7 Steps to Create and Submit a Federal Resume

Computer screen with resume displayed

So, you'd like a federal civilian job. If you've just separated from the military, chances are your resume could use an overhaul — it's probably time to remove "Fifth Grade Spelling Bee Champ" from your accomplishments section. Or, perhaps you're starting a resume from scratch. Either way, before you begin filling out applications, it's important to get your resume in tip-top shape. This is prime time to create a federal resume.

A federal resume is different from a civilian or corporate resume-it's longer, more detailed and includes specific job-related terminology. Follow these steps to build your resume and pursue a federal civilian job:

1. Get organized.

Before you sit down to type, gather:

  • 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

2. Create a master resume.


more about the benefits of federal employment and tips for navigating the hiring system.

You can build a master resume that includes your work history, skills, accomplishments, volunteer work and training. Be sure to edit it for accuracy and clarity. You can then copy and paste sections from your master resume into the online resume builder website of the federal agency that you are applying to. Or, you can easily create a hard copy of your resume if a federal agency requires one.

3. Choose your words carefully.

A human resources staff member — or a computer — will likely scan your resume for job-related key words and phrases. To help your resume make the initial cut, go back and incorporate key words and phrases from the “Duties” or “Qualifications” section of the job vacancy notice into the “Work History” section of your resume.

4. Fill in the details


USAJOBS to find your new job.

When you list your work experience, share details that demonstrate your past responsibilities and your work ethic. Whenever possible, use numbers to quantify your accomplishments. Point out, for example, that you “reduced department expenses by 30 percent in the first six months.”

5. Get a second opinion.

It’s easy to miss simple errors when you read through your own work, especially after you’ve been staring at your computer screen for a long time. Recruit another pair of eyes to check your resume for clarity. If you can get a federal employee or someone with human resource management experience to review your resume, that’s even better.

6. Submit your resume and follow up on it.


your interview.

Once you submit your resume, the ball isn’t necessarily out of your court yet. Follow up to make sure that the receiving agency actually received your resume. Then, follow the agency’s policies and timelines to check the status of the position you applied for.

7. Stay in motion.

One resume out there in the world is great progress, but it’s not a sure thing. While you wait to hear back from an agency, keep your eyes and ears open for other job opportunities. Continue to apply for other positions.

You can jumpstart your quest for federal employment with a solid resume. Your resume is an opportunity to sell yourself to your future employers, and putting your best foot forward should be your number one priority. Increase your chances of landing an interview by keeping these seven steps in mind. And now that you know what a federal resume is, it’s time to get busy building and submitting yours.


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