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How to build a resume.
To build a resume in USAJOBS:
- Sign into USAJOBS.
- Go to your Documents .
- Make sure you’re in the Resumes section and select the Upload or build resume button.
- Click Build resume .
- Name your new resume and click Next .
- Click Add Work Experience , enter the required information and click Save Work Experience . To add additional work experience repeat this step or click Next to continue with your education information.
- Click Add Education , enter the required information and click Save Education . Repeat this step to add additional education or click Next to continue with your references. You may also click Finish if you don’t want to add more information.
- Click Add Reference , enter the required information and click Save Reference . Repeat this step to add an additional reference or click Next to continue to the next step.
- You can enter additional information on your resume such as job related training, language skills, organizations/affiliations, professional publications, and other information. Click the corresponding button under each section to add your information, enter your information and click Add or Save for each section once completed.
- Click Finish to save your resume. Your new resume will appear in your Documents list.
- Click View on the resume icon to preview your resume. To edit your resume click Edit on the resume icon and it will bring you to the first page of your resume in the resume builder tool.
Save your work periodically
For security reasons, your session will time out after a period of inactivity. We recommend you Save periodically so that you do not lose any work.
Updating your resume
In order to capture changes that you have made to your profile you will need to build a new resume. USAJOBS does not automatically update existing resumes. This allows you to easily keep a set of resumes to apply to different jobs and only apply changes when you desire.
Tips for formatting resumes in USAJOBS resume builder
You can copy and paste text from Word documents into the resume builder. However, some formatting in these documents may not work in the USAJOBS resume builder. To fix formatting errors inside your resume, you must first save the original file in a .txt format.
To copy and paste from Word:
- Open up your Word document or other word processing tool.
- Select the File tab at the top.
- Go to the Save As option.
- Choose to save it as a Plain Text (.txt) file.
- Open the new file and ensure the text appears in an acceptable format.
- Copy and paste your resume text into the resume builder.
To edit your USAJOBS resume-builder resume:
- Click on your username at the top of the page and select Documents from the menu.
- Find the resume you want to edit and click “Edit” (located below the resume).
- This will bring you to the first page of your resume.
Tips for submitting resumes to agencies
Some agencies accept uploaded resumes and resumes created using the USAJOBS resume builder, while some may only accept one or the other. Even though you may have both types of resumes in the Document section of your profile, the agency determines which ones to accept when you are applying online. The Apply button displayed on the job announcement page activates the process for a job seeker to complete an application.
USAJOBS automatically provides a list of available resumes and other documents to attach to your application, and will only display resumes and documents the hiring agency is willing to accept. For example, if the hiring agency only accepts resumes created using the USAJOBS resume builder, then your uploaded resumes will not be available to add to your application. Please pay special attention to the How to Apply section of the job announcement to find out which resume format and documents are accepted and how to submit them to the hiring agency.
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Tips for Writing a Federal Resume
Creating a federal resume that brings your qualifications to life and shows that you are a perfect fit for the job can be a challenge. Be sure to demonstrate how your skills, experience, training and education match the employer’s needs. Avoid misspelled words and bad grammar. Following are a few ways to make this easier.
Consider what positions you are interested in and review what qualifications or experience they require by reviewing different types of jobs and job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS . Gather information and begin to build out a description of your knowledge, skills and experience to add to your resume. How you present your skills and experience in your resume will help determine whether or not you are invited to interview for a job.
Attend job assistance training prior to departing the service. Contact your Transition Assistance Center as soon as possible and sign up for a Transition Assistance Program Workshop. If you are not near a Military Transition Center, you may use the services at Transition Assistance Offices operated by the other military services. Use your transition counselors. They have the tools and knowledge you need. If available, get their help in creating your first resume or filling out a draft application. Ask them to critique your work and then make the changes they suggest.
One size never fits all. As you apply for jobs, tailor your resume to the position’s requirements. Study the job opportunity announcement and emphasize the parts of your work history that match the qualification requirements listed there. It is important to portray your knowledge and skills as a match to the requirements of the position and demonstrate the ability to do the job. This is easy to do when you include your results, achievements and accomplishments. Minimize the use of technical jargon or specialized terminology (e.g., military abbreviations) in your resume.
Resumes are generally presented in one of three formats: chronological, functional or a combination of both. Which format you choose will depend, in part, on the type of work you have performed and whether or not you are going to continue in the same field.
- Chronological resumes list work experience according to date, with the current job appearing first. Chronological resumes work well if your career has been progressive and you plan to continue in the same line of work.
- Functional resumes are organized by the skills you have used on the job. Functional resumes work well if you are contemplating a new career, do not have a lengthy work history, or have held a number of different positions because they sell your abilities based on the skills you have acquired throughout your career. Be sure to include relevant volunteer experience.
- Combination resumes both describe your work experience and highlight your skills. Combination resumes usually provide the most comprehensive overview of your career.
Unlike resumes used in the private sector, federal resumes require additional information. For each past job, give the standard information found in most resumes. Your federal resume should include the following:
- Job announcement number, job title , and job grade of the job for which you are applying
- Your full name, mailing address , day and evening phone numbers and home e-mail .
- Country of citizenship , if different from U.S.
- Veterans – Ensure that you attach or upload supporting documentation (e.g., DD214 or Statement of Service if still on Active Duty; SF-15, Application for 10-point preference; and Disability Rating Letter of 30% or more from the VA, if applicable).
- Peace Corps / AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers – If you are a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, you will need to provide your Description of Service (DOS) to claim non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs. AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers
- Persons with Disabilities (Schedule A) – To verify eligibility for employment under the Schedule A hiring authority, you must provide proof of disability issued by a licensed medical professions, a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist, or any federal agency, state agency, or an agency of the District of Columbia, or U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits. Contact the Department’s Selective Placement Coordinators for help with hiring and accommodation requests.
- Veterans – Keep in mind that your military training may count towards qualifications. Use your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document (DD Form 2586) to document your training and education.
- Begin with your current position and list all other positions held in chronological order.
- State the job title, starting and ending dates (including month and year), prior employer's name and address (or write "self-employed," if that applies), and major duties and accomplishments. Include any positions temporarily held.
- Show the average number of hours worked per week or simply state "full-time"; salary or wage earned; supervisor's name, address and telephone number; and whether you’re most recent supervisor may be contacted.
- Veterans - Avoid using military job titles or occupational codes. Instead, look at what you did using your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) as a starting point. Employers prefer proven performers, so make sure you know what employers are looking for in comparison to your military work experience.
- Indicate if your current supervisor can be contacted
- Job-related training courses (title and year).
- self-management skills refer to the way you manage yourself on the job (e.g., dependable, resourceful, etc.);
- functional skills are the skills you use on the job or have used in previous jobs (e.g., operate equipment, supervise, analyze, etc.); and
- technical skills relate to specific skills required to perform a described task (e.g., computer programming, accounting, sales, etc.)
- Current job-related certificates and licenses - Make sure you understand the licensure and certification requirements for your job objective.
- Job-related honors, awards, special accomplishments , leadership activities, memberships, or publications.
Once you have spell checked your resume, take a good look at its overall appearance. Is it appealing and easy to read? Is there enough white space? Are the margins appropriate? Have the headings, font and formatting style been used effectively? Keep in mind that your resume is an employer's first impression of you. Make sure it makes the best one possible.
- Review the job announcements carefully for key words
- Use verbs and adjectives (e.g., managed, implemented, created) that match key words identified in the job announcement.
- Eliminate military lingo (use words such as personnel instead of squad or platoon).
- Include your accomplishments; do not be shy, be truthful.
- Focus on the mission of the agency and translate your experiences.
- Your positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm goes a long way.
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What should I include in my federal resume?
Whether you're a current federal employee or new to the federal government, your resume is the primary way for you to communicate your education, skills and experience.
Before you get started
Read the entire job announcement. Focus on the following sections to understand whether or not you qualify for the position. This critical information is found under:
- Duties and Qualifications
- How to Apply (including a preview of the assessment questionnaire, if applicable)
- How You Will be Evaluated
Make sure you have the required experience and/or education before you apply. Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and the required qualifications, including:
- Level and amount of experience
What to include in your resume
Federal jobs often require that you have experience in a particular type of work for a certain period of time. You must show how your skills and experiences meet the qualifications and requirements listed in the job announcement to be considered for the job.
Include important contact information
Don't forget to add current contact information. Most job applications require this information:
- Phone number
Read the job opportunity carefully to make sure you have included all required contact information.
Include dates, hours, level of experience and examples for each work experience
For each work experience you list, make sure you include:
- Start and end dates (including the month and year).
- The number of hours you worked per week.
- The level and amount of experience—for instance, whether you served as a project manager or a team member helps to illustrate your level of experience.
- Examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments that prove you can perform the tasks at the level required for the job as stated in the job announcement. Your experience needs to address every required qualification.
Program Analyst GS-343-11 January 2009—Present 40 Hours/Week $63,000/Year
Include volunteer work and roles in community organizations
Don't limit yourself to only including paid work experience. Include relevant volunteer work or community organizations roles that demonstrate your ability to do the job.
Use numbers to highlight your accomplishments
Use numbers, percentages or dollars to highlight your accomplishments—you can find this information in things like your performance reviews, previous job descriptions, awards and letters of recommendation.
When explaining your accomplishments:
- Include examples of how you saved money, earned money or managed money.
- Include examples of how you saved or managed time.
- "Improved efficiency of document processing by 25 percent over the previous year".
- "Wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines".
- "Managed a student organization budget of more than $7,000".
- "Wrote prospect letter that has brought in more than $25,000 in donations to date".
These statements show in concrete terms what you accomplished.
More resume writing tips
Customize your resume.
You should tailor your resume to the job announcement rather than sending out the same resume for every job. Customizing your resume helps you match your competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience to the requirements for each job. Emphasize your strengths and include everything you've done that relates to the job you're seeking. Leave out experience that isn't relevant.
Use similar terms and address every required qualification
Your experience needs to address every required qualification in the job announcement. Hiring agencies will look for specific terms in your resume to make sure you have the experience they're seeking.
For example, if the qualifications section says you need experience with “MS Project” you need to use the words ” MS Project” in your resume.
Organize your resume to make it easy to understand
You need to organize your resume to help agencies evaluate your experience. If you don't provide the information required for the hiring agency to determine your qualifications, you might not be considered for the job.
- Use reverse chronological order to list your experience—start with your most recent experience first and work your way back.
- Provide greater detail for experience that is relevant to the job for which you are applying.
- Show all experiences and accomplishments under the job in which you earned it. This helps agencies determine the amount of experience you have with that particular skill.
- Use either bullet or paragraph format to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
- Use plain language—avoid using acronyms and terms that are not easily understood.
Hiring agencies often receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes for certain positions. Hiring managers quickly skim through submissions and eliminate candidates who clearly are not qualified. Look at your resume and ask:
- Can a hiring manager see my main credentials within 10 to 15 seconds?
- Does critical information jump off the page?
- Do I effectively sell myself on the top quarter of the first page?
Review your resume before you apply
Check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors and have someone else, with a good eye for detail, review your resume.
Important facts about the federal hiring process
- The federal government does have a standard job application. Your resume is your application.
- Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and list the required qualifications and responsibilities.
- After applying, the hiring agency uses the information in your resume to verify if you have the required qualifications stated in the job announcement.
- Once the hiring agency has determined who is qualified, they may use other assessments such as interviews or testing to determine the best qualified applications.
Learn more about the federal hiring process .
- What should I leave out of my resume?
- How to build a resume
- How to create a resume
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Federal Resume Tips
Federal and private sector resumes.
Federal resumes differ from resumes used in the private sector with regard to both content and purpose.
- multiple pages long
- detailed description of work experience and qualifications
- used to determine if you meet requirements/qualifications for a job announcement. Be sure to list all your experiences (including non-paid).
- generally limited to two pages
- brief summary of work history
- used as a marketing tool to get an interview
In the Federal Government, your resume is your application. There may be an additional component called an assessment questionnaire . The assessment questionnaire asks you to rank yourself on your qualities necessary to do the job being advertised. It must support the experiences listed in your resume.
An academic curriculum vitae does not provide enough information to determine if you meet eligibility requirements. If you use one, please be sure to add the information listed below.
Resumes must thoroughly describe how your skills and experiences align to the criteria in the job announcement. It must also support your responses to the assessment questionnaire. To do this, be sure to include detailed examples in your resume.
Why? We operate under various federal employment laws, rules, and regulations. We are prohibited from drawing conclusions or making assumptions regarding your experience or qualifications.
We encourage you to use the USAJobs online Resume Builder . If you use your own resume, you must include the following information:
- Contact information . This includes your name, address, day and evening telephone numbers, and email address
- Citizenship (if other than the U.S.)
- Relevant work experience . This includes paid and unpaid experiences. For instance, volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social)
For each employment listed, include the following information:
- Dates of employment . Include beginning and end dates in the following format: month/day/year
- Hours per week . We assume fulltime unless otherwise stated. Employment will be prorated in crediting experience.
- Include any supervisory/managerial responsibilities and number of staff supervised (if applicable). This information helps determine if you meet minimum eligibility requirements for the position.
- Review the qualifications section in the job announcement closely and directly address the education, skills, and experience required in your resume.
- Series and grade or equivalent (if a Federal position)
Education R equirement
If the position has an education requirement or you are qualifying on the basis of education, include the following:
- Education history . Specify the type of degree and major of study.
- Relevant courses . This information is needed if the position requires credit hours.
Do NOT Include
On your resume and cover letter, you should not include any of the following:
- A photograph or video of yourself
- Any sensitive information (age, date of birth, marital status, protected health information, religious affiliation, social security number, etc.)
- Links to web pages
- Spell out all acronyms .
- Projects worked on
- Specific duties and tasks
- Tools, software, or systems
- Results and outcomes (i.e. saved money, time, consolidated resources, etc.)
- Example: an individual in the budget field has "worked with disseminating budgets for small projects." To make the description more relevant, the applicant describes the experience with numbers, "disseminated budgets for small projects amounting to $450,000."
- Example: When a recruiter reads the keyword "analyst," he or she might assume you have experience in collecting data and evaluating effectiveness.
- If a job announcement uses a keyword such as "develops," use it in your resume. It is representative of independence in work assignments and the range of responsibility for the available position.
- Be honest . Be honest in describing your accomplishments, but not modest.
- Use reverse chronological order to list experience . Start with your most recent experience first and work your way back. An exception: when it is more appropriate to list your most relevant work experience first (e.g. if you are changing careers).
- Tailor your resume to include information relevant to the specific position you are applying to. Education and work experience that is indirectly related can be excluded if the resume begins to grow too long.
- Be concise and keep paragraphs short. To make your resume easier to read, add a brief, relevant heading to paragraphs to maximize readability.
- Use bullets to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
- Ensure correct grammar and no spelling errors . Your resume is your first impression – make it a good one!
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