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A 9-Step Process Simplified ​

How do I know the secret? 

Because, it’s not a secret at all. In fact, all of the information you need is included on the job announcement…the “secret” is finding it within the massive amount of information that federal agencies are required to include on the job announcements.

The on-line process for applying for a government job is complex, confusing, and cumbersome. It could be made simpler, but there are an abundance of federal rules and regulations pertaining to federal hiring, and federal agencies are required to include a lot of information that is unrelated to the job itself.

This paper will decipher the job announcement for you in simple, easy-to-follow directions, written in plain English and will show you where you need to focus to simplify the federal application process.

So let’s get started…


Click on this link www.usajobs.go​v but keep this document open (or print it first, whichever is easiest for you).


You will see boxes for “Keyword” and “Location”. Type in the job title of the job you want in the Keyword box and type in the area where you wish to work in the Location box and click on SEARCH. All jobs in that area with the words you typed into the Keyword box will be listed. There could be hundreds.


You can refine your search using the blue tabs on the left side of the page. You should refine by Salary or Pay Grade and Work Schedule. I would not suggest limiting a search to a particular Department or Agency.

NOTE: There are some jobs that are only open to Individuals with Disabilities, Veterans, Students and Recent Graduates and Senior Executives. You can click on those links on the USAJobs Home page (under the Keyword and Location boxes).

Once you find a job that looks interesting, click on the title and then follow along with my instructions below.


Towards the top of the announcement you will see “OPEN PERIOD” – that end date is the date that they will stop accepting applications. You have until 11:59pm on that date to get your application submitted in the system. But don’t wait until the last minute…it takes TIME to apply (especially if this is your first time). Give yourself 2-3 hours, to be safe.


Below that you will see “WHO MAY APPLY”. If it says “U.S. citizens”, it’s open to anyone. If it says, “agency employees” – then it’s only open to individuals who already work at that agency – don’t bother applying (unless you already work for that agency).


Peruse the job DUTIES section (on the first page of the job announcement) to be sure this is a job that interests you. IF NOT, go back to the search results and find another job and go back to STEP 1. If the job duties appeal to you and you believe you have the skill and experience to carry out those duties, keep going.


One of the MOST important parts of the job announcement is the QUALIFICATION REQUIRED section. Read through these very carefully. IF you possess ALL of these requirements, keep going. If there’s even ONE of the qualification requirements that you do NOT have, then do NOT apply. You MUST have experience or skill in every area indicated. If you don’t, your application will be tossed aside, so don’t waste your time.


Sometimes referred to as Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs), or Rating Factors, or Other Qualifications. These are also critical because these are the areas by which you will be rated. (Ratings are usually in 3 categories. Different Departments and Agencies use different terms, but generally they are: Qualified, Well Qualified and BEST Qualified). You need to get into the BEST Qualified group in order for your resume to be referred to the Hiring Manager. More about how to do that that under STEPS 6-8.

That’s it! Your focus only needs to be on those sections to start developing your resume for that job. 


Considering the fact that most agencies receive a few hundred resumes for every job, it’s critical that yours stands out. Although a few agencies use an online system to determine eligibility, most agency’s Human Resources staff review every resume to determine eligibility AND to determine your overall rating. So, the more technical jobs should be written in terms that can be understood by the layman (or woman). Remember, only those resumes rated BEST QUALIFIED will be referred to the Hiring Manager for consideration.

Include your name obviously, but also your email address and your daytime phone number on your resume. You also must include the beginning and end dates of every job (month and year).

Listen carefully now…Steps 7-9 will explain exactly HOW you need to write your resume…


You MUST address ALL of the Qualification Requirements within the body of your resume. Address them clearly, specifically, and thoroughly. There should be NO question that you possess the required experience or skill. Be honest. Be clear. But be concise. You want to make it easy for the HR staff to determine that you are qualified.

NOTE: IF YOU ARE A 30% (or more) DISABLED VETERAN – you must only meet the MINIMUM qualification requirements to get hired. More specifically, if you DO meet the minimum qualification requirements, you (or any other veteran who also meets those requirements) get the job. That’s the law. That’s your right as a veteran.


Same advice as in Step 7. You MUST also address all of the Rating Factors within the body of your resume. Address them clearly, specifically and thoroughly, but be concise. In order for your application to be referred to the Hiring Manager your resume needs to reflect your skill level and your ability to carry out these requirements.

NOTE: IF YOU ARE A VETERAN – your resume must rate high enough to be on the BEST Qualified list. However, if you can get on that list, your name will be listed FIRST, and the hiring official cannot legally hire anyone other than you (or any other veteran on the list). This is called “veterans preference”. 

Many thanks to ALL veterans for your service!


And, finally, the Questionnaire. There will be a link within the job announcement that will take you to the questions. These questions are the agency’s attempt to ensure that you possess the qualifications they need. And, your responses to these questions MUST be supported by the information in your resume.

If you indicate that you are EXPERT in any area, it needs to be proven within the body your resume. And in order to get referred to the Hiring Manager, you will need to prove expertise all areas.

Your RESUME is the ONLY way the agency has to determine your level of experience and expertise. It’s the most critical piece of the puzzle.

That’s the secret - to address the minimum qualification requirements, the rating factors, AND the questionnaire responses within the body of your resume, showing your expertise and high skill level through experience. It can’t be vague.

Remember, agencies often get hundreds of applications for every job posting. There is a massive amount of good competition out there so your resume really needs to stand out! And, the only way to increase your odds of getting hired is to apply to multiple jobs.

The most frequently asked question I get from my clients is this:

“Do I need to change my resume every time I apply for a different job?”

My answer is “Yes! Absolutely!”

So, my final piece of advice is this: Your resume will probably need to change somewhat (possibly a lot) each time you apply to a different job because it needs to be customize to whatever job for which you are applying. Even if all of the jobs you apply to have the exact same job title, the qualification requirements and/or questionnaire may be slightly different – depending on what skills and experience the agency is looking for.

I know this can be overwhelming, and it requires focused time and good writing skills. Most of my clients have said that they just can’t devote that much time to their job search. That’s why they hired a professional to do it.

I’ve had several clients who had been applying to federal jobs for many months and never got an interview. After I developed a resume for them, they were referred to the Hiring Manager and interviewed. That’s what you want. You need to get your foot in the door.

There are specific words and certain techniques to ensure your resume doesn’t get thrown out. Those types of tips are only reliable from someone who has worked in or overseen a federal Human Resources staffing division. I’ve done both. I have 32 years of experience in the federal government. I retired a few years ago as a federal HR executive. I reviewed thousands of resumes and grew the agency I worked for from 60 to about 500 employees. And what I noticed along the way was very frustrating.

I noticed that there were outstanding applicants that we were unable to hire because they just didn’t understand what was required. It appeared that they most likely possessed the experience or skill, but we could not legally “assume” they had it. It HAD to be on the resume. And it wasn’t. So, I started this company the day after I retired in order to assist applicants in applying for federal jobs. I also write resumes for private sector positions – using the exact same blueprint.

I have insider knowledge. I know what it takes for a resume to move forward. There are certain things that can immediately disqualify you that outside applicants just wouldn’t know. If you just have a few questions, I’m happy to answer them at no cost. You can contact me via email at

I work alone, no staff. I answer my own calls, and I do all the writing myself. All of my clients get personalized assistance. I can develop a resume for you that really stands out and gets noticed.

Here’s Your Safety Net:

If you send me your resume and the job announcement and I determine that you are not eligible or will not rate highly, I won’t take you on as a client. I’m not going to charge you a fee to develop your resume if you don’t have a good chance at getting on the BEST Qualified list. I won’t waste your money or my time. I will, however, help you find a federal job for which you do qualify (at no cost).

Contact me first via email at Let’s chat. Then send me the job announcement and your current resume and I will match the two as closely as possible. My goal is to get you hired and that requires making your resume a real eye-opener for anyone who is reviewing it.

The federal government is a great place to work. You get health insurance, life insurance, vacation leave, sick leave, retirement, a savings plan with government matching up to 5% and job security. Can’t beat that.

I’ve seen resume writing services that range from $99 to $3,000. Yet I have not come across any other company who specializes in writing resumes for federal jobs – written by a former HR executive. My fees are very reasonable, especially considering the expertise and insider information that I have to offer.

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