Ask a Coach

Q: I need to write a resume from scratch but I'm feeling a little lost. Where should I begin?

A: The best way to start out writing a resume is to create a master resume. A master resume is a list of all positions you've held that you think might be relevant at some point in your job search. You'll want to use your master resume like a template; you'll take out the positions or job duties that don't fit with the position you're applying for and you'll tailor the remaining positions and duties to reflect the duties and qualifications that are listed in the job announcement. Your master resume will be a living document that you add to when you start a new position or accomplish more duties at work. Starting resume writing with a master resume will make the task much less daunting when you're ready to apply for a position!

Creating a Federal Application

You've decided that you want to apply for a Federal job. You've searched for jobs that fit the criteria you're looking for. Now it's time to start applying!

To fill out your application successfully and give yourself the best chance to have your application referred to the hiring manager, there are some steps that you must follow.

Step 1: Prepare Your Documents

A preliminary step is to have all of your necessary documents ready. Some of these documents will be used to write your resume and complete the application; while others will serve as supporting documents that you will need to upload to your account. These documents include: information about prior jobs and education; transcripts, if necessary; your SF-50 "Notice of Personnel Action" form to verify your Federal service; a DD-214 that shows your military service; and other documents that prove your eligibility for non-competitive Federal appointment. If you're unsure what to upload to your account, there is a listing of required documents under the "Qualifications and Evaluations" section of the relevant Job Opportunity Announcement.

Step 2: USA Jobs Profile

Next, create a USA Jobs Profile, if you haven't already. You must have a USA Jobs account and be logged into it in order to create a profile. The profile is where you fill out your contact information, list any special hiring authorities you are qualified for that could expand what jobs you are eligible for, list any job preferences you have, such as traveling and work schedule, and fill out the optional demographic information. The profile will also show your username and password. All of the information in your USA Jobs Profile can be edited or changed at any time.

Step 3: Add Your Resume

Follow up with building your resume or uploading a resume you've already completed. USA Jobs has an excellent resume builder that you can use, but you might prefer uploading your resume because you're then able to control your document formatting and information.

You can have up to five resumes in your profile. If you choose to upload a resume, it can't be more than 3 MB in size. If you choose to build a new resume using the USA Jobs resume builder, you'll find five sections of information: Experience; Education; References; Other; and Preview and Finish. Fill out each section accurately and completely, and make sure your experience is targeted to the job that you are applying for.

Step 4: Click All Links

Once you've completed each section of the USA Jobs resume builder or you have uploaded your complete resume, it's important that you click on any blue link that you see. The majority of Federal jobs will have some sort of occupational questionnaire that will be used to evaluate all candidates for each position. If you miss any requirements for the application, your application will be considered incomplete and unfortunately your resume and application will not be received.

Good luck in the application process!