Ask a Coach

Q: I have participated in a lot of job-related training. Which training should I include on my resume?

A: Include the training that is most relevant to the position you are applying for. If you include every training you've ever been to or taken, there's a greater likelihood that the important training will get lost within the less important training. Not sure which training experience is relevant? Look at the Duties and Qualifications sections in the Job Opportunity Announcement on USAJobs or the requirements listed on the private sector job announcement. If your job-related training supports those Duties and Qualifications, leave it in. If it doesn't support the Duties and Qualifications, take it out. Culling down the training listed and including only the most relevant training will help make your resume even stronger than it already is.

Dressing for Success

When it comes to what to wear to an interview, your goal is for the interviewer to concentrate on what you're saying and not what you're wearing. Here are a few suggestions that will help you dress for the job you want, without distracting the interviewer.


Many employers feel more conservative colors convey a sense of professionalism. In the federal sector in particular, conservative clothing is favored. Therefore, it's a safe bet to stick to a conservative palette of black, white, dark blue, and dark grey. You can pair this with a classic white button-down shirt or incorporate a splash of a more vibrant color that speaks to your personality.

In general, your interview apparel should be one step above what would be worn daily on the job. Wear a suit when appropriate or at the very least a nice pair of pants or skirt with a collared shirt or blouse. Clothing that is too tight or revealing can leave an unfavorable impression. Clothing that is too loose can make you look like a kid wearing your dad's suit. Make sure your interview apparel fits you well.


Men: Wear no more than one ring on each hand and a watch. Don't wear any other jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces or earrings. The tip of the tie should come to the center of your belt buckle. Have a clean shave and keep beards and mustaches trimmed neatly. Your shoes should be polished.

Women: Make-up should be simple. Avoid bright colors or too heavy an application. Wear simple, non-dangling earrings, a necklace and a watch, no more than one ring per hand and no more than one bracelet. If you wear a skirt, make sure it's knee-length, as it should cover your knees while seated. Wear medium heel pumps without open toes or backs.

Men and Women: Your nails should be filed and clean, and your hair should be neat and professional. Body piercings and visible tattoos still carry a stigma with some employers, so make sure you take your piercings out or cover your tattoo. It doesn't mean that you can't have a tattoo, however, you might have to keep it covered while at work.


If the interviewer can smell the cologne or perfume before seeing you, you're wearing too much.  Aside from just having too much fragrance, asthma, migraines and allergies can be very real issues when interacting with others.  It's better to wear little or no fragrance so it's not a distraction.


Although you might feel that your interview apparel has taken away some of your personality, don't forget to be you! People like to work with people with personality and your interviewer will want to get a sense of who you are. Incorporate small signature elements of your personality in your outfit and include things that will make you feel happy and confident during your interview.

Remember, first impressions are formed when the interviewer first sees and greets you. Professionalism, confidence and competence are the keys to success. Just make sure you don't go over the top.