Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Federal Resume in 2024

6 min read

Landing a position in the government sector can be a transformative experience, offering you the opportunity to serve the nation and make a difference in other people’s lives. However, the path to securing a coveted role in the federal government is not easy as it seems.

Just like in the private sector, your success also lies in creating a perfect resume that stands out from the crowd and effectively showcases your unique qualifications. But, when applying to federal government agencies, you need to have a federal resume that requires a more specialized approach and distinctive elements that set it apart from traditional resumes. We know that writing a resume is really daunting, much more if you need to follow strict and specific guidelines.

But don’t worry! In this blog, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process and provide you with expert tips on how to write a federal resume with ease. Continue reading.

What is a Federal Resume?

A federal resume is a comprehensive and structured document used by applicants seeking employment within the federal government of the United States. It differs greatly from resumes commonly used in the private sector due to its unique requirements.

In contrast to regular resumes, a federal resume is often lengthier and more detailed, covering numerous pages to include an in-depth description of an applicant’s qualifications, job experience, education, and accomplishments. It also requires additional information such as prior employers’ addresses, contact information, income history, and dates of education, which is unusual in the private sector.

Federal resumes must also follow the tight criteria and forms set by the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to guarantee consistency and fairness in the application process.

Female Job Seeker Filling Up Details On Her Federal Application

How to Write a Federal Resume

Because of the complexities and particular criteria of federal employment, aspiring individuals pursuing opportunities across various government agencies and departments must have a well-crafted federal resume. This will serve as the primary instrument for demonstrating your qualifications for the desired post, giving potential federal employers a compelling story of their expertise.

Having difficulty completing your federal application? Check out this video! This will give you detailed steps on how to write a federal resume that not only adheres to the OPM requirements but also helps you pass the applicant tracking system (ATS).

What Should You Include in Your Federal Resume

Unlike resumes in the private sector, this specialized type of resume demands specific formatting and contains vital information that caters to the unique requirements of the federal hiring process. It is also essential to understand that federal HR specialists and hiring managers use these resumes to evaluate candidates’ qualifications, skills, and suitability for specific roles, and they often follow strict guidelines and scoring systems.

To ensure your federal resume stands out from the rest, here are some key components that should be strategically included in your federal resume:

Contact Information

Begin your federal resume by providing the essential information such as your full name, address, phone number, and email address. Ensure that this information is true and up to date, as it will be used to contact you for the next steps in the application process.

Federal-specific Data

Federal resumes have specific requirements that are different from private-sector resumes. Ensure to include the following federal-specific details on top of your resume, right after the contact details.

  • Social Security Number (optional but preferred)
  • Country of citizenship
  • General Schedule (GS) rating
  • Veteran’s preference (if applicable)
  • Relevant security clearance (if you have one)

Resume Summary

Include a brief resume summary in your application that shows your career objectives and is relevant to the position you are applying for. Customize this part to highlight your qualifications for the government job position by highlighting your abilities and experiences.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) or Ranking Factors

Create a comprehensive list of your skills, focusing on those that are specifically required by the federal job opening. Include both hard and soft skills. You will also be required to give specific examples of duties to prove your possession of their required skills and demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Work Experience

Give a thorough description of your relevant work experience in this part. For each position, include the following information:

  • Job title and name of the employing organization.
  • Start and end dates of employment, including month and year.
  • Number of hours worked per week. Mention if you work full-time or part-time.
  • Detailed list of responsibilities and achievements. Give examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments to prove that you can perform the tasks at the level required for the job as stated in the job announcement.

Expert Tip:

In describing your job duties, be sure to use specific and quantifiable achievements, as this will demonstrate your potential contributions to the federal agency.


Start by listing your educational background with the most current degree you have earned. Include the institution’s name, the degree you got, your major, and the date you graduated. Mention any academic achievements if there were any.

Certifications and Training

Additional certifications and training are frequently valued by federal authorities. Include any pertinent credentials or professional development courses you have taken, especially ones that have a direct bearing on the position you’re after.


Include any military honor or professional award that you received, along with the organization that granted it. You may also want to include the complete date where you received the award, including month and year.

Additional Sections

Don’t restrict yourself to simply including employment that was compensated. Include volunteer or leadership responsibilities in community organizations that are pertinent and show your suitability for the position. This may add value to your job application.

Expert Tip:

Remember to read the job description completely and personalize your CV to the exact criteria of the federal job vacancy. With a well-written federal resume, you’ll be one step closer to landing your desired federal government job.

Federal Resume Keywords You Can Use

In federal applications, applicants must include keywords and phrases that match the official job announcement to ensure your resume is customized to the exact position you are applying for. Fortunately, these job postings, which are frequently available on USAJobs.gov, are specific about the qualifications they seek. This specificity gives you chances to extract plenty of relevant keywords which you can use strategically throughout your resume.

Here are some examples of general federal resume keywords that you can include on your resume:

List Of Keywords You Can Use For A Federal Resume
Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Federal Resume in 2024 1

Download and share our infographic about the List of Federal Resume Keywords.

Proofreading Tips to Improve Your Federal Resume

Federal jobs often come with competitive application processes, and improving your federal resume is critical if you want to acquire a government job. Here are some proofreading suggestions to help you make your federal resume stand out:

Use an easy-to-read font style and USAJOBS-compliant resume layout.

Federal resumes are often longer than regular resumes, ranging from two to five pages in length depending on your expertise. Thus, use a clear font that is easy to read, and format your resume using headings and bullet points to make it appealing to the eye and simple to skim. Do not forget to structure your resume according to USAJobs specific formatting and guidelines.

Proofread your document to see any typos and spelling errors.

Even small spelling errors can give the wrong impression. Use grammar and spelling checks, but don’t rely on them exclusively. Read through the resume several times for any mistakes that might have slipped past your attention.

Keep the verb tenses consistent throughout your document.

Maintain consistent verb tenses throughout your resume. Use the present tense to describe your current position; the past tense to describe previous employment.

Get a second opinion.

Ask a family member, close friend, or colleague to look over your resume for you. In many cases, another set of eyes can spot errors or offer insightful criticism.

Job Seeker Applying The Steps On How To Write A Federal Resume

Best Federal Resume Examples per Industry

Curious about the ideal federal resume format for your industry? Check out our collection of the best federal resume examples tailored for various industries, all written by our team of talented writers:

Health Systems Specialist

Chief Data Officer

Supervisory IT Specialist

Land Your Dream Federal Job with the Help of Our Expert

Writing a federal resume can be difficult since it requires adhering to a precise format. But don’t worry! Our staff of professional federal resume writers is here to help you navigate the procedure with ease. Their familiarity with the specifics of federal job applications and in-depth knowledge of federal hiring procedures will help you develop a strong, organized resume that is specifically geared to highlight your individual qualifications.

Get in touch with us today, and let us help you navigate the challenges of writing a federal resume to help you stand out from the competition.

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