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Quick Tips from Federal Resume Expert Kathryn Kraemer Troutman

Federal Resume GuidebookThe Hiring Reform Initiative has prompted many changes in the federal hiring process.

“President Obama’s Memorandum to Agency Heads states that essay-style questions, or KSAs, will be eliminated and individuals will be able to apply for federal employment by submitting resumes and cover letters,” explains Kathryn Kraemer Troutman, author of the recently released fifth edition of Federal Resume Guidebook. “What this really means to the federal resume writer is that the resume will now need to cover the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities, along with accomplishments in a shorter version of the federal resume.”

Troutman further explains that since she released the last edition of Federal Resume Guidebook in 2007, the average federal resume length has grown to five to seven pages. “With the larger number of applicants—100 to 1,000 for each job—Human Resources specialists are unable to read longer resumes because of time management. They are scanning for the education, experience and specialized experience they are seeking. So now we are recommending a more concise federal resume, with keywords from the announcement and more accomplishments.”

In addition to this advice, Troutman provides the following checklists in her book to help federal job seekers develop an outstanding resume that proves they possess the qualifications and experience needed to do the job.

Critical Content in Work Experience

According to Troutman, the Work Experience section is the most important section in the entire federal resume. Here are some facts she encourages you to keep in mind as you prepare to write your resume:

• Focus on relevant work experience that demonstrates your One Year Specialized Experience (or more) from the announcement.
• Include keywords from the announcement.
• Include accomplishment examples that support the KSAs in the announcement.
• Include education, certification and training that is relevant to the position.

Time Management Strategies

Troutman advises you to set aside enough time to prepare your resume:

• Thirty minutes to one hour to analyze the target job announcement for your list of keywords and to study the Duties and Specialized Experience
• One hour to find versions of resumes, accomplishments and other documents
• One hour to set up your account/profile in USAJOBS
• Four to five hours to write, edit and proofread the federal resume

Typical Length

According to Troutman, the typical length of a federal resume is

• Four to six pages in the USAJOBS format
• Five pages in Microsoft Word with one-inch margins

Methods for Writing

Here are some of Troutman’s top tips for writing your federal resume:

• Create the Outline Format with all-cap headings using keywords and KSA language.
• Cover the specialized experience from the announcement.
• Focus on the last 10 years of dates and employers.
• Summarize or write short paragraphs for positions for the prior 10 years.
• Maximum length of paragraphs should be between 5 and 10 lines.
• Do not include positions from 20 years ago unless they are very short descriptions.
• Eliminate positions that are short-term or irrelevant.
• Write well, edit well and proofread it.
• Include at least one interesting, quantified accomplishment on page one of the federal resume to grab the HR specialist’s or supervisor’s attention.

Federal Resume Guidebook, Fifth Edition is available at, in major bookstores and at

Source: JIST Publishing

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