How To Write A Federal Resume

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If you're applying for a position with the federal government, you're going to need to make additions to your resume that you otherwise wouldn't have to make. This can be difficult for job seekers who don't enjoy the strain that goes into applying for a job because submitting a federal resume is more work than submitting a traditional one.

In this article, we're going to shed some light on what a federal resume is, additions you'll have to make if you decide to apply, and give clear insight on how to write one. Federal resumes are two to three times longer than traditional resumes which is good news for those who feel pinched for space when creating and submitting a traditional resume. The bad news, then, for others is that they might not have enough experience to adequately complete a federal resume. Federal HR personnel places more emphasis on experience than perhaps any other type of hiring managers.

If you'd rather get assistance with writing your federal resume, we have reviewed the best federal resume writing services.

What's The Difference Between A Federal Resume and A Traditional One?

The difference is that in addition to requiring more detail about your experience, they also make you list certain details that often aren't required on traditional resumes.

How To Write A Federal Resume

As you go down this list, keep in mind this is mostly additional things you're going to want to add to your resume, so it is in your best interest to also study articles we have written on creating traditional resumes, and then make the necessary adjustments:

How To Write The Perfect Resume In 9 Steps - make sure you're writing a clear, concise resume that gives a rich, colorful description of you and your experiences. Don't leave any stone unturned.

How To Create A Resume That Stands Out With No Work Experience - if you're just graduating from school, or are a recent veteran, this is a great place to start.

So the keyword in this article is _additional. _

Let's begin:

Every federal job has a job announcement number, title, and grade of the job for which you are applying - this is information you should be able to find on the job posting itself and needs to be included at the top of your federal resume (there are links to examples below).


You're going to need to include your mailing address in addition to the traditional phone number and email. Also, if your country of citizenship is different from the U.S., you will need to specify which country you are a citizen of.


This is a pay scale used by the federal government and applies only to those who have previously been employed by the federal government.


Adding military service or time in the Peace Corps is something a lot of folks would list on a traditional resume, however, with a federal resume, you're going to need to submit verifiable proof of the experience, the details of which can be found here.

Additionally, if you choose to list a disability on your resume, it will need verification as well.


Like with your contact information, you're going to need to provide the physical address of your college, or high school in addition to the name of the college, the degree(s) you hold, and the date you graduated.


In addition to what you normally would include with your experience, you're going to want to add the hours per week you worked, as well as your supervisor and his or her **contact information. **

The detail and length of your experiences is the biggest difference between private and federal resumes, and the federal ones require a lot more, basically however much you can remember (so long as it's pertinent to the position). For example, listing on a private resume that you "managed a team of 10 salesmen that often met, and often exceeded sales quotas" seems like a very reasonable bullet point to have. But on a federal resume, you'd want to say what the day-to-day responsibilities of the people you managed were.

Same thing with listing your skills. A good rule of thumb is that a bullet point or sentence on a private resume could be a paragraph for a federal one. Don't worry about the space, either. Traditional resumes are usually 1-2 pages in length, and federal resumes are in the 3-5 range, so the people reading your resume are used to a more comprehensive scope of your experience.

Here is's example of the format you can use for a federal resume and here are actual samples of some. If you have any experience with traditional resumes you will see that these are far and away more comprehensive.

Additionally, you're going to want to include any awards, honors, or accomplishments as well as certificates or licenses you may have received, something that you may not always have room for on a traditional resume.

Use The Proper Vernacular

Join The Break Community

Oftentimes veterans apply to jobs in the government, so it is important to remember that you shouldn’t use military lingo on your federal resume. Taking the job posting into consideration, it should have a clear overlaying message that demonstrates how your experiences correlate with the description of the job you’re applying to. Also, because of the length, it is a good idea for you to add page numbers.


What Purpose Does The Lengthy Federal Resume Serve?

The federal government is by far the largest employer in the United States, employing over 2.1 million people as of this writing. Government jobs are highly coveted because of the generous benefits and position longevity. Because they’re the largest employer in the country, one could assume that they also receive the most job applications, as well. Because of this, they have developed a system where you can’t make any assumptions based on your resume.

The hiring process is highly regulated and if irregularities are found with your resume there could be an Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) complaint or even a call from congress. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. To avoid costly snafus like these, submitted resumes are required to be much more detailed.

What Is A Vacancy Announcement and Why Is It Important When Writing a Federal Resume?

Vacancy announcements are a fancy way of saying job postings. It is in your best interest to match your resume to a posting that catches your eye by highlighting past experiences and achievements you’ve had in previous roles, and explain how they are relevant to the position at hand. If you don’t do this and approach your federal job search with a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, your resume will quickly be discarded. It’s easy to see if someone put in the time to tailor their resume specifically to a position, and perhaps even easier when reviewing federal resumes.

The good news is that it’s a two-way street: job vacancy announcements (JVAs) are usually quite lengthy in their own right, so you will have a lot to work with as you begin to write a matching resume.

8 Jobs That May Require A Federal Resume

Where To Get Help Writing A Federal Resume

Federal resumes are even more challenging than writing regular resumes. They cover more ground and require greater detail. There are resume writing services to help folks with traditional resumes, and we found some that specialize in federal resumes, as well.

Federal Resume Writing Services

Here are our top picks for companies that can help you write your federal resume:


  • Price: $199
  • According to TopResume, “a federal resume is a key tool in the application process. It goes beyond simply sharing your skills and experience to carefully showcase the qualifications for the specific job you are targeting.”
  • Work with the TopResume team on your federal resume today.


  • Price: $139-$299
  • According to the ZipJob team, “obviously, you will still need a well-crafted resume to help you obtain federal employment. But make no mistake; you should not just polish off your old corporate resume and try to use it to land that federal job. There is a clear difference between federal and corporate resumes.”
  • Get started today with ZipJob.


  • Price: $0-$89.95
  • “The entire federal job application process is about demonstrating that you are the ideal candidate by showing your experience and success. Experience even outweighs education for most jobs unless an applicant’s education is part of the value proposition, such as scientist or mathematician jobs,” according to Jobscan.
  • Let Jobscan take care of your federal resume - get started today.


  • Price: $195-$219
  • ResumesPlanet says, “the hiring process used by the federal government is very complex, often requiring extraordinary documentation to be assembled by the applicant. Don't let the size of the packet of documents make you think the resume is any less important to you in landing the position.”
  • Get help with your federal resume today with ResumesPlanet.

Resume Get

  • Price: $149-$349
  • Resume Get is “a trustworthy company with 6 years of experience on the market and 6 federal resumes delivered to happy customers. Our team guarantees 2 times more job interviews.”
  • Take action and work with the Resume Get team today.

USA Jobs

  • Free
  • is a great place to start. They hold free webinars that walk you through creating a federal resume, as well as the application process to federal jobs.

Related: The Best Federal Resume Writing Services

When Should You Use A Federal Resume Writing Service?

This entirely depends on a number of different variables. Mainly, writing is easier for some than it is for others, and some may not have enough experience to land a federal gig. You’re basically staring down the barrel of a five-page document that needs to be flawless in order to gain employment. You’re competing against other qualified candidates (sometimes hundreds of them) so you may need all the help you can get in order to stand out. The position you’re applying to, budget for services like these also weigh in.

You could argue that the cost of resume writing services is minuscule compared to what you could be making if you gain employment. But the question then becomes, where does it all end? There are career coaches that can cost thousands of dollars and the fact of the matter is that some people just can’t afford the help.

How To Select A Federal Resume Writing Service

If you have ever been to a gourmet food store, there are often samples of things like cheeses and jams. Some you’ll like better than others, some you won’t, and some will be too expensive. Like cheese and jam, you can try the above services in a variety of different ways. Each one is different, but the bottom line is that you can get a feel of what it’s like to work with each of the above companies to ascertain whether or not it’s worth the money. After your “free sample” you can also compare features, pricing, and user reviews to make the most educated decision.

Bottom Line

For better or for worse, the federal resume exists and the process probably benefits some, more than others. If you can tolerate spending more time on matching individual resumes to job postings, you enjoy the thorough writing process, it might not be a bad idea to apply for federal employment; especially if you find a vacancy that you think you’d be good at, and that you would enjoy. For some, however, it is simply too much work, and not worth the effort.

As far as the writing services, it really depends on your budget. In a perfect world, you’d spring for one (along with a career coach), but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone has an extra $200 laying around, especially not someone who may be unemployed at the moment. That said, we think it makes sense if it feels right to you; you’re qualified, you want the job, but you can’t seem to piece together the puzzle. In other words, if you feel like you’ve got a shot and getting the job based on your experience, a writing service, like TopResume, is probably a good investment.