How to Start a Federal Resume Writing Project: Military and Veterans


“I’m currently active duty military, and I’m looking to transition into a second career with the federal government.  I was wondering how your service works.  Do I give you my performance reports, and you turn them into a resume?  I do not have a current resume, and I haven’t targeted a specific job announcement as of yet.”


Even without a current resume, we can certainly help you translate your military (and previous) experience into a federal resume targeted toward a particular occupational series or job announcement. However, you would need to do some initial legwork to locate and prepare the necessary background information. Here is how our process works:

Step 1: Collect Your Information

You will need to send us your:

  • Name, address, email address, and phone number
  • SMART transcript (containing your military training and certifications)
  • Education that is not on the SMART transcript (name of school, degree, number of credit hours)
  • Awards and honors
  • Fitness Evaluations for the last 10 years

Please remember to delete / black out your Social Security number on any documents that you send to us.

Step 2: Create Your Work History Chronology

You will also need to type up your work history, including the following details for each position:

  • Job title, MOS, and rank
  • Office or program
  • Base name
  • City, state, country
  • Start date (month and year required) and end date (month and year required)
  • Current supervisor’s name and contact info
  • Hours worked per week if not full time
  • Salary per year (optional)

Step 3: Phone Interview for Additional Background Information

We start our writing projects by talking with you about your information, identifying the gaps, and getting accomplishment stories from you that will make your resume stand out.

We will also talk about your target vacancy announcement or occupational series, because this information is critical to writing an effective resume. If you don’t have a target job in mind, we recommend our Federal Career Coaching service to place you in the right grade and job titles and discuss your federal job search strategy more in detail.

Step 4: We Draft Your Initial Resume

Using all of the information from above, we will then create your first basic outline format federal resume with keywords and accomplishments.

Step 5: Perfecting Your Resume

The first draft will usually identify additional gaps in information, and we will continue to work with you to ensure that your resume is complete and carefully targeted toward your desired position.

Many of our military clients can target two different job titles, so keep in mind that we can also write you a second resume if you are qualified to apply for more than one type of position.

Ready to Get Started?

This process takes time, so be aware that we need 7 to 10 business days to complete these five important steps. Do not wait to start this process until you have found an ideal job announcement closing in a day or two. Plan ahead, start early, and contact us for a free estimate!


Finding Your Perfect Match

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Some people approach a federal job search like they would approach buying a home.

“Here is my wish list: gourmet kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, in a good neighborhood with great schools, close commute, and within my ridiculously low budget.”

Or, they might start surfing on USAJOBS and end up like a child in a candy shop.

“Oh, wow, look at that job posting! I have always wanted to do that! And it’s in Hawaii! Sweet!”

And then there is reality…

…where the competition for the 5,000 jobs posted today on USAJOBS is simply fierce. Think of it this way: trying to land one of those jobs is, in some ways, more like taking your driving test than buying a new home.

You have to pass the test.

Passing means that you are qualified TODAY to do the job that is posted, not sometime in the future after some on-the-job training (with some exceptions such as Pathways postings.)

Passing means that you must have the one year specialized experience specified in job announcement, or it’s a no-go for you.

Passing means that you have to score basically 90 or better on your assessment questionnaire.

Think it’s easy to pass this test?

I recently helped a woman who had been working at a National Park for many years as an extremely high performing GS-7. They wanted her for the next level position, which was classified at GS-11. Even though she was acting in that new position for several months already, she did NOT qualify for the GS-11 position. Luckily for her, they accommodated her and posted the position for GS-9/11. She was able to make the cert for GS-9, but barely! Even with all of her qualifications, she just squeaked into the “Qualified” category.

Here is where the fun really begins.

After you pass the minimal qualifications test and are deemed “Qualified,” the rat race starts, and now your odds are more like those of applying for an Ivy League college. Of all candidates who were rated as Qualified, you must rise above the crowd to be chosen for the select group title “Best Qualified.” Then you must go through another magical formula to be “Referred” in order to get your resume forwarded to the hiring supervisor. If you make it that far, you still have to be selected for an interview. Once that is accomplished, you have to make a final sprint to the finish line and beat out the rest of the interviewees for the grand prize of a job offer.

Crazy, right?

So what does this all mean?

It means that finding the perfect match for you is more about looking at your past history than looking at your hopes and dreams for the future.

Of course, you absolutely CAN look to the future. If you have goals for your federal career, you will simply need to plan ahead to position yourself for your ideal job somewhere down the line.

So the common sense tip for your federal resume is this: Be the perfect match for the job opening to increase your chances of getting hired.

Tune in for next time: Finding your perfect match if you are coming from private industry or wanting to make a career change within the federal government


paulina_b&w_200x133Paulina Chen has a passion for taking the complex and making it simple for people to understand. Paulina has been a graphic designer, developmental editor, and webmaster for The Resume Place for over 10 years. Since receiving her Certified Federal Job Search Trainer certification, she has been eager to show federal applicants that writing your best possible federal resume is within your reach. If you need more writing help with your federal resume, contact us for an absolutely free estimate. If you need expert advice or training, Kathryn Troutman the “Federal Resume Guru” is your best bet on the planet.

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