Ask a Coach

Q: I would love to improve some of my professional skills. Where can I go to do this?

A: Did you know that TSA offers various courses you can take for absolutely free in order to receive various professional certifications or to increase your knowledge base? These web-based training courses are offered through the vendor Skillsoft and cover a whole variety of curriculum.

You can take courses to receive professional certifications and training in the IT industry across various hardware and software platforms. Would you like to improve your Microsoft Office skills? You can do that here. Ever think you'd like to explore Human Resource Management or Project Management? You've found the right place. You can even take Certified Public Accountant continuing professional education or earn you Six Sigma Certification for process improvement.

If you'd like to find out more, you can access the Professional Certification Resources page of the Career Toolbox and you can sign up through the TSA HRAccess webpage.

Using Keywords and Key Phrases to Tailor Your Resume

When you are writing or modifying your resume in order to apply for a job, whether it be a Federal position you found through USAJobs or a private sector position, inserting keywords and key phrases from the job announcement into your resume is critical. This is an important way to show the connection between your experience and the job you're applying for and will increase your chances of making the Best Qualified List and possibly being selected for an interview.

Although you've probably heard the words "keywords" and "key phrases" before, when you sit down to write your resume, figuring out those keywords and phrases might not be as easy as you initially thought it would be. Which words do you need to focus on? Which phrases should you incorporate into your resume?

Key Skills

The first thing you should do is read through the job announcement. Knowing what the position entails, what words are you reading that you think are important to include? Which ones do you think are key skills of the position? What are the roles and responsibilities of the position that you feel are the primary roles for the position? Your answers to those questions will be keywords and phrases that you will want to make sure your resume reflects.

Unusual Wording

Another way to figure out the keywords and phrases to include in your resume is to take note of any words or phrases in the job announcement that stick out when you read them. Did you notice any unusual or particular phrasing? Did you wonder why certain phrases were written the way they were? If any wording sticks out to you, it's probably a keyword or phrase, so make sure to incorporate those words or phrases into your resume. Make sure to focus on the Duties; Qualifications; Knowledge, Skills and Abilities and the skills contained in the job announcement's Occupational Questionnaire when you are determining keywords and phrases.

No Copy Cats

When incorporating keywords and phrases into your resume, please ensure you don't copy entire sentences word-for-word. This will be a red flag to the resume reviewer. Instead, work on incorporating the words and phrases into the resume, focusing on your particular experience. It's more effective and will really show what you can bring to the table, which will me more impactful in the long run.

Word Cloud

One last way to figure out keywords and phrases is to create a word cloud from the job announcement language. Using the website tagcrowd.com, you can select particular sections of a resume, paste them into a search box, and the website will highlight, in a "cloud" form, which words are used most often within that section. If you see a word used multiple times, other than "and" and "the," it's likely a key word and should be included in your resume.

Taking the time to determine keywords and phrases and incorporating them into your resume is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of success in the job hiring process.