En Route: A Career Blog

Writing your Fed resume is a lot like doing your taxes

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: ,
POSTED: March 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

All of us have done a private sector resume at least once. We know that there should be an opening summary stating our qualifications, followed by Professional Experience and Education. The format is pretty straightforward.

However, if you’ve ever considered applying to the Federal government for a position, you’ll need to readjust your thinking when it comes to your resume.

There’s No Room for Mistakes

Although no resume should have errors, a Federal resume has to follow a particular format, be of a particular length (or not exceed a certain page length or character count), include salary details, supervisors’ names, contact numbers and the like.

If you’re one of those candidates who think – no way am I putting all that stuff in my resume – then it’s best you don’t apply for a government position.

Think of a Federal resume as you would your tax return. Failure to report all of your taxable income and failure to fill out each section of the form properly will be noticed. It may get you audited. You’ll be facing fines and interest penalties.

While nothing as daunting happens with a poorly written Federal resume, what will occur is you’ll never get a call for an interview. It doesn’t matter if you have the best background or experience in the world for XX job – doesn’t matter if you’re the most qualified candidate – if you don’t submit a properly written and formatted Federal resume, no one will ever look at it.

You have to cross all your ‘t’s’ and dot all your ‘i’s’.

A Federal Resume Must Be Targeted

You also have to apply to a specific position, unlike a private sector resume where you can use one document for many companies across several industries. For example, an administrative assistant. She or he doesn’t need a separate resume for each application.

For a Federal position that’s exactly what you need. You apply to an open Vacancy Announcement and follow the instructions carefully. You can’t cut corners. You can’t leave an important element out. That is, if you want a shot at the job.

Federal resumes are complicated, like a tax return, and they need to be as flawless.

Don’t go blindly into writing one, hoping for the best. It won’t happen. Learn what it takes to write a Federal resume and if it seems too daunting, enlist professional help.