Traditional resume strategy involves keeping the content brief and to the point, with minimal emphasis on the day-to-day. And this is correct for private sector resume writing. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t have the time or patience to read through and process low-value information. But federal resume writing requires an adjustment of thinking and content development. The federal resume is a different beast and to give yourself the best chance of success, you need to feed that beast with content.
The HR Specialist is trained to read through your resume and supporting documentation multiple times to score it for qualification level. But unlike their private sector counterparts, they read your entire resume. Yes, they read every single word. And it is these individuals who score your resume. They are looking for keywords and content that match the targeted position’s qualifications and duties. Of course, most of this information lies within the job descriptions themselves. As such, more is better, as long as it is relevant. So some of that good resume content that was considered “fat” that you trimmed from your private sector resume would actually be considered “lean meat” in the federal resume writing realm.
When engaged in federal resume writing, you want the HR Specialist to see within the resume’s content where you match up with the qualifications. If it is relevant, include it. The average federal posting character limitation per position is 5000, so there is plenty of room to elaborate. The federal job vacancy descriptions usually do an excellent job of spelling out the exact position requirements in detail. There are exceptions, but not many. Use this information as a springboard to analyzing your skills, experiences and training for matches and develop content accordingly. Consider the job vacancy as a “cheat sheet” in a sense. They are telling you what the HR team will be looking for in your federal resume. Tune in and give it back.
Of course, even with federal resume writing, you still want to be considerate of the reader with regard to compact sentence structure, sentence flow, document organization and resume white space. After all, they are still human beings that experience fatigue and frustration like the rest of us. As such, you should still adhere to guidelines that ease the visual burden on the resume’s reader (sentence length, paragraph length, spacing, etc.).
The goal in federal resume writing is the same as that of private sector resume writing. Appeal to your reader. Just keep in mind that your federal resume reader is a different beast. Account for it.