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June 25, 2014:
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The Five Points of a Winning Government Resume

Government resumes follow a clear format with a header of personal information, job number, objective, government experience, work experience, education, volunteer experience, awards, and references. They will occasionally ask for a summary of skills as well. Following a consistent, accepted format is important to getting a foot in the door for the first round of consideration. It is well-known that resumes that stick out too much, or don't follow the format wind up in the trash. Here are five ways to get that resume noticed by the busy interviewer.

#1 – Balance Length of Resume with Information Density
Supervisors in government expect these resumes to be long. But don't make the mistake of crowding in tons of irrelevant information under each heading. Instead, choose a few relevant points for each heading, and make clear, concise statements about each point.

#2 – Follow a Consistent Format
When a supervisor gets 30 or 40 (or more) applicants to a position, they will be scanning each resume as quickly as possible, and throwing out those that don't fit for a multitude of reasons. Make sure that the resume submitted stands out because of its relevant keywords, not because of its strange formatting or oddly colored paper.
#3 – Tailor the Government Resume to the Job Posting
Review the posting carefully to search for keywords that can be used in the resume to make it stand out among the others. Follow the requirements carefully, including all information for which the posting asks. Some postings will ask for a summary of knowledge and skills (which should be cut out of a resume if the posting does not ask for it), while others will want detailed work histories. Submit exactly to the specifications of the requirements on the posting.

#4 – Avoid Exaggeration
Making something sound good is important on a resume, but don't fib to get there. If an applicant was party to a special project in his or her work history, then that's appropriate to place on the resume, but don't state something like “headed X Project of 1995” if that is not true. Government supervisors will check all of this information and will be checking their applicants' backgrounds. Be honest. Highlight true accomplishments, not exaggerations.

#5 – Boast Skills & Knowledge without a Skills Section
If the job posting doesn't require a summary of knowledge and skills section, it is not wise to include it. However, skills and knowledge can be handled directly in the other sections, such as work experience, volunteer experience, and awards and recognition sections. Be concise and stick to what's relevant, as usual, but highlight the best skills and knowledge acquired under each heading.

Because government resumes are long, following a specific format is helpful to the supervisor reviewing the resumes, because they can quickly scan two or three pages for relevant keywords that will apply to the position. Know these keywords and use these tips to create a government resume that gets noticed.