resume format for government job

Last Updated on 12/12/2019

The typical resume that you would use to apply for private-sector jobs will be not appropriate for government jobs. Hiring managers at federal agencies expect to see resumes that meet federal hiring standards. Government resume formats might vary somewhat depending on the type of job. All of them, however, will follow the guidelines of a basic federal style resume template.

Many federal jobs offer generous benefits. Competition could be stiff for the job that you want. A survey from Glassdoor determined that job openings attract an average of 250 applications. To succeed, it’s essential that you follow the federal resumes format. Otherwise, job recruiters will pass over your application. 

Submitting a resume in the right format represents the first test that you must pass to get a job interview. You need to write a thorough resume that addresses every requirement of the job posting. For this reason, federal resumes need to be much longer than regular resumes. You should aim to write a four-to-six-page resume when applying for government jobs. 

To fill the space, go into great detail about your work experience and accomplishments instead of summarizing them as you do in a one-page resume. Government jobs often require very specific skill sets and experience. Job recruiters must follow strict hiring guidelines, and your resume must communicate exactly how you could contribute to the organization. 

Have a Question on How to Craft a Federal Resume

Advice: Study the job posting carefully because it could contain a specific resume template for you to follow. Always use the template provided within a job posting if one is present.

What is a Federal Style Resume?

If the job announcement does not offer a specific resume template, then you’ll need to find the best federal resume format for the agency where you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying at the Treasury Department, search for a resume template for government finance jobs.

atsOn top of writing a multi-page resume, you should design a resume that can be read by an automated tracking system. An ATS scans for headings and keywords related to the open position and forwards matching resumes to the next step in the screening process. 

Although ATS is also common in the private sector, government agencies that must process high volumes of job applications will be using ATS.

The U.S. government fills approximately 80,000 to 90,000 positions a year, and you don’t want to get rejected by an automated scan. 

To improve your ability to pass the ATS review, take advantage of the resume’s summary section. Federal resume standards allow for the use of a summary statement below your personal information. This is where you can talk about your career goals and highlight your best qualifications for the job. 

The summary is a good place to mention specific skills or certifications relevant to the job. Because you can’t get everything important on the first page, it’s a good strategy to pepper the summary statement with words that precisely match the job. This way ATS will begin to make positive matches right away.

Pro Tip: Identify keywords within the job posting about requirements for education, experience, and work duties. Make sure that some of these words and phrases appear in the top half of the first page of your resume. Then, ATS or a person will be sure to see some of your qualities that might otherwise only appear on subsequent pages.

How to Format a Federal Resume

The federal resume outline format is a prevalent style accepted by most government agencies. It features:

  • Small paragraphs
  • Few bullet points

To make your accomplishments stand out, list them as one or two sentence paragraphs so that nothing gets overlooked.

Another federal government resume format looks more like a traditional resume. It will use:

  • Bold headings in a larger font
  • Larger blocks of narrative text to describe work history
  • More bullet lists
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Specific Resume Sections

When you look at a federal style resume example, you’ll see that it has:

  • Personal information
  • Summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Certifications and Training
  • Awards, if any
  • Volunteer Activities, if any

Personal Information

In addition to the basics about your name, address, email, and telephone number, you’ll need to include your:

  • Social Security number
  • Citizenship status
  • Veterans’ preference status, if applicable


As mentioned above, make a clear and keyword-rich statement about your career goals and qualifications. 

Work Experience

The bulk of your multi-page resume will consist of your work experience. Describe your duties and accomplishments at work in a manner that will communicate your value to the hiring agency. 

Use strong and active verbs to describe how your actions produced success on the job. Offer anecdotes that place you at the center of the action. Explain how the situations that you encountered on the job improved your abilities. 

If you’ve held previous federal positions, then state your GS job level because this will be pertinent for your next government position. The resume format for retired government employees would provide this information as well.

All job positions in this section should include:

  • Dates of employment
  • Position title
  • Supervisor or HR contact information
  • Salary (optional)
  • Employment status (full-time, part-time, or temporary)


Use reverse chronological order to list your educational history. To describe your schooling, include:

  • GPA
  • Any special honors
  • Degree or course work
  • Location

Certifications and Trainings

In this section, list special training courses, seminars, or exams that you have taken to elevate your professional skills. If you possess any type of top-secret clearance at other government jobs, mention it here. 

Awards and Volunteer Activities

If you have any awards or volunteer experience that would demonstrate your enhanced ability to perform the job, write about them in these sections. Frame your discussion of these accomplishments in a way that shows your ability to promote the mission of the government agency. 


The internet has many federal resume samples and templates to guide you. Once you find a federal government resume format sample, you’ll be able to adapt it for your job application. 

Although the government resumes format might look daunting at first, you can rise to the challenge through patience and strategy. Take your time to find open positions that match your skills and then craft a powerfully worded resume. 

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Professional resume writer Daniella HendersonDaniella Henderson

Daniella knows all ins and outs of the federal hiring process. She is excellent at job hunting strategies, starting from federal resume writing to the final stage of interview conduction.

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