If you read many articles or blogs about people who are trying to get into the Federal government, it seems the biggest hurdle is getting beyond submitting an application. A Federal resume pro is someone who has figured out the algorithm for writing a resume. These pros are the most likely to have their resume reviewed by the hiring manager. As a little background, it might be interesting to describe the basic steps of the Federal hiring process.

Basic steps of the Federal hiring process

  1. You submit application by 11:59 pm of the job announcement close date.
  2. HR reviews applications to determine if you meet basic requirements.
  3. Top applications are sent to the hiring manager to review.
  4. Hiring manager schedules interviews (phone or face-to-face).
  5. Hiring manager conducts interviews and makes selection.
  6. Name of person the hiring manager selects goes back to HR.
  7. HR calls the lucky candidate with a tentative job offer.

If you are someone who can’t get past stage 2 of this hiring process, I’m here to help. There are just a few small adjustments to significantly increase your chances of getting your Federal resume seen by a hiring manager.

Here’s 7 pro tips for writing a Federal resume:

  1. Print out the job announcement. Highlight the key words or phrases you see repeated. Make sure those key words are in there as many times as possible. Remember, if the key words are hyphenated – make sure you hyphenate them in your resume too.
  2. If a questionnaire is part of the application, print it out. Highlight the key words that show up in each question. Make sure those words are in your resume and that your description supports your answer on the questionnaire.
  3. Summarize your skills and experiences matching the announcement upfront. If your relevant experiences aren’t mentioned until the fourth page, you’ve probably lost the reader. A variation on a chronological resume to get those skills mentioned early is to split out your past positions as “Relevant Experiences” and “Additional Experiences”.
  4. Spell check.
  5. Describe the outcomes of your accomplishments. You didn’t just ‘implement a new process,’ you ‘implemented a new process that reduced errors and shortened the turnaround time by two days’.
  6. If you use a period at the end of a series of words, make sure it’s a full sentence.
  7. Spell check again. Spellcheck doesn’t always catch everything. Sometimes, you spell the word correctly but it isn’t the right word for the situation. For example, if you write ‘moist’ instead of ‘most’ it probably won’t show up in a standard spell check.


I offer some additional advice about this topic in: Federal resumes break all the industry rules.

Want more help? Contact me to set up a 20-minute consult to help you revise your resume.