If your federal resume is not producing results—scoring “best qualified” ratings, interview opportunities, and job offers, what can you do to change the results? First, do not give up! Read this article and make the necessary changes described below and revitalize your process to make you more competitive in the federal job market. It will be worth your time and effort.
I received this email from a job seeker, “I have used my federal resume to apply for at least 35 different federal jobs, and I have not been rated as qualified for any of them. What am I doing wrong?”
After a thorough review of her account on USAJOBS.gov, I noticed this job seeker could have been well-qualified for many of those opportunities, but she was making some very common mistakes.
Submitting the same resume for every opportunity may have been the simplest thing for her to do, but by using her cookie-cutter resume, this job seeker repeatedly made this same mistake and wasted all her time and effort.
She did NOT customize her resume for the unique requirements of each job announcement.
The resume you use to apply for a job must incorporate the keywords into keyword phrases and qualifications that are in the job announcement.
The keywords can be found throughout the announcement, but the critical keywords are found in these two sections of the announcements: (1) Job Duties and (2) Qualifications and Evaluations. These can change from job announcement to job announcement—even if the job titles are the same! So read them carefully.
For example, I have taken the keywords from two different job announcements currently listed on www.USAJOBS.gov for the same job title.
A. Administrative Support Assistant (Bureau of Land Management) keywords include:
B. Administrative Support Assistant (Office of National Drug Control Policy) keywords include:
Assuming that a job seeker had the experience to do both of those jobs, the same resume obviously could not cover both of these positions effectively. So, an informed job seeker, like you now, would adjust the resume to fit each announcement.
Read the job announcement carefully.Then, complete the application process thoroughly and accurately.
Using the online Resume Builder on USAJOBS.gov, job seekers must complete the form – do not leave any fields blank. If something does not apply to you, put "NA" (for "not applicable") in the relevant space. Do not just leave it blank.
For example, a grade point average is required for all academic education. Leaving it blank because you are afraid it might not meet expectations is not a good idea. There are strategies around a low GPA, or not a perfect GPA. It’s ok! Don’t let that trip you up!
Likewise, the online Resume Builder asks for a salary for each of your work experiences, as well as the supervisor’s name and the business contact number. Some people are reluctant to supply that information, so they leave it blank. This is another mistake that can postpone your federal job aspirations before you even get started.
Answer all of the questions, check all of the boxes that need to be checked, and make sure the application you submit is complete and accurate. There are strategies that can be used to address certain circumstances. If you are unsure, contact a Certified Federal Résumé Writer.
Always follow each vacancy announcement specification to screen yourself in, not out. For example:
Success is not in the number of resumes you send out, but in how thoroughly you address the employer’s needs and show your value in each submission. Follow these tips and provide all the information so that each of the six gatekeepers have what they need to pass you through each of the gates! Best of luck to you!
There are competent resources available, including my articles in this section of Job-Hunt.org (in the "More on Federal Job Search" block, up and to the right on this page), my free ebook on Creating an Effective Resume on USAJOBS.gov, and Certified Federal Résumé Writers to help you with strategy, correcting errors, writing a stellar resume to showcase your skills, and guiding you through the process.
Job-Hunt's Federal Job Search Expert, Camille Carboneau Roberts, established CC Career Services in 1989 to provide total career management services to help clients land jobs faster. Expert services include federal resumes, private sector resumes, military-to-federal resumes, and social media resumes and profiles. Contact Camille via email at Camille@ccCareerServices.com, through LinkedIn, Twitter (@CamilleRoberts), or Facebook (CC Career Services).