Ask a Coach

Q: Does it really matter if I make mistakes with grammar or punctuation in my resume?

A: I know this might seem like nitpicking, but it's absolutely important to make sure you use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in your resume. It's important to keep in mind that everything the resume reviewer knows about you is what's written in your resume. They'll have to make assumptions about your experience and skills based upon what you've written. If you submit a resume riddled with grammatical errors, the reviewer might assume either you don't have a good grasp of these areas, or more likely, that you didn't take the time to correct these mistakes. Many times they're just that, mistakes, but the reviewer doesn't know this. Instead they'll see the mistakes as lack of attention to detail. Nearly every position in the Federal government, especially with TSA, requires attention to detail, and you don't want to give the impression right off the bat that this is a skill you don't have. So don't forget to proofread!

The Importance of Reading and Following the Job Announcement

For those who have applied for Federal positions, you'll remember searching for, viewing, and utilizing a job announcement via USAJobs in order to apply. Rarely will you find private sector job announcements quite so detailed as their Federal counterparts.

This works to the benefit of Federal applicants because the job announcement lays forth the information you need to give yourself the best shot at progressing through the hiring process. This also means you'll need to make sure you follow the instructions to the letter so your hiring process is not stopped.

Know the Requirements

The first thing you must do is ensure you read the job announcement completely. You must take the time to read word-for-word the requirements of the position and the requirements for applying. If you miss one step of these instructions you risk your resume no longer being considered for the position. You might even want to make yourself a checklist to ensure you've satisfied all requirements of the announcement.

Tailor Your Resume

As I mentioned earlier, Federal job announcements are very specific as to what experience and certifications are necessary for the job, as well as everything that needs to be include in your resume and application. Look to the Job Overview, Duties, and Qualifications sections and make sure you include this information in your resume. Tailoring your resume to the announcement requirements is the most critical thing you can do to increase your chances of making the Best Qualified List. You'll also want to make sure you look to the Job Requirements, Additional Information and Required Documents sections to ensure you don't miss any requirements, especially if you're applying for a position with an agency you don't know as well as TSA.

Preview the Occupational Questionnaire

One section of the job announcement that's very important to review is "How to Apply." Not only does it cover specific requirements for the position; it covers how you'll be evaluated for the position. For most agencies, this will be where you'll find the link to the Vacancy/Occupational Questionnaire that you will have to fill out as part of your application. You'll be able to view this Questionnaire ahead of time so you can include your experience relevant to the Questionnaire in your resume.

Click Through

It's also very important to click on any of the blue links in the job announcement. Those links can include definitions of terms you're unfamiliar with, lists of required documents or information, or instructions on applying for the position, among other information.

Double Check

Once you've gone over these sections and you've finished working on your resume and application, before pressing "apply," make sure you read over Required Documents again. It's crucial you include all this information with your application.

Let the job announcement be your guide as you apply for Federal positions. This is one important way to increase your chances of success!