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Tips for Writing a Federal Resume

Creating a federal resume that brings your qualifications to life and shows that you are a perfect fit for the job can be a challenge. The federal resume can either open doors or eliminate you from the running. Be sure to demonstrate how your skills, experience, training and education match the employer's needs. Avoid misspelled words and bad grammar. Few of us like to write and even fewer enjoy writing about themselves, but it is something you have to do if you want to succeed. Following are a few ways to make this easier.

Prepare

Attend job assistance training prior to departing the service. Contact your Transition Assistance Center as soon as possible and sign up for a TAP Workshop. If you are not near a Military Transition Center, you may use the services at Transition Assistance Offices operated by the other military services. Use your transition counselors. They have the tools and knowledge you need. If available, get their help in creating your first resume or filling out a draft application. Ask them to critique your work and then make the changes they suggest.

Focus

Set an objective and identify the kind of jobs you are interested in. How you present your skills and experience in your resume will help determine whether or not you are invited to interview for a job.

Tailor

One size never fits all. Do not assume that you can use one resume for many jobs. If you do, you will not succeed. As you apply for jobs, tailor your resume to the employer's requirements. It is important to portray yourself as a "doer" whose skills match the requirements of the position and demonstrate the ability to do the job. This is easy to do when you include results, achievements and accomplishments.

Translate

Minimize the use of military terminology, abbreviations, acronyms or jargon in your resume.

Format

Resumes are generally presented in one of three formats: chronological, functional or a combination of chronological and functional. While your counselor can help you to select the format that will best display your abilities, which you choose will depend, in part, on the type of work you have performed and whether or not you are going to continue to do the same work.

  • Chronological resumes list work experience according to date, with the current job appearing first. Chronological resumes work well if your career has been progressive and you plan to continue in the same line of work.
  • Functional resumes are organized by the skills you have used on the job. Functional resumes work well if you are contemplating a new career, do not have a lengthy work history, or have held a number of different positions because they sell your abilities based on the skills you have acquired during your career.
  • Combination resumes both describe your work experience and highlight your skills. Combination resumes usually provide the most comprehensive overview of your career.

Content

The federal resume must include information that is not needed in the private sector. Your federal resume should include the following:

  • Job announcement number, job title, and job grade of the job for which you are applying
  • Your full name, mailing address, day and evening phone numbers and home e-mail.
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Country of citizenship
  • Veterans Preference - List your Veterans Preference points. Ensure that you attach or upload supporting documentation (e.g., DD214 or Statement of Service if still on Active Duty; SF-15, Application for 10-point preference; and Disability Rating Letter of 30% or more from the VA, if applicable).
  • Education - Include: college name, city, state, zip code, majors, type and year of degrees held or number of semester hours completed, and high school name, city, state, zip code, and date of your diploma or GED, if requested. Keep in mind that your military training may qualify you. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document (DD Form 2586), is the best place to start your training and education inventory.
  • Work experience (paid and unpaid) - Include: job title; duties and accomplishments; employer's name and address, including zip code; supervisor's name and phone number, starting and ending dates (month and year); hours per week; and salary. List each experience as a separate entry on the resume. Forget about military job titles or occupational codes. Instead, look at what you did. Your VMET document is a great place to start. Employers prefer proven performers, so make sure you know what employers are looking for in comparison to your military work experience.
  • Indicate if your current supervisor can be contacted.
  • Job-related training courses (title and year).
  • Job-related knowledge or skills - Showing how your skills fit the company's requirements starts with an extensive inventory. Skills fall into three categories:
    1. self-management skills refer to the way you manage yourself on the job (e.g., dependable, resourceful, etc.);
    2. functional skills are the skills you use on the job or have used in previous jobs (e.g., operate equipment, supervise, analyze, etc.); and
    3. technical skills relate to specific skills required to perform a described task (e.g., computer programming, accounting, sales, etc.)
  • Current job-related certificates and licenses - Make sure you understand the licensure and certification requirements for your job objective.
  • Job-related honors, awards, special accomplishments, leadership activities, memberships, or publications.

Appearance

Once you have spell checked your resume, take a good look at its overall appearance. Is it appealing and easy to read? Is there enough white space? Are the margins appropriate? Have the headings, font and formatting style been used effectively? Keep in mind that your resume is an employer's first impression of you. Make sure it makes the best one possible.

Remember
  • Review the job announcements carefully for key words.
  • Use verbs and adjectives (e.g., managed, implemented, created) that match key words identified in the job announcement.
  • Eliminate military lingo (use words such as personnel instead of squad or platoon).
  • Include your accomplishments; do not be shy, be truthful.
  • Focus on the mission of the agency and translate your experiences.
  • Your positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm goes a long way.

 

Last Published Date: October 30, 2014
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