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How to Write a Federal Resume for USAJobs

Expert Advice on How to Write a Federal Resume


When it comes to a task you dread doing, like writing a federal resume, getting started is the hardest part. So many clients are frustrated with how to write a federal resume in the same way. Whether it is cleaning your house, writing that term paper, making a doctor’s appointment, or writing your resume, there are a million things we can find to do in order to procrastinate doing it. Well, I am going to share an easy way to get started. I promise it won’t be painful.
So, a resume is made up of several main sections: education, training, professional experience, and usually an introduction. There are other sections depending on your background. You may have Professional Affiliations, Volunteer Work, or Published Works as well.


I save the introduction and professional experience for last and start with the easiest things first. Education is probably one of the easiest section. All you have to do is list where you went to school and what degree you were seeking. Very simple. Don’t worry where it’s going to go or if the font you picked is perfect, just get it down.
Once you get all of those easier sections down on paper, it’s time to start your professional experience. By the time you get to this section, the resume may already be longer than what you’d like. Don’t worry about it yet. This is not the time to start editing. Just keep writing. Don’t even worry about making it look pretty yet (although I have a hard time with this only because I enjoy that part).


The first step is to get a rough estimate of the timeline of your life. Make a rough outline of where you worked, for how long and when. Don’t list any of your duties yet. So, when you’re finished you should have a list of where you worked and the address of that place. Once you have that list completed, it’s time to go back in and enter the details of your duties. This is when it really gets fun.


Start with your most recent position first and brainstorm a list of all of your duties or responsibilities while you worked in that job. It might look like this:

Supervisor of 12
Policy Enforcement
Budget Forecasting
Communication with Senior Military
You may easily have a list of 10 to 20 “hats” that you wear in your job. Don’t THINK too much about this when you’re trying to get them all down. This is called brainstorming. It’s not editing yet!


OK, wasn’t that easy? Now, look back at your list and see if there are any “hats” that can be combined. For example, if you have Training and also Safety Classes, you could combine those two. Another example might be Safety and OSHA Standards. You just want to get your list into a manageable number of duties.


Next, you’re going to visualize the job you are going to use this resume to apply for. You may even want to find a sample job announcement. Think about the kinds of skills and qualifications necessary for that dream job and go back to your list. Which one of the duties would be THE MOST applicable to the kind of job you want to get? Put a #1 next to it. Then figure out what is the second most important, and third most important. Go through and number each of your duties with its significance in getting you your next job.
Once you have completed all of these steps you are ready to start writing.


Under each of your jobs, you should have a list of “hats” or duties that you were responsible for. Let’s take each of those, expand on it and write three to four lines about it.

DEVELOPED LOCAL POLICY TO SUPPORT OPNAVINST 1720.4A. Led consortium of 15 Suicide Prevention Coordinators, selected by each command on base, to develop localized version of OPNAVINST aimed at identifying specific procedures for suicidal individuals. This included understanding signs and symptoms of individuals considering suicide, as well as what to say or not to say, who to contact, and where to go when providing intervention.


If you develop short paragraphs to support each one of your main duties, you may have several short paragraphs adding up to a lengthy job description for each of your jobs. You may be worried that this will make your resume too long. Don’t be. A federal resume is usually MUCH longer than the civilian resume. It’s typical that it is at least four pages long, mostly longer for someone with any experience.


Once you have all of the sections completed, you may go back and edit. The nice thing about a federal resume is that you don’t have to format it like a civilian resume. For most federal jobs, you will be using USAJobs to apply. USAJobs is a database where you can either upload or build your resume in their resume builder. Some clients have argued that they want to upload their resume into the system. I don’t recommend doing that. I recommend using the builder. When you use the builder, you don’t have much of an option to format your resume, but using the ALL CAPS as I have demonstrated above helps your resume stay easy to scan and most importantly ORGANIZED!

To see a sample of a Federal Resume, click here. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me….

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