With millions of Americans competing for jobs in an extremely limited market, one simply has to be “in it to win it,” and a clear, concise resume is your first chance to get off the sidelines, and into the game.
Try thinking of your resume like a handshake, and as your first opportunity to convince someone they need to get to know you. Much like your handshake, your resume needs to be firm, inviting and have just the right amount of pressure.
Despite the struggling economy and dismal job market, the nation’s largest employer routinely hires thousands of new employees every year for entry-level positions. Boasting 1.7 million employees, the government offers jobs in over 400 different career fields.
To be considered for employment with the government, your resume must be clear, concise, and absolutely perfect to make its way through a tough federal screening process. With over 100 different agencies comprising the government, each job posting typically requires different skill-sets and qualifications, so tailor your resume to each particular job you are applying for.
Kathryn Troutman, a leading federal resume expert and author of “Ten Steps to a Federal Job” offers the following five tips when creating a resume for a federal job:
- Competition is fierce for federal employment and anywhere from 200-500 people could apply for one single position. Federal screeners are more concerned with the last 10 years of work history, so focus on that, and leave out short or temporary periods of employment in insignificant jobs.
- Examine the job posting carefully. Each specific posting calls for its own set of qualifications, so make sure to highlight accomplishments and experience relevant to the job. Include industry awards and honors, and be specific when highlighting your skills. For example, if a particular posting asks for math skills, be detailed about your experience with successfully managing and meeting budgetary guidelines, as well as listing experience with record-keeping and logical abilities.
- Be on the lookout for important keywords in the job posting. Oftentimes, the posting is lengthy and confusing, so read through it carefully and look for keywords. If the job posting lists “management skills” routinely throughout the posting, be sure to include specific management skills in your resume, and use all capital letters when including those keywords in your resume.
- KSAs – Knowledge, skills and abilities. KSAs are an important part of federal applications, and job postings will routinely require KSAs. For example, if the KSA lists “ability to communicate in writing” your response should detail your knowledge of writing, the specific skills you possess, and your abilities to complete writing tasks effectively.
- Sell yourself! With hundreds of people competing for a single job, your resume needs to specifically convey what you can add to the team. Don’t be afraid to give yourself credit where it is due, Troutman says. Make sure the KSAs and the self-assessment questionnaires match the resume and also match the job posting. Search the internet for sample federal resumes and pay close attention to the details, important dates and salary and work history. Troutman also advises to use the resume builders at usajobs.gov, and always follow up after applying for a job.
Thousands of federal jobs are posted each and every year, and Troutman said job-seekers should apply for at least 1-2 per week.