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Marines listen and take notes during the Transition Readiness Seminars’ “10 Steps to a Federal Resume” workshop July 16, 2013, at the Religious Annex aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. The goal was to help military members, civilians and military spouses improve their resume and navigate the federal hiring process.

Photo by Ameesha Felton

Transition Readiness Seminar simplifies the federal hiring process

26 Jul 2013 | Ameesha Felton Marine Corps Base Quantico

The lengthy and often complex federal employment process can be cumbersome for many job seekers. To help separating Marines and sailors navigate it, the Transition Readiness Seminar held “10 Steps to a Federal Resume” on July 16, 2013, at the Religious Annex aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The goal was to help military members like, Chief Warrant Officer Zachery DeLellis, one of 30 workshop attendees, increase their chances of landing a federal job.

DeLellis, internal control officer at the National Capital Region Finance Office on base, will mark 20 years of service next month. In preparation for his transition out of the military, within the next year or two, he’s been scouring the USA Jobs website, but to no avail.

“I’ve been on [] several times and figuring out what [federal agencies] are looking for and how to complete the application can be really challenging,” DeLellis said.

Federal agencies have different missions and goals, which is why Richard Moore, personal and professional development program instructor, at TRS said using a “one size fits all” resume is ineffective.  Instead, resumes should be tailored, using information from a specific job posting.

“Analyze the job vacancy announcement and take keywords from the job description to use in your resume,” Moore said.

 As a result, the digital scanners that comb through thousands of online applications will likely select for review resumes with relevant keywords. Applicants were also told to write their resume in paragraph form and avoid bullets, because most scanners do not recognize them.

Typically, the federal employment process includes a knowledge, skills and abilities questionnaire, which is used to measure an applicant’s expertise in various areas. Moore said it’s important for applicants to make sure their resume is consistent with answers on the questionnaire.

“If you check a certain level of expertise on the questionnaire but don’t demonstrate it in your resume, you’ll lose every time,” Moore said. “[Federal employers] have the right to say you lack knowledge and experience because you didn’t demonstrate it on your resume.”

Job seekers should also know how to effectively convey their accomplishments.

“Accomplishments are important because they help you get a job and separate you from the competition,” Moore said. “However, you have to demonstrate those accomplishments and explain what lead to it.”

Basically, think outcomes, he said. Each achievement that is included under a past job, should describe actions and then results.

“Eliminate ‘we’ statements and focus on personal accomplishments, which will show how well you work independently,” Moore added.

The workshop also went over veterans’ preference, a government initiative that gives former military members an edge over civilian job seekers. 

By law, disabled veterans or those who have served during a specific time can claim veterans’ preference on their application, which allows employers to hire them under accepted appointments to positions, up to GS-11 or equivalent, without considering any of the competition.  

Even though the federal government offers entitlements to many separating military members, these incentives don’t guarantee employment.

“[The federal hiring process] is a game and you have to know how to play it,” Moore said. “Remember, rank doesn’t matter [when you’re applying for federal employment], you have to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities.”

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Marine Corps Base Quantico