Federal Application Resources

Applying to work for the federal government is a different experience than applying to work in the private or nonprofit sectors. 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 want 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

Federal resumes differ from typical one-page resumes in both their length and also their depth of information. The key with 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 in which you are interested, as 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Build a federal resume in your own word-processing platform. 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 (eg. Avue) and e-mail submissions.

​Getting Started on Your Federal Resume

Here are a few resources to help you write your federal resume.

Content Strategies

Depending on your background and the key requirements, duties and qualifications required in the JOA, you can focus different elements of your background to demonstrate your qualifications.

Career Center Resources

Additional Resources

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.

Additional Guidance for Federal Opportunities

Presidential Management Fellows

Foreign Service Officer (FSO)

International Jobs

Various Internships and Fellowships