Ask a Coach

Q: I need to update my resume but the thought of it is pretty overwhelming. How should I start?

A: There are two ways you can start updating your resume. If you don't have a specific job you are applying for, you can write a general update. Make sure to include the major responsibilities and accomplishments of your past jobs. If you have a particular type of job you plan to apply for in mind, focus on the responsibilities and accomplishments you believe are important to the job you're looking for. Then you will just have to make minor changes to your resume when it is time to apply for a specific job.

If you already have a job posting you're applying for, you can update your resume by targeting it to that position. Focus on the responsibilities and accomplishments you've documented that directly apply to the position. The best way to do that is to see what desired skills are listed on the job posting. Make sure you focus on those skills when updating your resume. The hiring authority is looking for someone who has those particular skills and they've included them in the job posting for this reason. If you focus on these skills, your application demonstrates that you meet the requirements for the position.

How to Read a Federal Job Opportunity Announcement

When you run a search on the USA Jobs website, you will find a listing of federal job results fitting your particular search criteria. Each of those open positions will have its own write-up, which the federal government calls Job Opportunity Announcements, or JOAs.

Each JOA contains the relevant information about the job, which is the information you should use to fill out an application and write your resume for that position. It's important that you know what is contained in a JOA so that you can do the best job possible applying for that position.

Step 1: Read Carefully

There are some key steps you must take when reviewing a Job Opportunity Announcement. First of all, you must read over the JOA carefully. Fortunately, the Federal government is very clear in letting you know the specific requirements for each position. However, if you don't read over the JOA carefully, you might very well miss one of the requirements and thus your application will be rejected. You don't want to do all of that hard work filling out an application and writing a resume for nothing!

Step 2: Check Requirements

Secondly, after carefully reading the JOA, you'll want to make sure that you fit all of the requirements set out for the position. It is important that you make sure you satisfy the requirements for the relevant GS level for the position. If you don't fit these requirements, your application will be rejected.

Step 3: Customize Your Resume

The next step is to review all of the relevant job duties and skills or competencies required for the job. These are very important to take note of because you'll want to include them in your resume so that you can show the agency that you have the experience they're looking for. If you don't include these skills you have in your resume, then the agency will assume you don't possess them and the chance is greater that your resume will be overlooked.

Step 4: Click All Links

Next, you must make sure that you click on all blue links found within the JOA. It's very easy to overlook these links while reviewing a JOA because you might be so intent on making sure that you don't miss any job requirements. However, these blue links can be just as important as the stated job requirements. These blue links might contain required questionnaires. Sometimes the links might contain Assessment Questions that you'll have to answer as part of your application. You might find very helpful links, as well, that provide you with a checklist of every piece of information or document you need to submit for the position. If you forget to click on a blue link, however, you might end up omitting a required part of the application and thus you'll be taken out of consideration for the position.

If you follow these steps, it's much more likely that your application and resume will be complete and that they will be reviewed for the position. Good luck with your job search!