Chapter Five: Packaging Your Skills
Are you feeling stagnant at your agency? Have you been reading about the predicted rise in federal retirements? Either way, there is great potential for experienced feds to fill management and other critical government positions in the coming years.
In Chapters 1 – 4 of “Pursuing a Job in a Different Government Agency” series we covered self-exploration, skills improvement, more skills, and on-line sources for a new government job. Now that you have gotten this far, you’ll want to stand out relative to the field of potential hires. Here we focus on packaging your skills.
Agencies will look at what you bring to the table. Consider pre-certification programs either for the type of job (e.g. SES), or a specific job. It can be beneficial to become pre-certified even if that does not guarantee selection. Your experiences, whether formal training, on the job, volunteer, or professional organizations, all help to distinguish you.
While it may seem obvious, it is extremely important to completely fill out the entire application including any questionnaires, letters of recommendation, writing samples, attachments, etc. Incomplete applications will be rejected.
Below is list of additional items to consider when developing your package:
- Have a plan, don’t wait for the job you want to be posted before drafting resume and seeking professional development.
- Be open to lateral details – these provide you with experience that may be useful later.
- Tailor application to specific vacancy announcement.
- A federal resume typically runs 2-5 pages.
- Highlight actual accomplishments – not just the job duties.
- Make clear how you made a difference.
- Know what others say about you. Use this in write ups.
- Be aware that HR can tell when text is cut and pasted from their vacancy announcement.
- Highlight the targeted skills/experience in your words.
- Results, results, results … Concisely tell the story of what you did that is noteworthy.
- Write a cover letter.
- Make clear what position applying for and if you spoke to anyone in the agency (e.g at a job fair).
- Don’t be modest but be truthful.
- For SES positions, only use last 10-years experience.
That completes our journey. All five modules of this series provide you with information to best position yourself for the government job you desire. Every journey starts with a first step. Have you taken yours?
*With special thanks to Dianne Campbell and Jennifer Tokar for their input in this series.
The "Coach's Corner" Articles are written by Robert Oberleitner, executive coach. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Robert Oberleitner.