Stop Making these Top Federal Resume Mistakes in 2018

Have a Happy New Year
and Stop Making these
Top Federal Resume Mistakes in 2018

By Kathryn Troutman, President, Resume Place, Inc. and Founder
Ten Steps to a Federal Job Certified Federal Job Search®
Trainer Program

Artificial intelligence machines read federal resumes for the qualifications – NOT actual Human Resources personnel.
WRONG – resumes must be readable by REAL PEOPLE sitting in a desk looking at a computer or paper resume!


  1. Uploading “JUST ANY RESUME” not realizing that the Federal Resume has a specific format, length and content requirements. If the jobseeker looked at or used the USAJOBS builder first, they would see the required information.
  2. NOT READING the announcement carefully and not matching the Specialized Experience, KSAs or Core Competencies listed in the announcement.
  3. Not writing accomplishments or examples to prove your past performance with the KSAs required for the position.
  4. Leaving out start and end dates and leaving out hours per week for each work history for the last ten years.
  5. Making your resume either too short or too long. The best length is 5 pages!
  6. Continuing to write your Duties section in one large block of text (one large paragraph, sometimes 100 lines long). Solution: The Outline Format is the best with small paragraphs, ALL CAP KEYWORDS and a few accomplishments. See Sample Here.


  1. Waiting until last minute to apply (deadlines are very tight now, sometimes 4 days). The short announcement opening time is due to the high volume of applications that the “human” resources specialists will have to read. Cut-offs can be 50, 100, 250 or 1,000. Many announcements can result in 2,500 or 5,000 resumes! This is not possible for a human resources specialist to read.
  2. If your application is found NOT BEST QUALIFIED (and you KNOW you are best qualified), neglecting to call and find out why ineligible or “not among the best qualified”. If you made a mistake on the resume or application, find out what it is.
  3. Deflating your score on the questionnaire and getting less than 90% at the highest level. GIVE YOURSELF ALL THE CREDIT THAT YOU CAN!
  4. Going beyond ten years with too many details with the Work History. The HR specialists want to see “RECENT AND RELEVANT” experience.
  5. Saving resume with a non-specific name and uploading wrong resume for a certain position. OOPs.
  6. Not uploading all of the documents required. You will be found ineligible immediately for this.

Another big mistake is not looking at good trusted samples of federal resumes in established, renowned books to format and organize your resume. You can google federal resume samples, but many of the samples are really private sector resumes.

All books are by Kathyrn Troutman, President and founder The Resume Place, Inc., Creator of Ten Steps to a Federal Job Curriculum and Certification Program, Creator of the Outline Format Federal Resume style.

Trusted samples of federal resumes are demonstrated in all of the books and are taught in government agency training worldwide.

Kathryn is the author of 27 books on federal resume writing, including:

  • Federal Resume Guidebook, 6th Ed.
  • Writing The New SES Application
  • Jobseeker’s Guide
  • Ten Steps to a Federal Job for Military and Spouses
  • Stars are Lined Up for Military Spouses</li>
  • Student’s Federal Career Guide, 3rd Ed.
  • Creating Your First Resume

Order Now

PS, the samples in these books are up-to-date and correct for human resources specialists and hiring managers. All books are available on popular online booksellers in print and ebook formats. If a book helped you land a federal job, can you please write a review and tell your story?

Resume Place, Inc. is a GSA Schedule Holder, Certified Small, woman-owned business, Government federal resume writing trainer in more than 50 federal agencies each year.

Thank you, Kathryn Troutman, Author

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