So, what does it take? How do you, a civilian, beat out those that have served in the military or others in line for these jobs?
The first step to getting into a federal position is to know what you want to do and where. Because it is a government job and not specific to local offices, many of the job postings could be asking that you relocate.
Tailoring Your Resume
Relocating out of graduate school may be attractive to some, but there are many federal jobs available in your home state also. Start there, but keep your options open. If you have nothing to keep you from moving out of your home state, take the plunge and try somewhere new.
After you have considered this possibility, it is now time to tailor your resume to suit federal job requirements. Unlike regular resumes, a federal resume may run 4-5 pages. A federal resume requires more details about your skills, achievements, education and reasons for wanting for work for them.
Make sure that the description of your skills is parallel to the job postings:
- And requirements
Keep Your Resume Relevant
In the federal government, you may be thinking that sending your standard resume to many different agencies is the way to get a quick reply, but it isn’t. You must tailor your resume to the job posting you are applying for. Using the keywords in that particular job posting is the way to get noticed.
For each skill that you list on your resume, give a summary of how you achieved that skill, how long you practiced it and what having it did for any other employer that you have worked for.
If you are a student looking to work for the federal government, apply for entry-level positions so that your Human Resources manager will know how to treat your application.
Modernize Your Resume
Being associated with job search sites is a good idea. When you put your email address in the heading make it link to your web page or your LinkedIn web page. This is an impressive addition to your resume.
Do not add your full address when creating your heading. This could lead to the theft of your identity.
Be selective when choosing a font, you want to choose one that is professional. Choose fonts such as Calibri, Segoe UI, or Georgia. Using these standards will transfer between operating systems well.
Bulleted points and bolded text help the skimmer. Human resource managers read hundreds if not thousands of resumes a week. Make sure if they are skimming through yours, they are landing on information that is relevant.
Objectives are becoming outdated, it is better to give the HR manager a summary of what you can bring to the company. That is their first concern.
It’s in the Numbers
When describing your skills, and summarizing their importance to the federal job posting you are applying for, numbers are what will impress the federal officials in charge of hiring you.
Give them the percentages, numbers and data that was key in impacting change where you work now, or in past employment. You can also list numbers when it comes to charity work you have done or groups and clubs you are associated with.
Blow Your Horn Loud
When it comes to your knowledge and accomplishments, it is time to really show off on your resume. The federal government is going to be choosing the best of the best, and you will be thoroughly vetted for any position that is posted.
Give it your all, don’t be afraid to lay it on thick, and be ready to back it up with proof at the interview. Include the following:
- Volunteer service
- Charitable contributions
- Social event planning
- Your awards and certificates (list them all)
- Sorority and Fraternity memberships (you never know if one of the hiring officials is a member also)
You can be sure that if you list something on your resume that the HR manager is familiar with, they will question it at the interview. Be ready to answer all questions about whatever you include. Every part of the application must reinforce your skills.
Use Straight Forward Language
Although you are going to be putting more information in this type of resume than a regular one, do not be overly wordy. Steer away from information that is irrelevant to the job posting.
We like to show off all that we have learned in college, but it is not necessary to include a sculpture class if you are applying for a position as an office manager.
You want to demonstrate on your resume that you are the qualified candidate for the position listed. Make your job history, achievements, and your resume’s design pop out to the reader.
You want to leave an impression with the hiring manager so that you get the interview, and your resume is what gets you to the interview process.
Stay away from abbreviations when listing organizations that you have been involved with. Your reader may not know what you are talking about when you abbreviate/use acronyms.
Check it, then Check it again.
Not all, but you can be sure that some hiring managers are sticklers for grammar. Sitting there, reading one resume after another. You want to be that resume that wows them, by not having mistakes in grammar and spelling. Don’t rely on word processors to correct all your mistakes. Ask someone to help you by reviewing it for you. Do it at least twice.
Take note of the job announcement number that is familiar to most government positions. If you are now in a federal position, be sure to indicate the grade you are in at present, and for what agency of the government you presently work for. You may be eligible for preference because of this.
You will be asked what job number you are applying for on several occasions, be prepared to have it available. HR is handling hundreds of thousands of applicants other than yours.
Where are the Federal Job Postings?
Finding job listings posted from country to country is just a click away. Look for the Public services commissions in your country to see what is available. Graduates are encouraged to apply for internships. Applying months in advance of your graduation date is suggested.
All the federal jobs listing sites will have details about:
- Minimum qualifications
- Full application instructions
- Benefits packages
- Salary expectations
There are many government agencies to choose from that cover everything from the air we breathe to the agriculture we grow. No matter what your field of study you can be sure to find what you are looking for within the federal government.
If you never have tried to navigate the federal system of job postings, it can be a daunting task. Take your time to get to know the process and begin submitting your resume to specific agencies.
Callbacks are going to be slow going but be persistent. Remember you are not the only one vying for these positions. Give them time to get back to you. Keep checking back to see if the job posting that you applied to has closed.
If it has closed, contact the hiring manager to see if you are in the running for the position. If not, ask why not and what it is you could have done differently to gain an interview.
Browsing through to the sites and making sure you keep your keywords in mind for your related field is important to get the best results. Also:
- Follow the directions closely. This is almost as important as grammar.
- Create a sign-in account for each site that you visit and leave your resume.
- Make sure that each site can reply to your email address by adding them to your contact list. This is so their replies will not be sent to the spam folder.
- Check back regularly for updates and new job postings. Remember, you may not get a position that you have studied in academia, but that is okay