Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Resume Do I Submit For a Federal Job? by Barbara LaBier

The appropriate “Resume” to submit for a Federal job has become confusing. Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to focus on corporate resumes and eliminate KSA’s--- the majority of agencies still do their own thing. The best advice is to read each job description and instructions carefully before applying for a federal job because each agency has different standards.

The Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities questions are known in govspeak as KSAs. Answers to these questions show that you are qualified for advertised jobs. During the 1980’s, KSAs were originally used as a replacement for the old civil service exams. A few agencies have stopped using them, including the Army and the U.S. Customs Service. Others, however, are still requiring them.

According to The Office of Personnel Management KSAs will soon be a thing of the past. The Obama administration has asked agencies to stop requiring the time-consuming essays and instead accept a corporate resume. The government form when compared with a corporate resume contains details such as an employer’s name, phone number, address, time at the job, salary, and references for each job. The corporate resume on the other hand is about two pages. The text is written in phrases and may contain a career summary and never reveals salary for each position.

Elimination of KSAs is part of a comprehensive initiative by the Obama administration to overhaul the federal government’s hiring process. Right now, the USAJOBS form filled out on-line is acceptable by all agencies. Go to the USAJOBS site to research and apply for jobs. This format used to be called the “Remix” resume and was updated six months ago.  Some agencies will still accept a 171. Depending on the agency you are applying to, once this form is completed on line, you may be transferred to another registry where there is yet another form to fill out during the application process. Paying attention to the closing date and time is also very important. You don’t want to be shuffled from different registries as the window of time disappears as you try to make the application deadline.

For the moment, KSAs (and their equivalent for senior executive positions, the ECQs) are still a reality for the vast majority of federal jobs and they are taken seriously by HR officials. Make sure your answers be error free by using spell check and the help of a friend to proofread for you.

Rely on your resume for information. Your challenge is to insert everything that would be in your normal private-sector resume somewhere in concise and coherent answers to the questions.

As far as KSA’s are concerned you must fill out every question to your fullest ability. Some questions may require research to complete because you may have forgotten the material they refer to. If you don’t have the complete response nailed you may get partial credit. You want to emphasize experiences and examples that support your answer to the question. If you have to repeat information in another KSA rewrite it focusing on other points. Also important is to emphasize recent achievement, degrees, certifications and training.

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