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Drafting a Federal Resume

The Federally formatted resume is several pages in length, placed as a text file into an online resume builder (for most agencies), and is highly targeted to the job for which you are applying. Read on to learn how to analyze a job announcement for keywords, competencies, and Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), and compose a resume that meets the qualifying requirements…

By Diane Hudson Burns

Once you open an account with USAJOBS.GOV (the Federal government’s official employment website), you can post your resume, apply for federal jobs, and search for open vacancy announcements (of course, you can search for open vacancy announcements without opening an account, but you cannot apply for jobs using a USAJOBS resume without an account).

In your account, you will move through several different screens that will gather your personal profile information, and then you will enter screens to post your resume. Each employment block allows for 3,000 characters of writing (which should be geared closely to the major duties on the announcement) for an average of six jobs, in addition to education, training, publications, languages, licenses, awards, and “other” which may include a profile summary and other skill sets (up to 20,000 characters). The federal resume also requires your social security number, supervisors’ names and phone numbers, salary, full employment addresses, GPA and number of credits for college, high school, and other items you may not find on a corporate style resume.

Federal Resume Formatting and Federal Elements
The Federal online resume format is a text file document void of enhancements (no underlines, no bullets, no tabs, no bolding, no italics, and no use of any special characters—which means stick to the basic characters on the keyboard that do not require you to use a shift key). So, to help the appearance of the Federal resume, use capital letters as headers or “lead ins” to short paragraphs. And, to further help the reader, review the announcement carefully, highlight keywords and competencies, and create your paragraphs to provide accomplishments to meet the requirements in the announcement. (Please note, there are exceptions, and for some agencies you may still need a “hard copy” federally formatted resume – it will require all of the federal elements on the text version, but you can use enhancements and print the document for mailing or faxing).

Matching Your Experience to the Major Job Duties
Here is a summary description of job duties for a Supply Technician from a USAJOBS.GOV job vacancy announcement; key competencies and skills are highlighted:

Provides day-to-day guidance and operational oversight for professional subordinates and technical employees that deal with Worldwide Operations. The incumbent plans, directs, and coordinates supply operations including functions such as inventory management, acquisition, warehouse, traffic management, utilization, and disposal. Responsible for material management, implementations, and operation of the supply program, stock record control, requirements requisition processing, micro purchase, simplified acquisition, research/catalog. Establishes guidelines, interprets directives, and general policies issued by higher authority. Renders technical advice to management staff and subordinates in solving material management problems. Write policy and procedures on material management. Plans, schedules, coordinates, and monitors the effectiveness of supply operations. Assigns work based on priorities, reviews and evaluates work.

The words marked in yellow indicate the competencies, skills, and knowledge required for this position. And as you can see, there are a number of knowledge, skills, and abilities required in this announcement. If your background, experience, and credentials do not match up, then you may not qualify for this position.

Writing Your Accomplishments to Match
Below are short sample paragraphs that describe the candidate’s duties and accomplishments, directly related to the job posting above:

Some Key Competencies and Skill Sets from the announcement are highlighted below in red in sample resume entries:

(EXAMPLES): Guaranteed daily objectives and store performance by implementing tactical business initiatives. Supervised all aspects of logistics from sales and operations to inventory management and loss prevention. Prioritized work; managed and evaluated performance for a staff of 100. Oversaw store staffing and training, reviewed daily coverage schedules and payroll compliance, and analyzed weekly labor reports. Promoted leadership and team cohesion through weekly meetings and daily guidance. Succeeded in Profit and Loss management and store turnaround. Monitored supply and demand conditions including seasonal sales.

MATERIAL MANAGEMENT, IMPLEMENTATIONS, AND OPERATION OF THE SUPPLY PROGRAM / MANAGED MERCHANDISING, STOCKING, AND WAREHOUSE REQUIREMENTS: (EXAMPLES): Designed a balanced scorecard and price variance report. Conducted inventory surveys and identified high-yielding and best-selling products and placed such products at the front of the store. Conducted investigations of overall sales and operations.

TRAINING PROGRAM AND STAFF DEVELOPMENT: Boosted productivity from 52 to 124 cases per hour, in 90 days, through implementation of a targeted training program.

MANAGEMENT ADVISOR / DEVELOPED RECOMMENDATIONS: Restructured warehouse and trucking operations to increase output efficiency. Monitored inventory and seasonal trends and forecasted transport of large seasonal orders.


PROBLEMS RESOLUTION / REALIGNMENT AND TRANSFORMATION: Restructured ramp operations in six airports. Analyzed and resolved problems related to supply, inventory movement, and transportation managing the 20% increase in inventory.

Obviously, you cannot address every skill set and competency listed in the vacancy announcement; but certainly try to group skill sets and competencies in your responses, by using solid results (whenever possible, qualify and quantify accomplishments and results or use comparisons), under CAPPED headings, noting key competencies from the announcement, as cited above.

Making the Switch from Corporate to Federal
The above entries are for private sector employees seeking federal. Start writing your federal resume by gathering a long list of your most notable career accomplishments, develop and qualify or quantify results, and build your stories to describe how you attained the results to your accomplishments.

Carefully read each vacancy announcement and highlight keywords, competencies, and skill sets—and match your experience to the required skill sets. And you will be on your way to composing your federal resume.