline, it is a simple matter to copy and paste your federal resume data into online resume builders.

A word of caution. Once you have your federal resume completed and posted on USAJOBS, it’s easy to submit that same resume to apply for other job vacancies. That can cost you a possible job. Before resubmitting that same federal resume for another job vacancy READ the job announcement thoroughly to confirm other duties and specialized experience are not required for the new position. If you find different requirements, and you possess the new duties or specialized experience, incorporate them into your resume. It is not unusual to apply for the same job series and find other requirements, or new or additional KSA statements.


While all federal resumes typically require the same information, here are the significant character count requirements for the USAJobs online resume builder in order to file your application successfully online:

  • Overall Length: 30,000 characters
  • Work Experience: 3,000 characters per work experience
  • Education (includes relevant course work, licensures, and certifications): 2,000 characters to describe course work
  • Job-Related Training: 2,000 characters
  • Professional Publications: 2,000 characters
  • Additional Information: 22,000 characters; enter job-related honors, awards, leadership activities, skills, and professional profile. KSAs may be copied and pasted into this field, depending on the announcement’s instructions.

Candidates may store up to five separate federal resumes for use on the USAJobs site.

Tips for Preparing an Electronic Federal Resume

As you have seen in the previous section in which we discuss the different types of online application systems (USAJobs, CPOL, CHARTS, etc.), there is no such concept as “one size fits all” when preparing a federal résumé. However, below are a few tips to help you bridge the compatibility differences in most of the common application systems.

  • Use white space and line breaks to separate topics and sections
  • Use 10- or 12-point type size
  • Use a margin of at least one inch on all sides
  • Use CAPITAL LETTERS to highlight sections
  • No graphics of any kind, including bullets
  • Use date format mm-yyyy (example: “May1988” would be “05-1988”)
  • No bold, italic, or underlined text
  • Keep each employment block (duties and accomplishments) to about 3,000 characters and spaces each. (Note: If you must exceed this count, you can break up a job into two separate entries when you file your application online.)

Professionally Written Federal Resumes, KSAs, ECQs, and Cover Letters

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