Unleash Your Potential: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Federal Resume that Gets Results

A typical resume may not be sufficient for securing a job in the Federal sector. You need a federal resume when applying for .gov or US Federal government agencies job, e.g.  Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, etc.
To increase your success chances in the Federal job application process, it is highly recommended to use specific templates that follow government requirements. That’s because a Federal resume has distinct requirements compared to a conventional resume, and not including essential information may hinder an applicant’s chances of being considered for a government job. Additionally deviating from these templates may put you at a disadvantage compared to candidates who followed the proper format. The process can be complex, so adhering to the guidelines is crucial.
The Federal job provides the required information for the application process, e.g. including specific resume formatting guidelines, the key duties and responsibilities of the position, and the necessary qualifications for the applicant. A well-crafted Federal resume must adhere to the requirements outlined in the job announcement to ensure a fair evaluation. Customizing the resume to align with the specific job posting is crucial for success. In case the target job link is not available, kindly request it in your initial correspondence.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a Federal Resume for Government sector jobs.
Personal Details (Header)
Unlike a conventional resume, a Federal resume requires the inclusion of additional personal information. This information should be placed at the beginning of the document and includes:
  • Full name: this should be your legal name (don’t use any nicknames).
  • Mailing or postal address (unless the job posting advises otherwise).
  • Your current phone number with area code.
  • Email address.
  • Country of citizenship.
  • Veterans’ preference (You can find this at ): http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/vets/vetpref/mservice.htm
  • For current/former Federal employees: pay plan, series, grade, dates of service (from-to), and ICTAP (reinstatement) eligibility.
  • Do not include the LinkedIn address or other social media accounts.
Qualifications Summary
A federal resume does not require a traditional qualifications summary. Instead, the related skills are incorporated into the work history section. The summary is most effective if it is brief and focused on the big-picture highlights of your skills.
Here’s a concise summary for a program manager with expertise in aerospace and weapons systems.
Broad-based experience and proven technical expertise in design, development, operation, and problem solving for sophisticated defense aerospace aircraft and weapon systems. Strong background in defense systems product design, development, test, and evaluation. Excel at planning, budgeting, scheduling, and managing defense aerospace programs. Proven history of completing two Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited engineering programs.
Work Experience
This section is a little more detailed. You must include the following:
  • Your name and city/state (country if outside of the US).
  • Formal job title (if functional job titles are used, be sure to include the formal title as well).
  • Starting and ending dates (month and year).
  • Average hours worked per week.
  • Supervisor’s name and telephone number.
  • Series, pay plan, grade (for Federal positions)
There are a few agencies that require salary or full employer addresses.
To avoid gaps in employment history, recent but unrelated experience should be included in the Federal resume, although with less detail. As with standard resumes, experience older than 10-15 years may be listed in a separate section without dates.
Job Descriptions & Achievements
The standard guidelines for length don’t apply to Federal resumes; the max length for each job description is 5000 characters. Use paragraph and bullet approach to highlight achievements. The Federal resume must demonstrate how your experience meets every required qualification listed in the job announcement. To achieve this, include concrete examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to perform the job responsibilities at the required level.
For example, if the job posting mentions “vulnerability assessments” and “MS SharePoint”, the resume must have those exact words. Similarly, if the job posting lists “developing recruitment strategies” as a major duty, the resume needs to outline how you have developed recruitment strategies.
If you have done graduation recently, list your education before the work experience section. If you don’t have a graduation degree, list education after work experience. This section should be no more than 2000 characters (including spaces). Along with your degree also include:
  • Only include the most recent and relevant degrees and avoid including older dates that could reveal your age unless specifically requested in the job description.
  • [Degree and Major, Institution Name], [City, State], [Year]
  • Relevant post-degree education for any programs (completed or not) that included 24 or more semester/quarter hours.
Job-related Training
Include recent and relevant professional training courses and programs. Only include training that adds value to the candidate’s qualifications for the job. Avoid including training on outdated programs or courses that could reveal the candidate’s age (e.g., a course in Microsoft Office 95).
Optional Sections
For Federal resumes, it is important to include all relevant information and there are no limitations on length.
  • References.
  • Languages (including proficiency level for Spoken/Written/Read).
  • Affiliations (name and role).
  • Publications (5000 characters max, including spaces).
Additional Information:
  • Job-related certifications and licenses
  • Honors and awards
  • Leadership experiences and activities
  • Relevant skills, such as computer software proficiency or typing speed
  • Any other information required by the job announcement is not covered in the experience section.
  • You can find our Federal Resume Templates here.
A few tips:
  • Utilize ample space and longer blocks of text to thoroughly explain relevant duties and responsibilities.
  • Maintain a neat and conservative presentation style.
  • Emphasize content over stylistic elements and limit their usage.

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