5 Resume Tips for Federal Job Seekers

5 Resume Tips for Federal Job Seekers
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Navigating the post-service employment landscape can be challenging, but those attempting to enter the federal workforce will face a particular brand of unfamiliar hurdles – obstacles you won’t learn about from online hiring websites or résumé-help services.


But MOAA can help. In addition to an array of transition resources, Life Members can access MOAA’s Federal Résumé Review, giving them an edge over others in the federal job marketplace. Learn more about that offering and other MOAA résumé services at this link.


MOAA also offers federal career guidance on other platforms, including regular articles and webinars. MOAA Life Member Ralph Charlip, a federal hiring expert and the owner and president of Inspiration Creek Management Consultants, provided a series of helpful tips to webinar attendees during a recent session: The basics are available below, and Premium and Life members can see the entire presentation at this link (login required).


1. Stand Out From the Crowd. USAJOBS, the government’s official employment site, offers its own résumé builder, but Charlip said to avoid using it unless your position specifically requests you do so. “Your résumé, when you create it and upload it, is going to be a much better picture of who you are than if you use the résumé builder in USAJOBS,” he said, pointing out some formatting flaws with the builder.


2. Don’t Get Too Creative. You’ve likely heard about résumé types that may stray from the standard chronological format – focusing on skills, for instance, or tailoring your document specifically to your employer at the expense of some of your employment details. When it comes to federal jobs, Charlip said, the traditional approach is best: Human resource specialists who screen résumés in the early stages of the hiring process “are most familiar with a chronological résumé that’s laid out well, and that’s going to make it easier for you.”


[MORE RESOURCES: MOAA's Webinar Archive]


3. Get to the Point. Federal résumés have five-page limits, but “if you don’t need to use five pages, don’t use five pages,” Charlip said. Summarize less-relevant, less-recent experiences – don’t be afraid to cover eight or nine years in three or four lines.


4. Leave Some Things Out. Don’t mention marital status or number of children. Don’t discuss race or religion, with the possible exception of listing church activities as part of relevant community service. “You want to be selected based on merit,” Charlip said. “You don’t want to have any opportunity for the agency to discriminate against you.”


5. Don’t Copy and Paste. “I’ve seen a 40-page résumé for a GS-14 position – I stopped reading after Page 5 – because all the person did is they literally cut the two or three page job description from all the jobs they had and put them into the résumé,” Charlip said. “That’s not what we’re looking for.”


Premium and Life members can get more advice from the webinar – including tips on cover letters and making your résumé stand out from the field – at this link.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on X: @KRLilley