Tips on Understanding Federal Vacancy Announcements and Applying for Federal Jobs

by Elda Schwartz

Tips on Understanding Federal Vacancy Announcements and Applying for Federal Jobs

(This is the second article in a two - part series. Part one, New Developments in Federal Employment , appeared in the March 2005 Career Convergence)

Reading a Federal Vacancy Announcement

Although there is variation in how the information is presented, all federal vacancy announcements contain categories similar to the following:

Other items listed in the announcement may include specific details under the following headings:
For Further information (a contact person and number is included)
Requires background investigation
Frequent Travel may be required
New appointment probationary period
Relocation expenses

Creating a Federal Resume
A Federal Resume requires specific information that is not generally included on a private sector resume. Therefore, federal resumes are frequently 2-5 pages longer than a private sector resume. In addition to your name, address and phone number, you should include the information requested on the OF 510 as a check list to ensure that your application package is complete. The OF 510 is the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) official brochure "Applying for a Federal Job"

Using a resume format instead of the OF-612 gives you the opportunity to showcase your competencies in a "Skills Summary" at the top of the resume. Use the Skills Summary to highlight your most outstanding qualifications for this specific position. A well written Skills Summary will encourage the reviewer to thoroughly read the rest of your application package.

The next section will be either "Education" or "Work Experience" depending on which category you believe is stronger. Recent graduates often put their education first. Work experience is usually presented with the most recent experience listed first. Just like with a private sector resume, be sure to describe your work in terms of accomplishments using key words from the vacancy announcement. Salary level and contact information for a supervisor is required for each work location. .
Examples of federal resumes can be found on the OPM website www.usajobs.gov in tutorial format and on the following websites:

Writing Knowledge Skills and Ability (KSAs) Statements

Each KSA (sometimes called a Quality Ranking Factor, Qualification Required or Selective Placement Factor) listed on the vacancy announcement must be addressed on a separate sheet of paper in your application packet. Your name and the announcement number should appear at the top of each page. Unless otherwise specified in the vacancy announcement, each statement should be - to a full page. The statement can be written in the first person singular (I statements) and should give a clear picture of the extent of your knowledge, skills and ability. You can include relevant work experience, volunteer experience and education. Using the following CCAR model may help you organize your thoughts:










Additional Resources

Elda Schwartz NCC, MCC, LCPC is a certified as a Federal Resume Writer. She currently works as an independent contractor at the FDIC in Washington DC. She previously worked as a long distance career coach with TSA. Elda trains Career Development Facilitators and is on the Counseling staff at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex. She may be reached at

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