Federal Resume Tips: How To Write A Federal Resume

Heidi Cope
by Heidi Cope
Get The Job - 5 months ago

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“Applying for a federal job?”

Working in the federal government can be a great experience, but landing the job takes a different type of approach than a typical private-sector job. If you are applying for a federal job and have never written a federal resume, don’t assume your previous resumes will be fine to submit. A federal resume is highly specific and is structured differently than most resumes.

The federal application and hiring process is different than many others. For a federal job, your way to writing the actual application and getting an interview is your resume. Your resume is how they can be sure you meet the standards and qualifications listed for the job before they proceed any further with the application.

If you are applying for a federal job and are writing a federal resume, here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you qualify for the job and can meet every requirement.
  • Make each resume job-specific and tailor your job experience to address the requirements for the job.
  • Use the USA JOBS resume template to be sure it’s in the correct format.

Ready to get started?

How To Write a Federal Resume


When writing a federal resume, don’t write it based on the rules you’ve learned about writing resumes in the past. Crafting a federal resume is a completely different process and some aspects might even surprise you.

The first thing you should make sure is that you are qualified for the position. Federal jobs have specific requirements and with the volume of applicants, they can be very competitive positions.

If you are not a U.S. Citizen or a citizen of the country you are applying for a federal job, then you should double-check that you meet the requirements. Many federal jobs require security clearances, some of which are limited to citizens.

Many federal jobs have preference for veterans. If you have served in active duty for the military, then you can check veterans preference boxes on the application. Once you have read through the job description and confirmed you meet all of the requirements, it’s time to sit down and write the resume.

federal resume

Crafting a Job History On a Federal Resume

Before you start writing, here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid using acronyms and jargon. Use language that can be understood by anyone reading your resume.
  • Use numbers to quantify your achievements.
  • Make each resume job-specific.


Now, let’s begin talking about how to write a federal resume. You need to make sure that your experiences and skills meet all the job requirements listed on the application.

If the job is asking for three years of experience, you need to have that shown under your work history with details about how the jobs you’ve had meet those qualifications. When they are asking for three years of experience, federal job recruiters often mean three years worth of full-time employment.

To prove you have the required number of hours of experience, add the number of hours you worked per week on the job history section for each experience. There is a big difference in experience in someone who has worked 40 hours a week as a project manager for three years than someone who has worked 15 hours a week in the same role.

Next, detail out how each job experience you list checks off one or more of the requirements listed on the application. When recruiters are reading through resumes, they will be looking specifically for these requirements.

One way to make your resume stand out to a recruiters eyes and to make it pass computer-based resume sorting is to use keywords. Utilize the job description and requirements to find the keywords the hiring managers are looking for. Resumes are often electronically sorted and the computer systems are looking for specific keywords. Which keywords? The ones listed in the job application.

Finally, for each position you include on a federal resume, highlight your deliverables. How well can you do your job? Use numbers to make tangible deliverables for your work. A federal resume does not need to be light, abstract and fluffy. Make it clear and concise what you have accomplished.

Other Specifics to Include On a Federal Resume


A federal resume must include all the parts of a standard resume: Career summary/objective, work history, and education. But what else should you include?

Other things you should highlight on a federal resume are languages and professional publications. If you are applying to a job in the research field, adding your publications can help show your deliverables as a researcher.

Add any job-related training that helps you with any of the qualifications listed on the application. Make sure you list dates associated with the training and which institution you got them from.

You can also mention relevant volunteer and extracurricular activities that can strengthen your application.

How Long Should a Federal Resume Be?


As you have probably noticed while reading this article, federal resumes are very detail-oriented. So naturally, a federal resume can be longer than the standard one-page resume.

If you are applying for a job that has many requirements, it might take a few pages to detail out the experience you have to fit those qualifications. For someone with many years of experience, a federal resume could easily be more than three pages long.

But remember: Don’t just list everything on your resume because it’s acceptable for the resume to be longer than one page. Use the space to detail out how you specifically meet the requirements listed in the job description.

Federal Resume Example


On a federal resume, some of the sections are written the same as a typical resume. Your education section will look the same, for example.

One major difference in a federal resume, compared to a typical resume, is how the work history section is written. Under each position, you will need to write your title, hours worked per week, sometimes your salary, and then have a detailed section explaining your duties and deliverables. If you won any awards pertaining to that job, you will add it to the bottom of that section.

Sometimes, you will even add the information for your manager at the bottom of each work section for the recruiter to call for recommendations.

Here is an example of one section:

Captain of Raleigh Police
Raleigh, NC
08/2017-07/2019
40 hrs/week
Salary: $45,000

Led and supervised a security team for the NC governor.
Organized logistical support and security for the Governor’s Mansion, which included over 40 state employees.
Implemented new surveillance methods to improve the security of the governor and captured 15% more potential incidents over two years, compared to previous methods.

Contact: Amy Smith, Deputy Chief of Raleigh Police. (555)-555-5555.


The example above is a basic format used in a federal resume. The resume becomes more detailed with more experience and skills to discuss for each work history section.

Federal Resume Template


A federal resume is highly-specific in format, so the best route to take when writing a federal resume is using a premade template that you know meets the requirements for submission.

One of the best ways to ensure that your resume meets the submission requirements and fills out all the required fields correctly is to use the templates provided by the federal job sites.

For U.S. federal job templates, you can use the resume builder tool on USA JOBS. Once you open your account with USA JOBS and begin seeking potential jobs, you can fill out your resume using their specific resume builder.

Time To Write The Perfect Federal Resume


Applying for federal jobs can be stressful. There are so many details to keep in mind and the process can be completely different than any job application you have filled out before.

Luckily, there are a ton of resources to help you. Combine a well-reputable federal resume builder with the tips and tricks listed in this article and you will be well on your way to crafting the perfect federal resume for your next job hunt.

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