FRS has stressed continually
the importance of careful preparation of your federal-style
resume and, in particular, the value of relating your
qualifications to the experience requirements of the job you're
after. To do this
well, you must be an expert on your background, experience and
you need to know about the job too --- but most people fall
short when it comes to tying their backgrounds to the job
The fact is that, unless you
continually study yourself as objectively as possible, you don't
really know yourself. An
intimate and yet objective knowledge of your saleable
experience and qualifications is absolutely essential to
produce a resume that leads you into finalist competition.
Whatever the general and specialized experience
requirements of the vacancy might be, your resume must reflect
experience, which demonstrates that you meet these
order for your resume to successfully perform this important
job, your experience descriptions must be on-target, accurate
and complete. You
need all the information about yourself that you can draw
people begin to write or update their resume experience
descriptions, they sit down with a blank resume template and
try to remember all of their work experience and eloquently
record it in one horrendous sitting.
Too often the final product is an incomplete or poor
work experience statement and a renewed understanding of why
resume writing is a victim of procrastination.
The job is
much less formidable if it's treated as formally as any
important research and writing project.
It's certainly more vital, yet it's often given less
attention. As with
any research project, a good source of information is
essential. If you've
been following our articles, you know where to get the
necessary information on federal occupations and job
where do you get information about yourself?
analyze yourself as an information source, you have to
conclude that you are limited to (a) what is in your member,
and (b) what you've written down and recorded about yourself.
The subject (your career) is too important to leave to
memory, and that leads us to the thrust of this article: Give
yourself the tools to create a first-class resume.
Build a "Career Reference File" on yourself, which will
become your personal reference library and to which you can
easily refer when composing, checking, updating or
custom-tailoring the work experience blocks of your resume.
You will find
your "Career Reference File" to be surprisingly easy to set up
and indispensable. To
start with, gather everything relating to your career,
background, work experiences, and qualifications.
This includes old and current resumes, SF-171s,
OF-612s, school records, references, evaluations, appraisals,
letters of commendation, awards, military and security
clearance records, and training certificates.
And, one other item, so important that we'll consider
it separately: a diary, log or running record is your work
If you don't
have a career diary, set one up now.
Think back as far as you can and jot down the important
aspects of your career. Don't
be surprised if you remember some essential items a few days
later. When you
realize you forgot an important point, go to the diary and
insert the information --- preferably where it would fall
diary is set up, periodically record the things you have done
so that the information will be available the next time you
update your resume. You
should include new duties, new responsibilities you were given
or assumed, your recent accomplishments, awards,
commendations, and information on your supervisory
office calendar can even be used as a tool to make sure you
don't miss any significant events.
Keep the record up-to-date --- the subject is just too
important to be left to memory.
File all your
documents (resumes, awards, training certifications, etc.) in
reverse chronological order --- based on the date of
preparation --- and place them in a folder.
Ideally, your latest resume would be the most recent
career-significant item in your file.
If not, your resume probably needs to be updated.
Your work experience record or diary might be in the
form of a spiral-ring notebook for everyday convenience or you
can set it up as a word-processing file on your home computer.
There it is ---
your personal "Career Reference File."
Sound like work? It
is. Are you and
your career worth it? You have to decide that, but we feel
sure of one thing: once you've put your "Career Reference File"
together, your job of writing or updating your resume will be
Sandra M. Harris
Federal Research Service