Federal Resume

The federal resume is a document included in official applications for open positions within the Federal Government. You have to develop one version using the resume builder on USAjobs.gov but can also create another version (which gives you more formatting options) to upload as an additional document to your application. The federal resume is the most widely accepted document used in the Federal Government application process. Federal resumes should highlight where, when, and how long the applicant held a position as well as any additional pertinent information or skills that apply to the job description. Though thorough, they are clear and concise documents and must include all the details that support the job qualifications. ~ Trachtenberg School Career Development Services

Traditional vs. Federal Resume

Traditional Resume vs. Federal Resume

Traditional ResumeFederal Resume
One to two pages.Approximately three to four pages but can be longer. It is common for federal resumes to be longer than average, so do not cut out important details to try to fit your resume to one to two pages.
Scanned by software or human eyes.a Federal Human Resources Specialist reviews your resume and application materials to evaluate your qualifications.
Bullet accomplishments; use simple bullet symbols.Use a narrative to highlight your position responsibilities and bullets to show your key accomplishments. The narrative should consist of a small paragraph and be organized to match the responsibilities and qualifications from the job announcement. Your bullets should showcase your knowledge, skills, abilities, and core competencies.
Margins should be between .5-1.0 inches. No larger, no smaller.USA Jobs Builder has its own way of formatting. Text should be flushed left and ragged right. If you're not using USA Jobs Builder, then chose one of the following formats that works best for you: chronological, functional, or combination formatting.
Highlight details or emphasize certain points through consistent usage of bold, italicized, capitalized, or underlined text.For USA Jobs Builder, you can’t include bold, italics, bullets, or underlines. Instead, use ALL CAPS to highlight important details.
Send resume directly to the organization. If sent electronically, resume is in PDF format.Federal resumes are submitted either on USAjobs.gov or sent directly to the agency as in a PDF format.

Additional Formatting Resources:

  • DHS Tips for Writing Federal Resumes
  • Federal Resume Myths
  • National Archives and Records Administration: The Federal Resume Guide
  • Federal Job Search Engines
    Fast Facts


  • Keep your resumes to 3 OR 4 pages, unless you have significant experience.
  • Make an account on USAJOBS. Through this online source you can update your profile information and customize your resume to fit positions.
  • Continue to manage your USAJOBS resume through your email ID.
  • Update your job preferences as human resource specialists often search for candidates.
  • Include a current and relevant goal for all resumes that you create and upload on USAJOBS.
  • Name your resumes carefully if you have more than one in your USAJOBS account to make sure that the resume name matches the position you are applying for at that time.
  • DON'T

  • Include your full social security number. Use the last four digits.
  • Only bullet your accomplishments. Use a narrative as well to highlight your responsibilities.
  • Use a condensed style of writing.
  • Use abbreviations.
  • Write one federal resume and use it for all of your positions.
  • Submit your traditional resume as your federal resume.
  • Only depend on your uploaded federal resume as some agencies still want to see the USAJOBS resume builder version so submit both to cover all your bases.