How to Prepare a Federal Resume For a GS-14 Position

Several years ago, we helped Jim Morris succeed in being hired as a GS-12/13 Program Analyst (0343 series) in the Federal Government.  Jim has now been in that same GS-13 position for the past 7 years and he is more than ready to get promoted to a new job. He knows his position so well, that it is boring and he can’t  envision being in this position for the next 7 years until he anticipates retiring. Two years ago, with several years of relevant GS-13 experience under his belt, Jim started applying for GS-14 Program Analyst positions but didn’t get very far.   He came to us for help with his campaign.


Although he met the “minimum qualifications” for the GS-14 Program Analyst positions (more than 52 work at the GS-0343-13 level) and he was getting Best Qualified ALL THE TIME,  Jim’s application was rarely being referred to selecting officials and he was not getting interviews or job offers.


After several years of frustration, he asked The Resume Place for guidance.


Our advice: 

A successful Federal Resume for a GS-14 position is all about leadership!  Jim’s resume was falling far short of meeting that goal.



  • The differences among grade levels is actually stated in law and codified in the U.S. Code (5 USC §5104). As grade levels increase so does the level of qualification and responsibility, and the degree of difficulty of your work. 
  • The skills associated with GS-14 positions are much more “executive” than those at the GS-13 level.
  • The GS-14 pay grade is generally reserved for top-level positions such as supervisors, high-level technical specialists, and top professionals holding advanced degrees.
  • GS-14 positions typically involve a unique combination of technical and leadership abilities. The GS-14 often heads an organization; plans, directs or executes major specialized programs; demonstrates a high level of attainment in specialized activities; and performs sophisticated work.



  • Focus on your leadership skills and describe your duties and responsibilities in “executive language.”
  • Think in terms of the leadership competencies that Senior Executive Service (SES) candidates are expected to have:
    • Leading Change
    • Leading People
    • Driving Results
    • Business Acumen
    • Building Coalitions
  • Present your skills in the context of the Agency’s mission, vision and strategic goals.
  • Focus on your recent and relevant accomplishments — those that show your expertise in leading or managing projects or programs, and your specialized knowledge and technical competence. Think of examples of when you have:
    • Overseen a project or program that achieved its desired results.
    • Successfully lead a team.
    • Monitored expenditures, set priorities, or did a cost-benefit analysis.
    • Recommended and implemented a new approach.
    • Made effective use of new technology.
    • Demonstrated your ability to solve problems and think strategically.
    • Mentored or inspired others.
    • Excelled in customer service.
    • Took on additional responsibilities
    • Identified a cost-effective approach.
    • Built partnerships or coalitions with others inside or outside your organization
    • Worked with other federal agencies, state or local governments, or nonprofit organizations.
    • Influenced or negotiated an important outcome.
    • Demonstrated high-level technical skills in areas such as financial management or technology.

The above list is just illustrative, but you should get the message:  focus on your leadership accomplishments!  Once you’ve identified your best examples, we’ll help you present them in the best way.  You will clearly show the results of your efforts and how you successfully accomplished goals  (e.g., qualify or quantify results; what difference did it make; did you receive acknowledgement for your success such as an award or commendation).


The Resume Place guided Jim through this entire process.  We assisted him in targeting the right vacancy announcements.  Our expert writers and career consultants helped him create a leadership-oriented Federal Resume utilizing our customized “outline format” and highlighting his best accomplishments.  He now has an Executive style Federal Resume that maximizes his chances of moving into a higher-level position.

Want professional writing help and samples of the best possible GS 12 to 14 federal resumes?

Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th edition,  has set the standards of federal resume writing since the first edition in 1996! Kathryn Troutman is on the cutting edge of the federal resume format for USAJOBS builder and upload formats. Federal HR specialists like the readability of the OUTLINE FORMAT with keywords and accomplishments. There are samples in this book that can help you get Best Qualified, Referred and invited to an Interview!  This book should be mandatory for anyone seeking promotion and advancement in government:

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Writing the New SES Application, 3rd edition. This book contains two samples of executive federal resumes, the 5 page SES resume and the leadership competencies that should be considered for writing the GS 13/4/5 federal resume. The ECQs should be reviewed and accomplishments written to demonstrate leadership, supervision, program management and project management. This book should be mandatory for anyone seeking GS 14 and up federal resumes.

Ellen Lazarus is a Resume Place Certified Federal Job Search Trainer, Federal Resume Writer and Career Coach.  She is a former Legislative Branch senior executive.

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