Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

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Tough love – USAJOBS resume builder can yield big results with a federal job

Remember when your parents told you to eat your vegetables because they're good for you?

Well, that’s what I do now when I am coaching and reviewing resumes for federal applications. I say this to my job seeking clients: “First, set up your account and copy and paste your resume into the USAJOBS Builder and fill out all the required fields. Then I can review the resume for improving the duties and responsibilities descriptions and talk about the keywords and accomplishments.”

This past week, I have seen way too many template resumes with colorful bars, double columns and short, cute bullet information. I have also seen quite a few narrative functional resumes with the employment section at the end, after quite a few big paragraphs of skill narratives that I don’t want to read. Additionally, I see a lot of the short bullet resumes that are very popular.

None of these formats will get a qualified candidate a federal job. The BIG pitfalls that a job seeker might fall into, are these:

  • If you don’t include Month/ Year and Hours per Week for your really critical positions, you might lose consideration for the job.
  • If you don’t write a reverse chronological resume with duties and responsibilities written to support each job, you could lose consideration for the position.

  • And, if the resume is not in the same format as the Resume Builder (reverse chronological), you will probably lose consideration.

Federal HR specialists prefer the USAJOBS Builder format, so why not use it? The job world is filled with resume builders now. This evening, I set up an account in TARGET’s website. And I applied for a job. I could have uploaded my resume, but I wanted to see their required information. So, I filled out their online application and resume builder.

Then I tested out an online resume template system, LiveCareer, Inc. That was fun and really colorful. It came out with orange bars and blue bars. And I loved it for private sector resumes. But again, I was copying and pasting the resume content into fields and a builder system.

If you don’t complete the builder for a Sprint position, you won’t get hired. They won’t take any attachments at all. If it’s not in the builder, you don’t work there.

So, it is time for tough love now. Eat your vegetables and fill out the USAJOBS Builder. After the builder is complete, you can save your resume and then go back and work on the duties and responsibilities sections and make them stand out more, match the job announcement, and add a good story to keep the HR person reading and turning the pages.

Posted on Feb 16, 2016 at 9:37 PM


Reader comments

Tue, Nov 13, 2018 Haakon Dahl Yokosuka, Japan

Re: my previous comment: FOUND IT! --- In order to duplicate a resume in USAJOBS, back out of any process you might be in. From the home page, go to DOCUMENTS, and on the RESUMEs tab, you will see resumes listed, and those built in the BUILDER will have an option to DUPLICATE. Ta-daaa!

Tue, Nov 13, 2018 Haakon Dahl Yokosuka Japan

Love the tough love! Bought your book twice. Been doing the USAJOBS Builder process recently. VERY interested in copying the existing BUILDER resume to modify for another position. Would like to avoid the lengthy process of re-importing *everything* when most of it will not change at all. They (internet "they") say it used to be possible circa 2010. USAJOBS has been re-built since then, and I do not see any way to re-use the data already entered for another resume. Any tips? Thank you!

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