The job outlook for Information Technology (IT) professionals has never been better.
Almost any jobs forecast you consult will show high growth in multiple IT-related fields. Some of the top disciplines noted in key career sites include: Software Developer, Computer Systems Analyst, Information Security Analyst, Web Developer, IT Manager, and IT Project Manager. Take a look at US News & World Reports – 100 Best Jobs, Glassdoor, CareerCast, and even information provided to students by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and you will repeatedly see high job growth forecasts for many IT careers. The same is certainly true in the Federal Government, which offers all of the same types of IT Specialist positions found in private industry. A recent search of IT Specialist vacancy announcements in USAJOBS (2210 series) resulted in 482 hits, over 200 of which were open to the general public (“U.S. Citizens”).
There are so many IT opportunities in the Federal Government, that the Information Technology Group (2210) is, in fact, further subdivided into 11 Specialty Titles often included in parentheses in the job announcement:
- Policy and Planning (PLCYPLN)
- Network Services (NETWORK)
- Enterprise Architecture (ENTARCH)
- Data Management (DATAMGMT)
- Security (INFOSEC)
- Internet (INET)
- Systems Analysis (SYSANALYSIS)
- Systems Administration (SYSADMIN)
- Applications Software (APPSW)
- Customer Support (CUSTSPT)
- Operating Systems (OS)
You can access the definitions for each of these job specialties in the Job Family Standard for Administrative Work in the Information Technology Group, 2200. (HINT: If you lose this link, remember that you can always quickly get there through The Resume Place’s “Resources” link: Select Useful Links under the Resources menu item at the top of www.resume-place.com, and then click on “Position Classification Standards.”) You should note that the 2210 series focuses on IT Specialists; however, there are also IT support positions found under the Computer Operation Series (0332) and the Computer Clerk and Assistant Series (0335). These positions will typically have less demanding qualifications but will also not have the same career path opportunity.
How To Determine if a Job Announcement is Right For You? Identify And Review the Keywords!
Step 1 – Are you ELIGIBLE to apply?
As with any vacancy advertised on USABJOBS, you first need to make sure that you are ELIGIBLE to apply. If you are already in the Federal Service or are a Veteran, you are probably well aware of whether you have achieved “federal job status” or if you qualify to apply through special programs such as VEOA (Veteran Equal Opportunities Act), ICTAP (Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan), or other special recruiting programs. Selecting the appropriate status as you search for jobs will generally rule out jobs you are not eligible for, but be sure to read the “WHO MAY APPLY” section of the job announcement carefully to make sure you are ELIGIBLE.
Step 2 – Define the distinctive keywords for your target job.
With that step completed, you should now focus on the task of identifying the KEYWORDS in the announcement, which represent the critical job skills and experience you need in order to fully QUALIFY for the position. Here is a straightforward method to accomplish this:
- Copy all of the information in the announcement that describes the job itself into a Word document. Be sure to look at all pertinent sections of the announcement – Job Summary, Duties, Qualifications Required, Specialized Experience, as well as the Occupational Questionnaire. For this exercise, ONLY copy in the material that describes the job itself (as opposed to eligibility, travel, security clearance, educational requirements, etc).
- Now, make each sentence and/or skill a SEPARATE BULLET.
- And lastly, go through and reorganize all the bullets so that similar tasks or skills are together. Just doing this exercise will force you to think through what the key categories of skills they are looking for. Those “categories” are the KEYWORDS.
Here is a simple, abbreviated example to demonstrate this concept (This announcement actually had a lot more details especially in the Occupational Questionnaire):
TRANSFORMED, this might look like below. There is no single perfect KEYWORD analysis of this job announcement, and some of the bullets might fit under two keywords (see the bullets highlighted in blue), but this categorization process makes it much easier to figure out the KEYWORDS that you need to specifically address in your resume. (NOTE: There are a wealth of possible KEYWORDS in the IT field; however, a list of common IT KEYWORDS is provided at the end of this article.)
This article is a preview of the upcoming Federal Resume Guidebook, 6th Edition!
The new edition of our popular Federal Resume Guidebook will explain all of the steps to writing your IT federal resume. Coming this fall!
- Step 3: Cross-check your resume against your keyword list.
- Step 4: Now, reorganize each job in your resume around the KEYWORDS you identified.
- Step 5: Highlight your accomplishments for each job.
- Step 6: Develop a technical but readable first page to your resume.
About the Author
An experienced Resume Place writer, Rita Chambers has created Federal application packages for Federal and private sector employees, and specializes in Information Technology resumes. As a former Computer Center Manager and Network Operations Director, Rita brings the technical perspective of what an IT hiring manager looks for in an IT resume. Rita is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and chapter contributor for several Resume Place books, including the IT chapter in the upcoming Federal Resume Guidebook, 6th Edition.