Applying to work for the federal government is quite a different process than applying to work for most other employers. It's a decentralized process with some centralized components and a host of additional regulations that you won't find in other industries. You will need to invest time in learning about individual agencies and be flexible with their application requirements, assessment tactics and background checks. Most federal positions must be advertised on USAJobs but some Pathways Internship and Recent Graduate opportunities, unpaid or volunteer, attorney, veterans, disability, “Sch-A”, “Sch-C” and Administratively Determined (AD) positions may not be listed on there.
Federal resumes differ from typical one-page resumes in both their length and also their depth of information. The key to writing a federal resume is to be both concise and comprehensive. For college students and young alumni, it is typical to have a federal resume that is two-to-four pages long.
You will need a new federal resume for each position you apply to because different agencies and administrations prefer different formats and you will want to tailor each resume to the description in the Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA) for which you are applying.
There are two main ways to create a federal resume:
- Use the USAJobs’ resume builder tool. This will help you put your information into a standard template that government human resources staff and hiring managers are used to seeing. By using the builder, you will not be missing any information that federal agencies look for in the first steps of their screening and selection process.
- Build a federal resume in your own using a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This gives you more flexibility to format and tailor your descriptions to a specific JOA or a position not listed on USAJOBS. You will also be able to upload a PDF version of your resume into USAJOBS applications and have this copy handy for alternative application platforms (e.g., Avue) and email submissions.
Getting Started on Your Federal Resume
Here are a few resources to help you write your federal resume.
- Tips for Federal Resumes
- GoGovernment's Create Your Federal Resume - includes a sample federal resume and advice about what to include.
- GoGovernment's Federal Resume Writing Tips - more hints and a simple checklist for your resume.
Focus on the aspects of your experiences that best demonstrate your qualifications for a given position.
- Education and Research Experience (only for Georgetown University students)
- Work, Volunteer or Internship Experience (only for Georgetown University students)
- GovLoop Rock Your Resume Infographic
- GovLoop 10 Steps to Letting Federal Employers Know Your Worth Infographic
Occupational/Application Questionnaires and Other Materials
Federal agencies use application or occupational questionnaires as additional assessment tools to screen candidates. Answering the questions confidently is key to having your application considered. The quality and effectiveness of these assessments varies widely.
- GoGovernment’s Application Questionnaires, Essays & Other Materials
- Avue Central Tips for Preparing Your Application
Additional Guidance for Federal Opportunities
Presidential Management Fellows
- Official website of the Presidential Management Fellows program
- GovLoop's guide to managing the the 2018 Presidential Management Fellows application process
Foreign Service Officer (FSO)
- The State Department's website on the FSO Program
- The State Department's brochure on becoming a FSO
- Think the Foreign Service is right for you? Take this quiz to find out.