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Answered: What is a "Federal" Resume?

By Mark Arnone

What’s the difference between a federal resume and other resumes? This is a great question and one I’m asked a lot! An awesome federal resume is usually what separates really competitive candidates from other applicants.

To start, federal resumes are usually longer than other types of resumes with which you might be familiar. For instance, the resume you send to a company or non-profit will likely be much shorter. For most applicants, the private sector resume will be one page (or more) depending on seniority and professional experience. Regardless, you should always follow the requirements in the job posting whether it is federal or private sector.

One way to look at your federal resume is by looking at your career experience through a really broad, big-picture lens. This generally means that you’re able and encouraged to be more explanatory. Federal applicants need to demonstrate that they meet all the specific job requirements in the announcement. Each federal job announcement usually has a bullet list of all the requirements.

As an applicant, your resume will generally be more than one page in order fully demonstrate you meet all requirements. To do this, provide specific and detailed information about your experience, skills and abilities. Be as clear and specific as possible to ensure the HR specialist reviewing your resume understands how your qualifications align with the job requirements. Leave nothing to chance and minimize any guesswork for the HR specialist. Remember, federal HR specialists will not make assumptions about your experience so if you’re ever in doubt, providing more information vs. less is usually the safer bet!

Even though federal resumes are longer than private sector resumes, you still need to be strategic. Be selective with what you write. Only include information about your experience and skills that is directly linked to the job requirements. Note: it is fine (and encouraged) to repeatedly demonstrate in various past roles on your resume that you possess a particular skill set. This helps the HR specialist gain a more complete understanding of how your experience and skills align with the job requirements.

Pay close attention to the duties, how you will be evaluated, and the requirements sections of any announcement in These sections provide some of the best descriptors and key themes that you need to include in your federal resume. Finally, make sure your resume is an accurate and honest representation of your skills and abilities.

Questions about and applying to Federal careers/internships? Contact


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