From the Forum – Resume service for federal job?

Resume service for federal job?

“Has anyone ever used a professional resume writing service when applying for a federal job? I am up for a promotion (same organization, higher grade) but must competitively apply for it. I am considering using a resume service to ensure I make the cert the first time around. I’d love to hear from anyone who has ever used this type of service. It appears to be pretty pricey (over $1000 for GS-13 jobs) but I’m willing to do it if it’s worth it. Thanks so much!!!”

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25 Comment

  • I’ve only written my own resumes and have landed offers from federal agencies yet turned them down because of the salary range being too low. I currently work as a contractor making money within the GS 15 range and I get to do technical development work. I hear once you go fed, you generally don’t get to do the technical work so I’ll stay where I am for now.

    I’ve never had to enlist a resume writing service in over 15 years of IT work, and I think it would be too hard for them to really convey my skills. It’s really filling out KSAs that has been a confusing point for me, a lot of govvie jobs also already have candidates in mind and they’re not available even though they’re listed publicly due to politics.

  • This guide (originally from the Federal Bureau of Prisons) is also good:

  • andy

    I would not want to hire someone who could not write his own materials.

  • Talk to your HR person, if you are already there, you know them. Ask them for tips. Let them know you are concerned about making the cert and you want to see if they have any ideas for you to consider as you fill it in.

    A federal resume service at 1K sounds like a scam to me too. You know the human, go to them.

    • Agree with this post. I think this is step one. It also lets that person know to keep an eye out for your application.

      I am skeptical of resume services and headhunters. What vested interest do they really have in making sure you get the job you actually want and not just collecting their cut? Maybe this is the republican in me (gasp) but I think when it comes to new jobs and promotions the only person who really cares about you is you.

      I also somewhat agree with the poster below. Obviously you need to tailor each resume to the job you are applying for. I always have a separate word doc with extra resume bullets for my various past jobs and I cut and paste the most appropriate ones in as needed. Most relevant experience needs to be at the top. I also like the format of having something like “Professional Expertise:X, Y, Z” at the top with quick key words that will catch the eye. People are only going to look at the top for a few seconds before deciding to read the rest or move on.

      Also keeping in mind the resume’s only purpose is to get you an interview. Feel free to make yourself sound like a rockstar. You should make it sound like you are the cog that keeps the whole fed agency you work for moving. As long as you can defend/backup your resume in the interview you will be in great shape!

      I would skip the $1K service.

      • Agreed on tailoring your resume for each specific job and regurgitating keywords from the job announcement. (Don’t think synonyms — if your application is being scanned by a bot, it’s not going to make the connection. And not all HR reviewers are going to make the connection either.)

  • Take the job description/required skills and put all information in your resume (using similar or the same language so as to not confuse the HR idiots who will be vetting the resumes). Done.

    • As a Federal HR idiot who does qualifications on applicants I can tell you that you do not want to copy verbatim what the job announcement says. We will laugh at you and then disqualify you for lying on your resume.

      • So I bet you are an expert on every job in your agency and what would make a quality candidate? Or maybe you have the same job description that is posted in front of you and you look for the skills listed in it.

        • I’m not even sure I understand your second question.

          I am not claiming to be an expert in every job in my agency; however, I am saying that if you copy word for word what a job announcement says we will know that you are not qualified for the position. If you cannot formulate your own resume, based on your own experience and knowledge then you will be found not qualified for the position.

      • So you’re a d—? Congrats.

    • what a pleasant comment.

  • Making the cert is an automated process. The language in your resume/answers will only matter in the sense that it corresponds to the buzz words in the job announcement. Anonymous 2:40’s advice is right on target.

  • Sounds like a total waste of money. If it’s an internal promotion, then the hiring manager won’t need to look at your resume if he/she wants you for the job. All you have to do is just pass the KSAs (click the highest or close to it for all- I’ve seen people be too honest and not qualify for their own job when re-applying for billet changes) and write your resume according to the job description to match verbs/actions so that it passes the wordsearch in HR and is passed to your manager.

    There’s all kinds of free or cheap federal resume advice available online. 2-3 hours of reading that and then editing your resume yourself (or having a friend or two look at it) is much better than shelling out $1,000+.

    • I’ve been told by two federal HR people that the only way to get past the the first step is to “click the highest” for everything.

      • That may often be true but your resume must also support it.

        • At my office, we get tons of unqualified candidates on certs who just “clicked the highest” and it can be difficult to reach more qualified candidates below them. The system is broken and needs to be totally dismantled.

  • Check out She gives all the advice you might need.

  • The majority of managers have already decided who they want for the vacancy before the positions are announced. It’s not what you know, it certainly is who you know. However you do have to tailor your resume to make the certificate of eligibles. Some times the manager can’t reach the candidate that they want, so you may get in by default. I’ve been in federal HR over 20 years.

  • If your organization really wants you to have or at least be considered for the job, the HR person can give you the RPA used to advertise/fill the position on USAJOBS. You can incorporate it into your current resume and I am pretty sure that you will make the cert. You might get placed lower on the list depending on how many disabled vets with 30% or more will apply. If you’re in the technical/engineering/development field, you should not have that many vets applying for it. Being on the cert, does not guarantee an interview though……good luck!

  • I’m a 13 and I haven’t tailored my resume. That said, I’ve FOIAed a number of “successful applicant” resumes to see what they’re doing right and they often do copy the job ad verbatim. No offense to HR, but I wouldn’t count on their intelligence in getting you through the door/on the cert. I haven’t engaged in ad-copying because I try to have some integrity, but my advice would be, copy the language/terms and then write a real line demonstrating it (that’s in case, once you’re past the cert, the person who gets the resume actually has brains, which I wouldn’t count on, but you never know). That’s what I would have done if I didn’t think the process was so dumb and I cared more.

  • Depending on your field, I’ll look it over for free or a donation to a charity. If it is a highly IT or otherwise technical field, I might not be useful. But I’m a 14 supervisor who’s hired 13s. The system has changed a lot lately with the end of the KSA narratives and the addition of the questionnaires. Still, the biggest advice I give is that a resume should NOT be brief for a federal job. Because HR people and many managers were used to the KSAs, we now want them in the resume. And a cover letter, especially from an insider.

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