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Building a Federal Resume: Tips and FAQs

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. Learn more below on how to tailor your resume and the do’s and don’ts.

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)
  • 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
  • Education
  • Training
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 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.


Management Analyst GS-343-11
January 2009 - Present
40 Hours/Week

  • Experience/Accomplishment
  • Experience/Accomplishment
Resume Writing Tips:
  • Customize your resume to each job
  • State the facts. Avoid belief or judgement statements
  • Provide sufficient detail, but use concise language
  • Avoid information that does not add substance
  • Use headings to guide the reader
Resume Writing Do’s and Don’ts
 Resume Writing Do's  Resume Writing Don'ts
 Be thorough, detailed, and clearly depict experience, qualifications, and accomplishments Don’t only state duties; showcase your accomplishments
 Use action verbs Don’t attach position descriptions to document your experience
 Use relevant words, descriptions and phrases from job announcements, duties, and job classifications Don’t assume HR Specialists know who you are and/or what you have done at previous positions
 Modify the resume to match position requirements Don’t use civilian industry jargon, acronyms, or company specific terminology. Military jargon may be okay if relevant to the job 
 Highlight key points or headings using capital letters, asterisks, and/or dashes Don’t use acronyms unless they are spelled out initially
Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  Can I use volunteer experience in my resume?
A:  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.

Q: Do I need the specific date of when I started a position and when I finished?
A: Start and end dates should include the month and year.

Q: Is there a standard Federal Government job application?
A:  Your resume is your application.

Q: Should I use the resume builder on usajobs.gov or upload my resume?
A: Both options are available to use on www.usajobs.gov. It is up to the applicant as to which one he/she prefers.

Q: What is the difference between eligibility and qualifications?
A: Eligibility, in the federal hiring process, refers to being part of a particular group of people that an agency wants to hire – whether it’s a current federal employee, a veteran, or a recent graduate. Your eligibility has nothing to do with your work experience, skills, and other qualifications. Qualifications include your work experience (years, type of work), skills, education level and your overall knowledge of a particular field of study.

Q: Do I need a degree to work at FDA?
A: No, if you have been in the job market for a while and have accumulated an extensive work history, you may be well qualified for many positions even without a college degree. Except for certain professional and scientific positions, a college education may not be necessary.

Q: What is specialized experience?
A: “Specialized experience” is a type of work experience that is directly related to the position which you are applying. This means, for example, to qualify for a GS-12 grade (or equivalent) level, you must have had a minimum of 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to a GS-11 grade (or equivalent) level.

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