How To Quickly Target Your Federal Resume

You’re not one of those job seekers who tends to avoid taking chances on positions because the job posting looks intimidating, are you?

If you’ve considered applying for a federal job but found the job announcement on USAJobs so daunting to read that you skipped on back to Indeed, I’m telling you right now that you’re likely qualified for more positions than you’re taking chances on!

The job announcements on USAJobs are lengthy because of the federal requirements that the agencies have to follow for hiring compliance. Often, most of the details in a job announcement are completely irrelevant to your federal resume. Clearly you need to pay special attention to the “This job is open to” and “How To Apply” sections, but there are really only a couple of paragraphs that need your attention when targeting your federal resume.

Here’s how to target your federal resume quickly and get your federal application submitted without losing your patience with novel-length job announcements.

How To Quickly Target Your Federal Resume | Off The Clock Resumes

1 | Make The Job Announcement Easier To Analyze

Job announcements on are incredibly long! You have to get through paragraphs of Duties, Requirements, Required Documents, and more before you even get to the application instructions (which has multiple paragraphs itself!). There’s an easier way to analyze a lengthy job posting than in its original form.

Copy-and-paste the text of the whole job announcement into a Word document that you can manipulate and alter to get to the keywords and phrases you need.

2 | Identify Any Keywords or Phrases

Once you have the job announcement in a Word document, skip ahead and start analyzing the Qualifications paragraphs under the Requirements section. This section will usually identify any required Specialized Experience that you will need to demonstrate clearly in your federal resume. Here’s an example from a Human Resources Specialist job announcement:

“Your resume must demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-09 grade level or pay band in the Federal service or equivalent experience in the private or public sector. Specialized experience must demonstrate the following: researching and interpreting laws, regulations, policies and precedents to provide advice, counsel and guidance to managers on employee and labor relations issues.

In this example, your keywords and phrases are already in bold for you in the job announcement. You’ll also want to look at the How You Will Be Evaluated paragraphs in the Requirements section as well. Here’s an example from the same job announcement:

“You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

In order to qualify for this position, your resume must provide sufficient experience and/or education, knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the duties of the specific position for which you are being considered. Your resume is the key means we have for evaluating your skills, knowledge, and abilities as they relate to this position. Therefore, we encourage you to be clear and specific when describing your experience.

When the application process is complete, we will review your resume to ensure you meet the hiring eligibility and qualification requirements listed in this announcement. You will be rated based on the information provided in your resume and responses to the Occupational Questionnaire, along with your supporting documentation to determine your ability to demonstrate the following competencies:






This identifies another five keywords and phrases that need to be showcased in your federal resume. Don’t forget to preview the Application Questionnaire to make sure you aren’t forgetting any other important keywords or phrases; often, they’re repetitive but don’t risk it.

3 | Remove The Rest Of The Noise

Once you’ve bolded, underlined, or highlighted the keywords and phrases you’ll need to focus on in your federal resume, remove the rest of the noise. Delete all of the text in that document that doesn’t speak directly to the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) indicated. These details are simply distractions that are not necessary for writing a job-winning federal resume.

Once you have removed the rest of the noise, you should have a clear list of keywords and phrases that you will focus on when creating your federal resume.

4 | Turn Your List Into Statement Headings

Since your federal resume will be read by Human Resource Specialists rather than software, a key strategy to making sure your federal resume gets the highly coveted “Best Qualified and Referred” ranking is to use these keywords and phrases as statement headings throughout your resume. These statement headings will make the keywords and phrases quick and easy to find when skimming your resume. They also improve the organization of your federal resume for the in-depth read.

To turn the keywords and phrases into statement headings, simply separate them into categories and capitalize them like this:







5 | Describe Your Experiences With Each

Next, describe your experiences with each across your work history. Describe how you demonstrated the KSA and why it was necessary. Do your best to quantify and give contents to your statements since these will be used to differentiate you and your experiences from other candidates’.

These statements will make up the bulk of your federal resume by replacing a paragraph job summary with a far more detailed account of your experiences.

6 | Showcase Your Achievements With Each

Finally, employers love measurable achievements so draw attention to your achievements that relate to these KSAs for each job that you have held. You can summarize your achievements in one “Highlights of Achievements:” section beneath all of your statements. Alternatively, feel free to list you “Highlights of Achievements” under each statement if you have several achievements for each statement

Your achievement statements should introduce the results or achievements first and then describe how you achieved it or demonstrated the KSA to achieve it.

Use Microsoft Word to manipulate the job announcement and make it easier to identify the KSAs your federal resume should focus on.