Jack of All Trades? One Resume or Several?

Many long-time federal employees struggle with focusing their federal resume when they are seeking new positions or promotions. After 10 or 20 years, a typical federal employee has worn at least 4 to 6 “hats” and can be qualified for several different occupational series. The goal is to be deemed “best qualified” to be referred to a supervisor and invited to interview. The “Jack of All Trades” federal resume approach is not recommended. It’s best to focus each resume toward one or two occupational series and even three series, which are closely related with functional or technical skills. Let’s analyze John’s dilemma in writing and targeting his federal resume.

John is a GS-13 with 20 years of experience who is looking for a new position. He says, “I am the jack of all trades with experience in Human Resources, Budget, Finance, Procurement, Facilities, Asset Management, IT Project Management, Program Analysis, Supervision, Capital Planning and Investment Control to name (my specialties) that come to mind. I understand that each job must be tailored, but with the job market like it is, I think I need to leverage all my experience and consider many types of positions.”

It is important to understand that some resume writing strategies are better than others. John has two options. He can write one resume covering all of the different accomplishments and skills he possesses or create at least four or more different resumes that each feature a certain skill set and add accomplishments for each skill set tailored to the specific job he is apply for, while leaving out irrelevant and old experience. Remember, human resources specialists and supervisors will review your last 10 years of experience, so make sure you only analyze, write and present the specialized areas of expertise for these recent positions.

In John’s example, I would recommend four different resumes.

Since John performs budget, finance and procurement duties for more than 50 percent of his day, this should be the first resume. Each of the specialized areas requires a paragraph to describe the scope of work. For a GS-13, this resume requires a description of the financial responsibilities, examples of financial and budget reports, and procurement activities for customers. John should add accomplishments and specific details for all three specializations.

John has been also been working in the facilities, assets, investments and capital planning division of a large department. This position involves facilities oversight and real estate management. This is a very specialized series, thus it is important to make this John’s second resume. It will require accomplishments and detailed descriptions of assets and capital planning projects. The set of skills for this type of a position is specific and there will be fewer jobs available in Facilities and Asset Management at the GS-13 level.

Program Analysis and project management is the most general of the skill sets and could be the most marketable. In this third resume, John needs to demonstrate how he analyzes programs for efficiency and effectiveness; utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods; writes and presents briefs; consults with program participants; advises on solutions; and gives recommendations. This occupational series is popular and he should be able to find these positions in every agency and every state.

Throughout John’s career, he has managed daily operations, supervised staff, written position descriptions, trained staff, ensured work performance and managed the office budget. Therefore, John’s fourth resume should include his roles as an administrative officer in human resources, supervision and budget. All agencies have administrative officer positions with promotion potential to GS-15.

You don’t go to battle without a plan. If you are seeking to advance or change your career to a new agency or state, you need to first identify your skills sets, then determine the various resume targets and finally begin researching specific new positions. Once you have several resumes drafted, you are primed and ready to launch a solid campaign for your new position.

Kathryn Troutman is the author of The Federal Resume Guidebook. Kathryn is a popular Federal Resume Writing trainer throughout government, teaching the latest KSA in the Resume writing methods. She is founder and president of The Resume Place, Inc., experts in Federal Career Consulting and Federal Resume Writing, a service business located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Get Federal Resume Help!
Our FREE newsletter gives you awesome advice on writing your best federal resume and mastering the USAJOBS application.
Sign up now!