Preparing Your Résumé for Life After the Government

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By on March 26, 2013 in Leadership with 0 Comments

The first step to take when considering leaving your position in a government job is to decide where you wish to go next. Whether you are considering retiring or moving to a job in the private sector, a solid idea of what you wish to do with your time will help you to prepare your résumé for success. Focusing on what you are leaving behind will prevent you from moving forward. Instead, concentrate on the positive aspects of the transition that you’re approaching.

If you are thinking of retiring, it is wise to consider what you would like to do with your newfound freedom. Many retirees grow bored due to lack of involvement or activity, so think about what activities you would like to fill your days. You might enjoy getting involved in community events, or joining a local team of some sort. Perhaps you dream of picking up an old hobby, becoming proficient in a foreign language, or learning to play a musical instrument. There are many benefits to retirement, and if you plan appropriately, you can enjoy them all.

Private Sector Work

If you are considering leaving your government position for a job in the private sector, however, you must prepare your résumé carefully in order to benefit from the wisdom and experience you have gained in your government job. First, you must consider what type of job you would like to find. You’ll need to decide if you want to utilize the skills you learned as an employee of the government, or if you want instead to change the direction of your career entirely. There are many opportunities for former government employees seeking alternative employment, but you must learn to present yourself in a way that highlights your specialized knowledge and abilities.

Former government employees often find success in contract work that allows them to utilize their experiences within the government, especially in Washington DC. These jobs can often be lucrative for people with the expertise of former government employees. Perhaps you’re interested in building your own company, or teaching, or working for a non-profit. All of these jobs are attainable if you market your government skills appropriately.

Résumé Preparation

As you are preparing your résumé for an interview, there are a few things to consider. Your skills that relate to the specific job should be the first thing a potential employer sees on your résumé. Starting off strong, even on paper, if highly important if you want to stand out from the crowd of applicants. You want to grab the reader’s attention in the first few lines of your résumé. In addition, your greatest strengths should be emphasized as early as possible. If you are including a cover letter, which is recommended, explain why your specific strengths (governmental and otherwise) make you the ideal candidate for the position. You should also spend time relating your skills as a government employee to the work you would be doing for this employer. Although your work for the government might have involved a very specific skill set, find creative ways to explain how it prepared you for work in the private sector.

Research for your Résumé

Another important aspect of preparing for a job interview is to do your homework on the company for which you’d like to work. Make sure that you know what they do, to whom they wish to appeal, where they have been successful, and where they hope to grow. This knowledge will allow you to better tailor your résumé before your interview. In addition, this information could help you during the interview itself, as you will seem well prepared and interested in the organization. If there is a particular area of the company that relates to your set of skills or the trajectory towards which you wish your career to go, make sure to pay extra close attention to that area in your research. Employers are always looking for people who are passionate and informed about their job.

Online Presence

Don’t forget social media as you prepare to submit your résumé. An online presence can assist you in networking with recruiters and potential employers, especially on sites like LinkedIn or on your own resume website. You also want to present a professional image, however, so make sure that your Facebook profile and your Twitter account don’t display anything that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. With the increasing prevalence of the social media in American culture, a sloppy presentation of yourself online could easily cost you a job, in both the private and public sectors.

The Future

As you make your plans, try to map out at least an outline of how you would like your career to look. As you update your résumé, try to highlight the skills that could assist you towards your goals. Your long-term goals can also assist you in making short-term job placement decisions. If a job is not helping you grow towards your ultimate career goal, it might not be the right fit. Search intentionally for jobs that will aid you in accruing skills that can help you in the long-term. Your job choice now can build your résumé in preparation for the next step towards your goals.

Although there might be some inconveniences, you can always consider returning to government work in the future. Many retirees who return to the government must work through an “annuity offset,” which means that they must work for free to make up for their retirement checks. However, there are some exceptions. Your prior experience within the government could make you a valuable asset to the government as a returning employee.

In conclusion, the most important thing to remember in preparing for life after your government job is to be creative in imagining ways to use the skills you have gained while working for the government. When seeking a job, present your strengths to your potential employers in order to make a good first impression both on your résumé and in person. Your work as an employee of the government is a powerful asset on your résumé and can open many doors for you in the workplace, if you leverage it correctly.

© 2020 Jason Kay. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Jason Kay.


About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.