Mistakes in Federal Resumes

I found this article on military.com and, having been getting much experience in this arena of submitting federal resumes on USAJOBS, thought this may be interesting to anybody doing the same or those who have done so and can’t get past initial HR screening/qualification. Also.. for my own reference if/when I apply for other positions.

A newly separated or retired military person must have a good resume to begin their next career. More than half of the military would like to land a federal position where they can continue to utilize their DOD skills and abilities, or where they can continue in public service.

Even if a veteran has 5 or 10 points due to a disability, it is important that your resume get you Qualified, if you are to take advantage of veterans’ preference programs.

The biggest problem is that a federal resume “the one-and-only application for a federal job” is not the same as a private industry resume. And the federal resume must be targeted toward a specific position in the government. Here are 18 common problems that I see when I review resumes by military and former military who are seriously applying for federal jobs. How many of the mistakes below do you have on your federal resume? Are you getting Best Qualified and Referred? If not, review this checklist by a Federal Resume guru and determine which of these common mistakes should be fixed or changed.

1. Resumes are not translated in terms of duties and responsibilities from military terminology into federal job duties. Employers will literally have NO idea what you are doing in your job and how it can relate to any position in government.

2. Resumes still include acronyms and nouns that are strictly military and not transferrable to public service, and few HR specialists will understand.

3. Resumes are written based on the fitness evaluations. They are basically copied and pasted into the resume with no context or description. The sentences are choppy, incomplete and do not tell a whole story.

4. Resumes are too short. There is simply not enough content to get Best Qualified.

5. The dates in the resume are just messed up. Either the resume has one beginning and ending date for the entire military career, or there are too many dates and locations for the military career. It is critical that the HR specialist see the months and years of your most recent assignments, so they can see if you have One Year of Specialized Experience in the field of work of your target announcement.

6. The military person uses an overseas address, even when they are coming back to the US in a month or so. HR departments need to see where you live in the US.

7. The basic competencies that are developed in the military are not featured in the resume. For example, the HR specialist will not be able to see that the military person is skilled as a Team Leader, has excellent communications or Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills or is flexible.

8. Accomplishments with a few details are usually not added into the resume and if they are in the resume, they are combined with the basic duties and therefore, the accomplishment is hard to find. Each resume must have 2 to 5 accomplishments that can stand out, so you can get referred or offered an interview.

9. Keywords from the vacancy announcement are not used in the new resume. Keywords are words that are repeated from the announcement and represent critical skills needed for high performance on the job.

10. Little or no attention is paid to the fact that the announcement must include the One Year of Specialized Experience in the resume. Read the Qualifications section and feature that experience in your resume.

11. Little or no attention is paid to the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) required in the announcement and should be covered in the resume. KSAs are critical to get Best Qualified and Referred.

12. Training may be included in the resume, but it does not include the number of hours for courses, the year completed, the full title of the training, etcetera. Sometimes certain hours of training or certification is mandatory.

13. Awards and recognitions may or may not be in the resume. These are impressive and can help with getting Referred.

14. The resume is not written against the OPM Qualification Standards. There is almost NO resemblance to a specific occupational series. If the resume does not match an OPM Standard, you will probably not get Best Qualified.

15. Most resumes are impossible to read because they are a long list of bullet statements or a huge block of type that no busy HR specialist will possibly read. The bullet resume format is difficult to read.

16. Most resumes do not match the Questionnaire at all. The Questionnaire is a TEST, and your resume must verify your answers.

17. Many resumes include all jobs, which may not be relevant, may be short, or repetitive in the chronology. The chronology can be too simplified or too complex. HR specialists want to read the last 5 or 10 years. The rest of the information can be summarized.

18. Many resumes are uploaded into the USAJOBs application and therefore are missing important information, such as months and year; hours per week; supervisor names and phones; training and other important information for HR to review. I recommend the resume builder, over the upload feature.

In summary, a compliant federal resume that is targeted toward an announcement is critical to get Qualified, Best Qualified Referred, interviewed and hired.

Sample Successful USAJOBS Federal Resume: You can see a sample of a successful federal resume at www.vetfedjobs.org. Check out the “Outline Format federal resume” for USMC Jeremy Denton who landed a great job with TSA as a GS 9 with this resume. You can also see the required information for a federal resume from VAforVets at this website.

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