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Federal Resume Advice


Eric Taylor Salisbury, MD

Does anyone have any experience with converting their regular resume into a Federal Resume?

2 June 2015 5 replies Resumes & Cover Letters



Kelly Williams Newark, DE

Mr. Taylor,

We use two different formats for corporate and federal applications. I can send you examples of each to get you started.

Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Thank you for your service.

Warmest Regards,

Kelly Williams
Career Strategist & President
Security Cleared Careers
Expert Resume Solutions
Business: (732) 686-6455

Job Board:


Tom Cal, CFA San Francisco, CA

* Do not convert your resume. Start from scratch when building a federal resume.

* Get one on one, person to person assistance from a federal hiring expert. This discussion provides information from ~20 of Veteran Mentor Network's 84,000+ members, about where you can obtain one-on-one assistance.

"Where can Veterans and/or Servicemembers obtain person-to-person help learning how to teach themselves about the Federal Hiring Process and Federal Resumes? Same question for state, and local hiring."!

"Hands down, the Veteran's Representatives at the employment offices will have first line of communication and established relationships with federal agencies and classes held.

Another resource might be one of the non-profit agencies, like Hire Our Heroes. That agency has more of a presence and volunteer base than in Washington State. I will send you a PM with more information."


Kelly Ross Blake Naperville, IL

The primary difference between your civilian resume and your federal resume will be the level of detail you include. Civilian resumes are generally limited to 1-2 pages (or 1 page per 10 years' professional experience, tops); however the federal resume needs to be as long as necessary to convey your qualifications for the position. Nothing will be assumed by HR on the federal resume, so you have to spell it all out for them!

Start with your civilian resume. Now look at the 'Build Your Resume' option on USAjobs and see the additional info they require (e.g., salary, dates of employment, supervisor's name, etc.). Next, look at the PD for the job you want -- specifically, the Duties, Qualifications, and Competencies / Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA's) sections. Add details so that your federal resume reflects your ability to perform the duties required of the position you are applying for, as delineated in these sections. Next, look for the supplementary list of questions that you are asked to complete during the application process (look for where it says, "To preview questions please click here"). Address these questions in your federal resume as well.

The thing to remember with the federal application though, is that the more experience you have = the more points you get, so don't be afraid to be repetitive (answer all the who-what-when-where-why-how questions, then add the quantitative to-what-degree, at-what-level, and for-what-result info). Be honest, but be thorough. And also don't forget to include dates of employment / service: HR won't count any experience that doesn't have a designated time period.

Feel free to email with questions.
Thank you for your service, and best regards.


William (Liam) Hickey Chicago, IL

Eric, federal govt. applications are all about getting points. The more keywords your resume contains, the more points you get. Last I checked, only the top 3 point totals get interviews. In federal govt. applications, you *want* to repeat those keywords . . . all over the place.

One of my clients had no govt. experience yet beat out everyone with preference points for an interview (and eventually got the job) as a project manager. He wrote his job descriptions by starting each (relelvant) bullet on his resume with "As a project manager, . . . ." He racked up a ton of points doing this.

A federal govt. recruiter has to follow strict rules in evaluating applications, because the govt. wants to remove bias from the process. This means that they need to total up keywords and check off boxes for required years of experience and any certifications. Make these elements in your experience OBVIOUS and easy to find on your resume.

The Federal Resume Guidebook (Troutman) has been the go-to book for federal applications for many years. Check it out.


PS You will also want to separate your the tasks you did from the accomplishments you achieved in each job, which is generally different from a private-sector resume.


Deb Miller Bardstown, KY

Eric, my best recommendation is to search for jobs you enjoy doing through Once you find several, review your resume as if you were the selecting official for that job. What verbiage did they use to describe this job that clearly is your expertise, but written in "federal 'eeze"? Rewrite your outstanding experience in that verbiage. This way, you transform your experience into federal lingo. You will no doubt find several jobs on usajobs that are a perfect fit for your experience. Don't forget to check out their advice for veterans. This I have found extremely helpful in the entire application through interview process. Also, please check out Bottom of the page - we always have jobs posted. We are a great federal agency, great place to work! Eric, thank you so very much for your service!!!! Connect with me anytime if you want a second set of eyes to review your resume.

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