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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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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:

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

Learn more about the federal hiring process .

Additional resources

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Writing a Federal Resume

Is your resume one page? That’s fine for a private sector job. Your government resume, however, will need to have more detail, and it’s likely to grow to about two to five pages.

Key Components of a Federal Resume

The best way to create a federal resume is to use the resume builder on the federal government’s jobs website, USAJOBS. The resume builder will guide you through the whole process. And you don’t have to stick with one. You can create a resume tailored to fit different positions you apply for. You can also create a searchable, master resume, so HR specialists can contact you if there’s an opportunity that fits your skills and experience.

Building a Federal Resume

Candidate Information A federal resume will ask your citizenship status and most, but not all, positions require you to be a U.S. citizen. You’re also asked if you’ve worked for the federal government before and if you qualify for veterans preference —that is, you’ve served on active duty in the Armed Forces.

Work experience Your resume should list all the relevant jobs you’ve held.

Required : Employer, location, title, start and end date, average hours worked per week, responsibilities and accomplishments for each job you list.

Optional : A supervisor(s) as a reference and salary, although not listing salary doesn’t exclude resumes from consideration.

Education Include information on the schools you attended and the relevant coursework you completed. Only list degrees from accredited schools, or programs that meet the Office of Personnel Management’s standards . Provide as much information as possible to support your case that you’re the best person for the job.

Required : Schools attended and degrees obtained.

Optional : Grade-point averages, relevant coursework, academic papers or projects, key presentations, honors received, other important accomplishments.

Optional Information

For the best shot at a position, provide as much pertinent information as possible in optional sections, including:

Job–related training 

This could include classes, seminars, coursework, certifications or training that relates to the skills and experience the position requires.


Consider listing professional or personal references who can vouch for your character, work ethic and dependability—such as colleagues, classmates and mentors.

Language skills 

Include the languages you have experience in, and your level of proficiency.


Use this to list professional associations, societies, clubs or other organizations you belong to and to highlight leadership roles and volunteer experiences you’ve had that relate to the position description.

Professional publications

If you’ve been published, include the outlets you’ve contributed to, the publication names and the date your submissions were published.

Additional information 

You can add other relevant information, including awards, leadership activities, public speaking engagements or volunteer experience. You can also add your availability, the type of work environment you seek and your desired location. Even if your interests and desires don’t match the position’s needs, your resume will stay in the running.


usajobs resume maker

Federal Government Jobs

Helping job hunters find, apply for, and land government jobs, usajobs.gov, federal job search, usajobs.gov federal job search.

The USAJobs (USAJobs.gov) federal job search site is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They advertise an average of 14,000 federal job vacancies daily and assist agencies with their recruiting efforts. Each year approximately 200,000 people are hired by Uncle Sam. USAJobs offers basic and advanced job searches, an online federal resume builder, applicant online registration where you can check on the status of your applications, save searches, job vacancies, and resumes for future bids. There are also abundant resources available for your federal jobs search.  

Job seekers can search by job title, location, occupational series, agency or department, salary range, and pay grade. The advance search feature offers many options to filter your search. You can also register to use their online federal resume builder and you can limit your federal job search to jobs available for current federal employees only or to jobs that the general public can apply for.

USAJobs was recently upgraded to a more user friendly format that simplifies the application process for all applicants. The new site explains various hiring polices and reduced government jargon so that applicants will better understand the process.

USAJobs Resume Posting

After registering online you can build and save up to 5 distinct resumes, save and automate job searches, apply for jobs, and explore special hiring programs. You can also see what jobs are in demand.

USAJobs Information

USAJobs Federal Job Search

Use their advanced search feature with multiple filters to search for federal government jobs in your occupation, area, and at the desired pay grade. Visit http://www.usajobs.gov to search for federal jobs in your area. Also search our consolidated job listings that provide job vacancies for federal, state, and private sectors in your area.

Targeted USAJob Searches :

Apply for student internships

Additional Resources

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Career Pro Plus

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Building Your Resume with USAJobs

by Barbara Adams , CPRW, CEIP, MFRW, MMRW, MFCA/T

What Is USAJobs?

USAJobs  is the federal official employment site. It’s a job board designed for U.S. government agencies across the country and around the world. It connects qualified applicants to more than 500 agencies and organizations, posting more than 20,000 job openings every day in over 147 countries. When you establish an account, USAJobs provides a secure online environment to access and apply for these opportunities.

As the federal government’s official source for job listings, application information, and employment opportunities, USAJobs has attracted more than 17 million applicants since its inception. USAJOBS 3.1 screens applicants’ responses to questionnaires found in most vacancy announcements in support of the level of experience you claim for specified questions. This step and your responses will determine if you qualify for the specific position. The responses to these questions and your experience, skills, education, training and accomplishments must be specified throughout your USAJobs resume.

The USAJOBS online Federal Resume Builder has its own limitations and requirements. That means your information on USAJobs resumes must meet the required format, keyword criteria and characters permitted. USAJOBS hosts many thousands of job applications for a variety of federal job openings in the U.S. and around the world.

Online formats tend to be restrictive and each has different format requirements. If not written correctly with the required USAJobs resume format, your application may end up being automatically rejected. This is why it’s incredibly important to learn how to write a resume for USAJobs correctly.

Let Us Write Your USAJobs Resume Correctly

Why is a USAJobs Resume is Important?

USAJobs announcements often attract dozens—and sometimes hundreds—of applicants. The USAJobs application process is designed to weed out candidates who cannot follow precise instructions and who don’t present experience that qualifies them for the position. Your application and your resume need to be crafted to clear this first hurdle.

The application process includes questions that address your level of experience. The catch is that your answers to those questions have to be supported by the body of your USAJobs resume.  It’s important that your resume is crafted in such a way that it backs up your responses  and presents to the hiring agency a highly knowledgeable and skilled candidate. It’s all too easy for otherwise qualified candidates to make simple errors or omissions and accidentally eliminate themselves from consideration early in the hiring process. As the leading USAJobs resume writing service in the industry, CareerProPlus can help you develop the application package that will get your federal resume seen and reviewed.

What Makes USAJobs Resumes Unique?

If you’ve worked in the private sector, you’re probably familiar with resumes that are one or two pages, but it’s different for federal government jobs. The USAJobs resume format is the most widely used style for federal hiring, and it includes much more information than you’d typically put on a corporate resume. CareerProPlus has developed a Headline Format for USAJobs resume that has been well received time and again by the Human Resources (HR) personnel of federal agencies. We are able to help you ensure the most compelling, impactful, and relevant parts of your federal resume stand out to HR when it matters most.

woman with a federal resume

Encoding Specific Keywords for USAJOBS Resume Database Searches

Now that USAJobs is searchable throughout all federal agencies looking for qualified candidates, it is important to build USAJobs resumes in the federal resume builder instead of uploading your resume. This will not harm your chances if you just upload your USAJobs resume as an attachment for the specific job you are applying for, but when you apply for a vacancy using the online federal resume builder it will display specific keywords in custom data base searches when other agencies are seeking job candidates with your experience.

Creating a federal resume is a very detailed process, and it is very important that you know exactly how to code or write your USAJobs resume to generate a hiring authority’s interest in you. There are a different set of keywords for every job. Sometimes building your USAJobs resume can be overwhelming because they are much more comprehensive than applying for private-sector jobs. Unfortunately there is no reference book on keywords, but if you look at the job duties and specialized skills on each vacancy announcement you will find the keywords populated within the wording.

The bottom line is that the federal government now can search resumes on the USAJobs system by job-specific keywords. If your USAJobs resume is not populated with those words, it does not have a chance of being flagged for consideration for other positions that may become available. So don’t miss the chance to have your USAJobs resume searched for other federal job opportunities .

Why You Should Tailor Your USAJobs Resume for Each Position

Have you ever noticed the way your word choice varies, depending on whether you’re talking to your current boss, your significant other, your friends, or your family? This reflects a natural human desire to connect by using the most effective language in a given situation. You should think of your federal resume the same way. It should aim to use the most targeted language possible to convey a seamless fit with the hiring organization. One of the ways you can achieve this with a  USAJobs resume  is to update it to meet the specific experience requirements and keywords of each job posting.

Successful applicants also incorporate elements from their federal resume into the answers on the accompanying occupational questionnaire for the vacancy. By creating a consistent connection between the resume and the accompanying questionnaire, you will be able to communicate with HR more effectively and will be more likely to earn an interview.

All USAJobs vacancy announcements should be read and interpreted prior to applying. This is essential to ensure your USAJobs resume addresses all the specialized experience and assessment questions.

Effective USAJOBS Resumes for Military Veterans

For military personnel, it is important to translate complex military terminology into terms more commonly used in civilian government agencies and the private sector. This is often one of the more difficult tasks for military personnel who attempt to write their own resumes, and it is something that the professional Master Federal Resume Writers at CareerProPlus have been helping veterans with for more than 30 years.

In addition to following the established rules and detailed instructions of a job posting, it is important to ensure that the resume immediately communicates your eligibility. To help address this, we developed our signature Headline Format back in 1995, when the federal government phased out its Application for Federal Employment form (also known as the SF-171). This Headline Format has proven popular with federal HR offices because it places desired keywords at the beginning of each paragraph, allowing HR professionals to quickly and easily locate specialized experience and other requirements related to each U.S. government job vacancy announcement.


Keeping Your USAJobs Resumes in the System and Up-to-Date

You can upload as many as five USAJobs resumes and keep them in your account for as long as you need them.

Of course, everything changes over time, and that includes the USAJobs system—sometimes without warning. This can render earlier resumes unsuitable for further use. Since successful candidates aren’t just well qualified but also well prepared, we recommend periodically  connecting with a career coach  to ensure that your USAJobs resume and credentials are up-to-date. Professional career coaches help focus applicants toward the opportunities that make the most of their training, experience, skills, and competencies. That’s why well-coached job applicants who have taken the time to receive the necessary training are often better positioned to secure a federal job than candidates with similar qualifications.

Do All Federal Agencies Use USAJobs?

An overwhelming majority of federal agencies use USAJobs. While some positions periodically get filled without being listed on the site, USAJobs is by far the best opportunity for most applicants to find and apply for federal government jobs. If you are seeking a certain position, or a position in a certain agency, our career coaches will work with you to devise a strategy that maximizes your visibility and competitiveness for your desired job.

Why is Federal Hiring Automated?

As a skilled individual with leadership experience, you know how important personality, attitude, and work ethic are to a successful career. While federal agencies also understand this, there are over 2 million full-time federal employees.

The U.S. government is actually the largest employer in the country. That means the sheer number of entries in the USAJobs application system makes it nearly impossible for all federal resumes to undergo a manual review.

This is why the federal employment process has been partially automated, streamlining the process to select only the USAJobs resumes that most closely match the qualifications requirements for a given position.

Who Can Use USAJobs?

3d rendering of close-up of puzzle set with american flag print on white background. Isolated

USAJobs is a federal government job board available to any U.S. citizen. It provides tremendous opportunities for those already in the federal system to move up the ladder.

And if you’re interested in starting a career with the federal government, this is the first stop to make in your search. CareerProPlus can help you with your  military-to-federal resumes  or  civilian federal resumes .

How Can USAJobs Help Me?

If you’re looking to improve the breadth of your job search, then USAJobs is the place to start. Here are just a few ways using USAJobs can help you with the next step in your career:

How Do I Get Started With USAJobs?

The only requirement to establish a USAJobs account is a valid email. Simply click on “Create an Account” and follow the steps to complete the process. Once registered, you can complete your profile, build a resume, or upload an existing resume in a variety of compatible formats, including Word documents and PDF. The important thing to remember is that USAJobs requires a specific format for submission and has restrictive character counts in different parts of the resume.

You can begin your job search immediately upon registration using a variety of criteria, including agency name, job type, location, and even desired salary. Remember that thousands of new jobs are added to the USAJobs website every day!

What Else Should I Know About USAJobs?

The process of applying for a federal position on USAJobs can sometimes be a bit daunting, from understanding the terms used at various agencies to knowing exactly how the application process works; it can be very different from agency to agency and sometimes only slight changes can affect how you submit your resume and application. Keywords and accomplishments are also critical to building an effective resume for USAJobs.

It’s generally not a good idea to submit any old resume you have lying around to USAJobs. There is a specific format for a USAJobs resume that has proven to be most effective. If you aren’t sure how to proceed confidently, then it may be worth considering the services of a professional Master Federal Resume Writer. CareerProPlus has mastered the fine art of the  USAJobs resume —including through the use of our “secret weapon.”

If you’d like to deploy this secret weapon but aren’t sure where to begin, you can  get started right here .

Get Started With Your Resume

( Source:   USAJOBS Help Center )

Barbara Adams, President and CEO of CareerPro Global (CPG), has been a member of the careers community for the past 25 years. Ms. Adams holds five prestigious industry certifications. CareerPro Global is the only ISO 9001-2008 Certified Career Service in the industry, as well as one of the fastest-growing Military, Federal, and Civilian Resume-Writing and Careers-Coaching companies. The team of Certified Professional Federal and Military Resume Writers at CPG assist thousands of clients in applying for and gaining employment each year. We can help you land your military to civilian job.

Learn More About Federal Government Jobs & Resumes

Page Updated May 26, 2022

About the author

usajobs resume maker


Barbara Adams is the founder and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. and has led the company since 1990.  She is recognized as one of the pioneers in the career services industry and a titan of the resume writing industry. Barbara has built CPG into one of the largest and fastest-growing premier career services organizations industry-wide. She is committed to CPG’s core factors that include quality product, exceptional customer service, a successful process and taking care of her people.  Barbara has Co-Authored numerous books, including:

She also co-authored the certification requirements for the Master Military Resume Writer (MMRW) and the Master Federal Career Advisor and Trainer (MFCA-T) certifications.

How to Write a Federal Resume in 2023 [3 Free Templates]

Background Image

Creating a federal resume is a lot trickier than a conventional one.

For starters, you need to make it way more comprehensive (3-4 pages instead of the usual 1-2).

You also have to add very specific details, such as your GS rating, clearance, and more.

Want to learn how to create/build a federal resume the easy way?

So, let’s get started.

What’s a Federal Resume?

A federal resume, as the name implies, is the type of resume you need to make in order to apply for US federal positions.

It is similar to the conventional resume in the way you describe your experiences. You include all the must-have sections in your resume, and describe your skills and past experiences.

There are, however, some differences from a conventional resume that make creating a federal one a bit trickier.

Federal Resume VS Conventional Resume - Key Differences

The differences between the two types of resumes are as follows:

federal resume differences

Sounds a bit complicated, right?

Worry not - once you’ve gotten the hang of it, writing a federal resume becomes a child’s play.

And you’re about to learn just how you can do that!

How to Write a Federal Resume [6 Easy Steps]

Step #1. start with a trusted format.

There are 3 typical resumes formats you can pick from:

Since you’re making a federal resume, though, you need to go with a reverse-chronological format .

It’s the most common format in the US and is recognized by every single federal recruiter.

While a traditional resume is 1-2 pages max , the federal resume provides you with a LOT more freedom.

As we highlighted above, a federal resume includes a lot more detail than the conventional one. So, if you aim for 1-2 pages, you’ll just come off as lazy (and most likely unable to list all the information you need to land the job).

Unless the job ad specifically asks for a specific format, we recommend you stick to PDF.

A PDF resume maintains its original formatting and will look just like you intended regardless of which computer you open it with.

The same, however, can’t be said for a Word resume format. 

Yep - if you use a resume template, your resume is going to be a lot more noticeable and at the same time, easier to create.

You can pick one of our hand-crafted CV templates and get started with yours in minutes!

federal resume template

Step #2. Include a Detailed Contact Information Section

Once you’ve picked your federal resume format, you should create a contact information section at the top of your resume.

That's where you include the typical information you’d put on a standard resume:

For a federal resume, also include the following essentials:


[email protected]

Citizenship: United States

Desired Job Type: Security Specialist

Highest Federal Pay Grade: GS-10

Desired Location: US, Massachusetts

Step #3. Create an Attention-Grabbing Resume Summary

Federal or not, a resume summary is essential.

Picture this: you’re a hiring manager and you’ve got 1,000 resumes to go through for a single position.

Are you going to 1) go through them in detail , one by one, and read them cover to cover?

Or 2) glance through them , find the ones that are relevant and give them in-depth attention.

You’d probably pick #2 (and so do hiring managers).

This is exactly where the resume summary comes in.

A resume summary is a short, 2-4 sentence paragraph that goes right on top of your resume (under contact information). As the name implies, it’s used to quickly summarize your work experience and give the hiring manager a snapshot of your application.

If you get the resume summary right, then you can rest assured that the hiring manager is going to read your resume start-to-end.

Federal Resume Summary Example

A well-written federal resume summary contains the following information:

Here is a real-life federal resume summary example:

Step #4. List Your Past Work Experiences in Detail

Your work experience section is going to make or break your federal resume.

At the end of the day, this is what hiring managers really care about, while the rest of your resume is supposed to “support” this section.

Creating a convincing work experience section for a federal resume is a 2-parter:

First, you need to make sure that you include all the relevant work experience information.

Then, you need to present your path responsibilities and achievements in the most convincing way possible.

Let us teach you how to do both: 

What to Include in a Federal Resume Work Experience Section

For each entry in your work experience section, start off with the employment information. This includes:

Supervisory Security Specialist

National Nuclear Security Administration

04/2015 - Present

Washington, DC

Pay Grade: GS12

Average Hours Per Week: 40

Supervisor: Michelle Doe (202-555-0180)

Yes, you may contact the supervisor.

Then, in plain text or in bullet points, describe all your responsibilities and achievements right underneath each work experience.

If you had several roles for the same employer, bold out each role and put the corresponding responsibilities and achievements underneath.

Here, It’s important to note that you want to be as detailed as possible, compared to when compiling a conventional resume.

For the latter, you’d list out 4-6 bullets of your top achievements and responsibilities and call it a day. With a federal resume, you need to include more information.

How to Write a Convincing Work Experience Section

Now, let’s talk about part 2:

How do you effectively communicate your past achievements and responsibilities?

The key here is to be as achievement-focused as possible.

Most job seekers, when writing about their past work experiences, tend to talk about their former responsibilities.

While this is OK (and will land you a job here and there), it doesn’t help you stand out much.

The hiring manager can probably figure out what your past responsibilities were - they’re hiring for your role, after all.

What they’re really interested to learn about you is how you excel compared to the rest of the job-seekers.

So, instead of saying:

Step #5. Add Your Educational History

Next up in the federal resume is your educational history.

This one’s pretty straightforward - all you need to do is mention the following:

If specifically requested, you might also need to include the same information for your high school or GED.

Here’s what your education section would look like on your federal resume:

Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service

Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, United States

08/2014 - 05/2018

Step #6. Top It Off With Optional Sections

If you have space left on your resume, you can add some of the following common resume sections to help you stand out:


Technical Skills

Federal Job Search Resources

There are a ton of useful internet resources to help you get a job in the federal government. Here are some of our top favorites:

And finally, in addition to USA Jobs, you can find federal work on the following websites:

Other Federal Resume & Job Search Tips

At this point, your federal resume should be ready.

But before you go and start your job search, here are some of our top tips to help you succeed in landing your next job!

#1. Tailor Your Federal Resume to the Job

If you’re applying to several different types of jobs, make sure to tailor your resume to each of them.

A very common mistake job seekers make is that they create a single resume for dozens of positions.

This is effective at times, but it very rarely works for the type of job you’d LOVE to have.

So how do you tailor the resume? it’s pretty straightforward. Look up a job you’d like to apply for, and read the responsibilities and skills required in great detail.

federal job example

Then, cross-reference it with your resume.

In many cases, you’ll see that you DO have a lot of the required experiences , you just didn’t mention them because you didn’t have space, or because you thought other types of experiences were more important.

Now all you have to do is add the relevant information to your resume, and you’re good to go!

#2. Mind the Additional Documents

Federal positions will commonly ask you for additional documents other than your resume.

If you miss one, chances are, you’re going to get disqualified (even if you have the most eye-catching federal resume in the world).

So, carefully read about the job you’re applying for and ensure that you have all the right documents.

Some documents required for federal jobs include:

#3. Are You Still Struggling? Hire a Federal Resume Expert!

If you’re still struggling with building an effective federal resume, you can always hire an expert to give you a helping hand.

Check out some of the best career coaches in 2023 here.

Federal Resume FAQ

Do you still have some lingering questions on how to build an effective federal resume? We’ll answer them here!

1. What should I include in my federal resume?

In your federal resume, include the following sections:

2. What format should my federal resume follow?

Definitely reverse-chronological.

The other 2 resume formats (functional and combination) are nowhere near as popular and are more likely to ruin your chances to land the job if the hiring manager isn’t familiar with them.

3. Should I include my picture on my federal resume?

No , you should not include a picture in your federal resume .

You should also avoid adding any sensitive personal information (age, date of birth, marital status, religious affiliation, social security number, etc.), as well as links to any websites.

4. How long should my federal resume be?

Your federal resume should be around 4 to 6 pages long, as opposed to the conventional resume which is 1-2 pages.

The reason for this is that federal resumes require a lot more background information about you than the traditional ones.

Key Takeaways

Phew, that was a lot to take in!

Now, let’s recap all the key points we’ve covered about creating a federal resume:

Related Resume Examples

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