Federal Jobs Will Be Plentiful But Competitive for Promotions

If you are a current federal employee trying to get promoted, or on the outside of Uncle Sam’s civilian army and trying to land your first federal job, you need to make your resume stand out. Here are tips on how to do that.


Kathryn Troutman


The competition is speeding up! Current federal employees will have to compete for promotions with excitement of the new government and the lack of jobs in private industry. And with veterans returning from the Middle East, competition is everywhere for a promotion are seeking!

Tips for 2009 for Current Feds who want to get promoted

Get your federal resume updated and jazzed up to meet and beat the competition. No more bureaucratic descriptions which don’t describe what you "really do". It’s time to write about your contributions to your mission, your ideas, projects and big problems you solved last year in 2009 language and keywords for your industry.

Old habits of rushed updating and submitting for positions at the last minute should end. It’s time to change your past practices of rushing to update your resume, last minute check off the boxes in a questionnaire, and struggling with KSAs, which may not reflect your best drafts or ideas.

Writing strategies for your federal resume to Stand Out

What are your 2009 federal keywords? Find a target announcement and analyze the duties and qualifications for 10 keywords. Make a list of the 10 keywords and review them against your current resume. Are they in the resume? If not, add them to your resume now.

What are the 2009 private industry keywords that could help you stand out? Research the outside world for new ideas and new language for your resume. Go to indeed.com or your favorite online job board and search for a similar job to yours in the private sector. If you are a Program Analyst in government, see if you can find an equivalent and check out the keywords and competencies they are writing about. Look for Duties, Basic Qualifications, Other Qualifications – any new way of describing your job! New ideas!

What have you done lately? Think about the most important contribution you made to your organization last year. Write it down. Is it impressive? Ask a friend who does not work in the government to read it. See if they think it is impressive and valuable. If not, rewrite it and ask them to read it again.

KSA and Essay Story Telling

Get ready to tell your job-related stories. I recommend that you take an improv class to practice your KSA story-telling. (KSA is a term used to refer to knowledge, skills and ability.) "Then there was that time when my customer (a $30 million per year customer), asked me to purchase new equipment valued at $10 million with only 20 days in the budget year. This was a product for multiple offices worldwide. I had to find the product, research vendors, discover new possibilities for this product, stay late for 3 nights, solicit bids, and negotiate an agreement in record-time and with great SUCCESS. My customer got their products on-time and the best quality they could have asked for. I received recognition for outstanding service and demonstrated my excellent customer services. This customer is growing in their mission and my acquisition services are consistently there to help them meet new initiatives."

Readability. No More Big Block of Text

Federal resumes have become a "big block" or words in the USAJOBS and other online builders. With Internet and online reading smaller paragraphs and chunks of content are more readable and friendly for busy HS Specialists and Supervisors. Use ALL CAPS as headings for builders. The Federal Resume Guidebook calls this the Outline Format using ALL CAPS as Headlines with top critical skills.

Holiday Homework – Keep your resume and KSA Stories up-to-date every week or month. With this competition and the increase of jobs posted on USAJOBS in the next 3 to 6 months, it is imperative that you update your federal resume and KSAs right away – during the holidays!

Kathryn Troutman is the author of the Federal Resume Guidebook, 4th Edition, 2008 copyright. She is President of The Resume Place, providing federal career and federal resume writing services for federal career advancement and first-time applicants into government.