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Building Your Federal Resume

A woman takes a federal resume quiz

A federal government job is often a great transition for military personnel, but a resume for a federal job is different from a civilian resume. It’s longer, more detailed and includes specific job-related terminology. Follow these resume tips and build your resume using the Resume Builder at USAJobs:

  • Collect your assets. Make sure you have these things gathered:
    • Contact information for your former supervisors
    • Performance appraisals
    • Awards
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Military documentation like your DD214, ACE transcripts and Verification of Military Experience and Training
    • Any additional information that could help you stand out as an applicant
  • Create a master resume that includes your work history, skills, accomplishments, volunteer work and training. Edit it for accuracy and clarity.
  • Use the federal agency’s online resume builder.
    • Copy and paste sections from your master resume into the online resume builder website of the federal agency that you are applying to.
    • You can also create a hard copy of your resume if a federal agency requires one.
  • Choose your words carefully.
    • Human resources staff, or a computer program, will scan your resume for job-related keywords and phrases.
    • Incorporate keywords and phrases from the “Duties” or “Qualifications” section of the job vacancy notice into the “Work History” section of your resume.
  • Fill in the details.
    • Showcase details that demonstrate your past responsibilities and your work ethic.
    • Use numbers to quantify your accomplishments. Point out, for example, that you “reduced department expenses by 30% in the first six months.”
  • Check spelling and accuracy. 
    • Proofread your resume.
    • Have a friend or family member proofread it.
    • Find a federal employee or someone with human resources experience to review your resume, if possible.
    • Read your resume backward to catch spelling or typos.
  • Submit your resume and follow up. Make sure the receiving agency received your resume. Follow the agency’s policies and timelines to check the status.

Here’s more help

  • Most federal jobs are listed on the federal government’s USAJOBS site. The site also lets you create an account and online profile, and save your job searches.
  • Feds Hire Vets is operated by the Office of Personnel Management. It has lots of good intel about federal employment for veterans and transitioning service members.
  • Your installation’s Transition Assistance Program has more information and employment support.

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