Writing Financial Federal Resumes


by Carla Waskiewicz, CPRW, CFJST, CFCC, October 9, 2019

Job opportunities for financial professionals are abundant in the federal government. Why? Because financial professionals are essential to the operations of virtually every government agency.

A recent search of the USA Jobs website for positions in the Accounting and Budget Group (0500 Series) open to all U.S. Citizens generated almost 200 announcements from federal agencies across the U.S. Positions ranged in grade from GS-7 up to GS-15

Details of every financial position in the Accounting and Budget Group, and there are many, can be found in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) “Handbook of Occupation Groups and Families,” which is available on their website. This valuable reference source lists all positions that “advise on, administer, supervise, or perform professional, technical, or related clerical work of an accounting, budget administration, related financial management, or similar nature.”


Regardless of whether you are a private sector financial professional seeking your first federal job or a current Federal employee seeking a promotion or new financial positions – you must ensure you include the right keywords for your target series in your resume. Believe it or not there is a distinction between positions in the Accounting & Budget series. The keywords for a Budget Analyst, for example, are different from those for an accountant. The good news is that if do your due diligence and follow the four steps outlined below – you will be on the path to success.

Step 1 – Define the Distinctive Keywords for Your Target Job.

Carefully review your target announcement. What words come up most often? What specialized experience do you need for the job? Compile a list from the target announcement and the OPM handbook and make sure you cover the top keywords in your resume. Keywords can also be found in the Specialized Experience defined in the announcement, the announcement questionnaire, in the duties defined in the announcement and in the OPM Handbook. Following are four different 0500 series positions and a list of important keywords.

Accounting Keywords

  • General Ledger Accounting
  • Account Reconciliation
  • Knowledge of GAAP
  • Use of Accounting/Financial Systems
  • Perform Accounting Operational Activities
  • Perform Reporting Functions
  • Month-End Closing

Auditing Keywords

  • Plan and conduct audits
  • Knowledge of GAGAS (Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards)
  • Internal Controls
  • Risk Assessment
  • Audit Team Leader
  • Working Papers

Budgeting Keywords

  • Budget formulation, execution, and planning
  • Reviewing and analyzing budget estimates for accuracy and validity
  • Receiving budget estimate input
  • Analyzing, monitoring and tracking obligations and expenditures
  • Compiling budget data
  • Financial systems experience
  • Preparing and presented budget reports
  • Regulatory Research

Financial Management Analyst Keywords

  • Analyze data using multiple financial management systems
  • Compile financial data from reports
  • Interpret financial data
  • Interpret regulations; determine impact on financial management operations
  • Allocate funds within guidelines
  • Perform and advise on accounting, budget, and other financial management work

Step 2 – Cross-Check Your Resume Against Your Keyword List.

Next, do a thorough keyword analysis of your resume document. Can you find the keywords for your target position in the resume? If not, you need to think about how you can add language to your resume that describes how you performed that specific task.

Step 3 – Be Sure to List Your Top Accomplishments.

Accomplishments are critical and set you apart from other financial candidates with similar skills and experience. Your resume should always highlight any unique benefits you bring to the position and your top accomplishments. When detailing your accomplishments, try to think in terms of CCAR (Context, Challenge, Action, Results) – what was the challenge, how did you address it, what was the result?

Examples of accomplishments for an Accountant

  • Managed Journal Voucher Project. Determined accurate biweekly journal voucher entries in the GL; oversaw input. Resolved GL discrepancies and provided solutions.
  • Troubleshot and resolved a long-standing accounting software problem that improved recording of automated GL entries.
  • Reengineered account reconciliation to provide a more systematic and efficient process.
  • Team Lead for accounting software upgrade and primary liaison between the bank’s internal departments and the accounting software vendor during implementation the new accounting system.

Step 4 – Review OPM’s “General Schedule Qualification Standards” for additional language for your federal financial resume or to refine your choice of positions and grade levels.

If you are not sure which financial position or grade level in the 0500 series to target, be sure to review OPM’s Qualifications Standards. Reviewing the qualifications requirements for different grade levels will help you to make realistic decisions about which job to pursue. The Qualification Standards can also be a good source for keywords for your federal resume.

Step 5 – Use the Outline Format By The Resume Place to Put It All Together.

Now that you have defined your keywords and your accomplishment, it is time to re-write your resume using the outline format. This format works well in the USA Jobs resumes builder and will make it easy for the HR person to see your experience and qualifications. Below is a short example.
Additional examples can be found on the Resume Place website: click here.

Work Experience Job Block

Accountant 0510   GS 7-9
Department of Justice, Washington, DC

APPLY KNOWLEDGE OF GENERALLY ACCEPTED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES (GAAP), accounting methods, procedures and techniques to provide Accounts Receivable (AR) and medical billing support for the University of Arizona Physicians, a network of over 50 primary/specialty care centers with over 300 physicians. Perform diverse accounting and claims processing functions, including invoicing, account reconciliation, coding, cash management, collections analysis, and financial transaction research.

USE KNOWLEDGE OF ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS to analyze, validate, monitor, process and maintain accounting transactions and records related to medical claims. Review documents for accuracy and resolve discrepancies. Collect and process patient and third party charges. Process cash, credit card and check payments.

FINANCIAL SYSTEM MANAGEMENT: Code and key physicians’ charges into the EPIC medical accounting billing system. Input accounting data in the system. Determine accurate accounting code or line of accounting prior to processing transactions. Correct invalid or inaccurate transactions. Analyze accounting system integrity.

DEMONSTRATE STRONG ANALYTICAL, RESEARCH, PROBLEM SOLVING, AND FOLLOW UP SKILLS: Research transactions to resolve billing issues identified by insurance carriers, providers, and patients. Review and analyze AR accounts to identify past due accounts. Analyze medical claim denials and research applicable guidelines to reduce future occurrences. Prepare and submit detailed reports and recommendations to the Billing Supervisor.

Carla Waskiewicz is a senior Resume Place writer with over 15 years of experience. She has created Federal application packages for Federal and private sector employees with a wide variety of occupational backgrounds and career interests. She specializes in writing and designing standout resumes and cover letters for entry- to senior-level financial, administrative, and technical positions. Carla has also been a contributing writer for a number of Resume Place publications. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Federal Resume Writer and Coach (CFRWC).

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