Federal Resume Writing: USAJOBS and Resume Builder

USAJOBS.gov is the official job-search website of the US Government. You have likely used it before if you have applied for a federal position. Along with listing the vast majority of open US government positions, USAJOBS also has an extensive library of resources that provide useful information about various positions and agencies within the government and a database of terminology and FAQs to assist the federal job seeker. The ability to navigate this site goes hand-in-hand with the importance of leveraging key information provided in vacancy postings to maximize the impact of your federal resume.

How do I use USAJOBS and What is Resume Builder?

An important first step to utilizing USAJOBS is creating an account. Make sure you provide accurate contact information and enable the “Make Your Resume Searchable” feature so that agencies can find your resume. When crafting your federal resume, be sure to review the USAJOBS vacancy posting and questionnaire for knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and key phrases to align your resume with the job posting.

After writing a tailored and effective federal resume with a sleek and streamlined design, the next step is to adapt the content for potential entry into the USAJOBS Resume Builder, a feature of USAJOBS that allows users to build components of their resume online rather than providing a full document for submission.

Adapting the Federal Resume to the USAJOBS Resume Builder

It may seem tedious to have to adapt your resume for entry into Resume Builder, a text-only interface. However, some agencies require the use of Resume Builder when submitting your application so it’s essential to write a federal resume that is easily adaptable in terms of formatting and basic design. To streamline the submission process, you should create your federal resume as a standalone document (essentially a USAJOBS resume) that meets all federal resume formatting and content requirements for easy entry into Resume Builder.

When building your standalone USAJOBS resume for Resume Builder, it is crucial to use simple formatting without text styling or bullets. In addition, detailed information about each position regarding employment dates, hours worked, and pay grade will need to be entered manually.

Content that needs to be adjusted to use Resume Builder:
• To ensure that your Career Summary appears at the top of the resume, you will need to enter it as the first job entry.
• Bold and italics should be substituted with all caps, and any special symbols such as ampersands should be avoided unless they are part of an organization’s title.
• Bullets should be substituted with a + sign as this is recognized by Resume Builder.
• You are only allowed 5000 characters for the main body of the resume, so if you exceed this you will need to enter any additional material into the Additional Information section. Federal resume writers generally consider this to be less than ideal, so it’s best to limit your document to fewer than 5000 characters.

The process of writing a federal resume can be time-consuming and requires attention to detail in order to ensure that all requirements regarding resume content, formatting, and submission are achieved. Along with learning how to successfully navigate USAJOBS and crafting a federal resume tailored to your ideal position, there is the additional hurdle of adapting your federal resume to the Resume Builder. To discover more strategies leveraged by experienced government resume writers for effectively managing the federal resume writing and application process, review our comprehensive USAJOBS Resume Guide.

By Erin Wheeler
Erin Wheeler Career Consultant