Tips for Writing a Federal Resume

By Valerie Kielmovitch

USAJOBS2Applying for federal jobs is not a quick and easy process.  It takes time and patience to ensure your resume is ready and tailored to specific available positions.  To begin this process, I suggest you create a profile on  This website is where the majority of federal positions are listed.

A federal resume is typically anywhere from two to five pages in length and encompasses general and specialized skill sets you have obtained throughout your education and experiences.  In the past, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities statements (KSAs) were a separate document that had to be written, but now they should be intertwined in your federal resume.

Once logged into the USAJobs system, you have the option to ‘Build New Resume’ or ‘Upload New Resume.’  You can store up to five resumes in the system.  If you choose to build a resume in the system, it will take you through several pages to complete, including elaborating on your experiences, education, and references.  Upon finishing, you can preview and even print the document for your records.

Ways to make your federal resume standout from other applicants:

  • Read the description thoroughly and tailor your resume based on the requirements and duties in the position.
  • As mentioned above, integrate your KSAs within the document.
  • Highlight your specialized skills and how they relate to the position.  Human Resources (HR) managers receive an overwhelming number of resumes and ensuring your document stands out from the rest is imperative.
  • Add keywords from the position announcement found in the mission, duties, and qualifications sections to align your resume with what the hiring manager is seeking.
  • Provide examples demonstrating your experiences within the field in which you are applying.  Highlighting past performance assists in proving good future work performance.
  • If able, really highlight your specialized experience on the first page of your resume, so HR is drawn to your document, which should entice them to continue reading the document.
  • Ensure the resume is easy to read and well formatted.  Spelling and grammatical mistakes could easily eliminate you from the candidate pool.

The biggest difference between a business resume and federal resume is the length.  However, a federal resume should be very detailed and descriptive to help HR ensure you fit the criteria and grade level of the position you seek in the federal government.

Prior to submitting your application, ensure you have provided all documents requested in the position announcement. Continue to monitor federal job postings as application timelines vary in length, and some are even a week at the most.

Remember to use your resources such as the Career Services website and the EagleHire Network.  Having others read over your resume prior to submitting will help catch any mistakes.

Valerie Kielmovitch has been working as a Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2010.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina.  Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.

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