How To Use the Federal Resume Format [Template + Examples]

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June 21, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • If you’re applying for a job with the federal government, you need to use the federal resume format.
  • A federal resume is similar to a traditional resume, but is longer and offers more detail about your experience and work history.
  • Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help you write a polished, metric-driven federal resume that impresses potential employers.

If you’re applying for a government job, you’ll need a federal resume.

The good news is that federal resumes have a lot of overlap with traditional resumes. However, they dig even deeper into your skills and experience, qualifications, work experience. They also include information only applicable for federal jobs.

That information carries a lot of weight. For many federal jobs, there are specific legal reasons why an employer can only consider candidates who meet all of the stated requirements. And if that weren’t enough pressure, it can also impact your pay scale. So needless to say, it’s crucial to present your qualifications effectively. 

This guide digs into how to create a resume that stands out for that federal position, including:

  • Breaking down the federal resume format
  • Key components of a federal resume
  • 5 tips for writing a federal resume
  • How to write a federal resume

Struggling to land interviews with your resume? Get started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder for free.

Understanding the federal resume format

Before you get into the details of your education, skills, and accomplishments, it helps to get a general understanding of what federal resumes are, when you need to use them, and what makes them different from other resume formats.

What is a federal resume?

A federal resume is a specific type of resume used to apply for a federal position—whether the role is with the government or another federal agency.

While a typical resume is a marketing tool aimed at helping you impress a recruiter and land an interview, a federal resume is more than a highlight reel or employment summary. It’s a crucial part of the vetting and evaluation process for federal jobs. 

Federal positions often have more strict and rigid requirements than private sector jobs. The hiring manager will use your resume along with the supporting documents submited to determine whether you have the experience required to fill the open position. This could include transcripts, performance evaluations, self-assessments, military service paperwork, and more.

Who needs a federal resume?

You need a federal resume when applying for a job with the federal government, whether it’s with an intelligence agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or another government department.

The easiest way to tell if you need a federal resume is to look where the job announcement is posted. If it’s posted on any of the following sites, you need to apply with a federal resume:

  • Any government agency website

What makes a federal resume different?

You’ll recognize a lot of the aspects of a federal resume. What separates it from a more typical resume is the depth. 

A federal resume will provide more context and information about your skills and experience, particularly within each position description. For that reason, it’s often longer than a typical resume that fits on one or two pages.

Federal resumes vs private sector resumes

Here’s a quick look at the key differences between a federal resume and a civilian or private sector resume:

comparison of federal resume vs private sector resume
While federal and private sector resumes share many traits, the federal resume is more detailed and formal.

Both approaches default to the reverse-chronological resume format, where your previous positions are listed with the most recent at the top. However, there’s flexibility to adjust to a functional resume or a combination resume format in terms of ordering sections, if that feels like the better fit.

Not sure whether to use a functional or chronological format? This post on functional vs. chronological resumes can help you make your decision. To understand when to use which resume format, check out this guide on the best resume format to have.

What are the key components of a federal resume?

Your federal resume will have all of the standard resume sections you’re accustomed too, albeit with more information and detail included. If you’re completely new to resume writing, review this beginner’s guide on how to make a resume to get the lay of the land first.

A federal resume includes the following sections:

  • Resume header
  • Professional summary
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Education

You can also add additional sections for other relevant information, such as military experience, volunteer work, or other qualifications pertinent to the role. Here’s a closer look at each of the above sections and how to make the most of them. 


Your header goes directly at the top of your resume and includes basic information such as your:

  • Full name
  • Contact information (email address and phone number)
  • Location or preferred location (if willing to relocate)
  • LinkedIn profile

You’ll need all of that on your federal resume. However, depending on the specific federal job, you might also need to include other details such as:

  • Availability: The job type you’re looking for (permanent, temporary, etc.) as well as your desired work schedule (full-time, part-time, shift work, etc.)
  • Citizenship: Your country of citizenship (this is especially important if outside the US)
  • General Schedule (GS) grade: Level used by the federal government to rank your qualifications and compensation for the position, so always include it if you have one
  • Job description: Most federal jobs require you to include the job announcement number, title, series, grade, and any other important information related to the job.
  • Security clearance: Required for some government jobs that work with sensitive information, so include this information if applicable
  • Veteran status: Indicates whether or not you’re a military veteran

Federal resume header example

Jane M. Doe | 123-456-7890 | | Washington, D.C.

Position: Cybersecurity Analyst, Department of Homeland Security

Announcement: DHS-CYBER-2024-0017, GS 2210-13

Availability: Permanent, full-time work

Citizenship: United States

GS Grade: GS-13

Veteran Status: 5-point preference

Professional summary

Your professional summary (often called your resume summary) goes directly below your header and is a concise overview of your relevant experience, knowledge, skills, and special accomplishments.

Your summary should call attention to the qualifications that present you as the best applicant for the job. On a federal resume, that usually takes shape as an introductory paragraph of two to four sentences followed by a bulleted list of your related abilities and achievements. 

Remember that hiring managers use federal resumes as vetting tools, so your summary is less about highlighting what you’re most proud of and more about highlighting what's most relevant. 

Struggling to come up with your own? Teal’s Resume Summary Generator pulls keywords, technical skills, soft skills, and other important language from the job description and combines it with details from your work history and experience to create a tailored resume summary statement.

Federal resume summary example

Highly skilled and results-driven Cybersecurity Analyst with over 10 years of experience in the field of information security. Adept at protecting sensitive data and systems by identifying and mitigating cyber threats through advanced security measures. Proven track record of enhancing cybersecurity posture and effectively managing incident response efforts. Strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams.

  • Incident Response Lead: Spearheaded the incident response team that successfully mitigated a major cyber attack on a federal agency, resulting in zero data loss and saving the agency an estimated $2 million in potential damages.
  • Security Assessment Expertise: Conducted over 50 comprehensive security assessments for various government agencies, identifying critical vulnerabilities and providing actionable recommendations that led to a 40% improvement in overall security metrics.
  • Cybersecurity Training Program: Developed and implemented a cybersecurity awareness training program for over 1,000 employees, which resulted in a 60% reduction in phishing attack success rates and significantly enhanced the organization's security culture.

Work experience

Your work history takes up a large portion of your resume. You’ll list your different positions in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent or current position at the top. You’ll include the basic details that go on any resume, like your job title, employer name, employer location, and the dates you worked in that position.

However, your federal resume will include additional information that’s only relevant to federal positions:

  • Hours worked per week
  • Grade or rank level
  • Salary or compensation
  • Supervisor name, contact information, and whether they can be contacted

You may not need all of that—it depends on the specifics of the job and your experience. Underneath those basics, you’ll go into detail about your job duties. While you need to explain what you did, you also need to highlight why that work mattered by quantifying your bullet points and accomplishments. 

Remember to keep relevance in mind as well. Take another look at the job description to make note of the responsibilities so you can describe your own experiences in a way that connects directly to those duties. 

Federal resume work experience example

Cybersecurity Analyst | January 2020 - June 2023

Department of Homeland Security | Washington, D.C.

Hours/Week: 40 | Grade Level: GS-13 | Salary: $98,000 per year
Supervisor: John Smith | | 555-987-6543 | May contact

  • Led the incident response team in handling over 200 cybersecurity incidents annually, reducing average resolution time by 30% through efficient processes and strategic planning.
  • Implemented advanced security measures, including multi-factor authentication and encryption protocols, resulting in a 50% decrease in unauthorized access incidents.
  • Conducted vulnerability assessments and penetration tests on critical systems, identifying and remediating over 300 high-risk vulnerabilities, thereby enhancing system security by 45%.
  • Collaborated with other federal agencies and private sector partners to share intelligence and best practices, improving threat detection and response capabilities across the board by 25%.
  • Developed and delivered cybersecurity training programs for 1,500+ employees, leading to a 60% reduction in phishing attack success rates and improved overall cybersecurity awareness.
  • Ensured compliance with federal cybersecurity regulations and standards, including Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines, achieving a 100% compliance rate during annual audits.
  • Led a team in the successful migration of sensitive data to a secure cloud environment, enhancing data protection and reducing the risk of data breaches by 35%.

Writing your own metric-driven achievements can be tough, but Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help. Click to add an achievement to your resume and then select the “Write with AI” button. Teal will automatically generate three bullet point options for you to edit and add to your own resume.

Teal's AI achievement generator
Teal's AI Achievement generator makes it easy to present your accomplishments in a compelling way

Your skills section is where you’ll provide a list of your most relevant and impressive skills to your federal resume. While your abilities should shine through in your summary and work history, this section is an easy spot to tailor to the job description and swap in skills that show you have the knowledge and experience required for that position. 

Aim to include a mix of technical skills (like expertise with specific programs) as well as soft skills (like teamwork and leadership activities) to give the hiring manager a well-rounded understanding of what you bring to that position.

Federal resume skills example

  • Cybersecurity Incident Response
  • Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing
  • Advanced Threat Detection & Mitigation
  • Risk Management Framework (RMF)
  • Compliance with Federal Regulations (FISMA, NIST)
  • Cybersecurity Training & Awareness Programs
  • Analysis & Problem-Solving 
  • Communication & Presentation
  • Team Leadership & Collaboration
  • Strategic Planning & Project Management

Federal resume education

Your education section is similar to what you’d include on a traditional, private sector resume. You’ll list your degrees, the school you attended, and the date you obtained them. You should also include relevant certifications, designations, or specialized training in this section, especially if they’re mentioned in the job description.

If you want to go beyond the basics, you can add your GPA, relevant coursework, special honors, or important presentations, projects, and papers to this section. However, those aren’t required.

Federal resume education example

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Graduated: May 2012

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Graduated: May 2010


  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The above are the must-have sections to include on your federal resume. However, it’s not a rigid mold. You can add sections and information for your professional organizations, volunteer experiences, special projects, relevant awards and achievements, and any other qualifications that relate to the position.

Federal resume format template

[Name] | 123-456-7890 | | [City, State]

Position: [Current title]

Announcement: [job announcement number]

Availability: [Full-time, part-time, etc)

Citizenship: [Country]

GS Grade: [General schedule grade]

Veteran Status: [If a veteran, give your status]

Professional Summary

[Summary paragraph]

  • [Bullet point achievement 1]
  • [Bullet point achievement 2]
  • [Bullet point achievement 3]

Work experience

[Past role 1]

[Past role 2]

[Past role 3]


  • Skill 1
  • Skill 2
  • Skill 3



[City, State]

[Graduation date]


  • Certification 1
  • Certification 2
  • Certification 3

5 must-know tips for writing a federal resume

Like any other resume, crafting a resume that’s suitable for federal job openings takes some time and finesse. Here are a few federal resume tips to keep in mind when you’re writing and reviewing your document.

1. Read the directions carefully

Federal job openings often include a lot of information about both the job and the application process. Review those closely so your resume and application materials check every box.

2. Lean on existing resources

Federal resumes can seem intimidating, but the government and other organizations offer plenty of resources to guide you. For example, check out:

  • Federal resume templates from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Federal resume tips from the U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Federal resume template from the FBI

When you’re ready to pull all of your information together, Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help you craft a polished and impressive document without the stress and formatting headaches.

3. Spell out acronyms

Government employment comes with plenty of acronyms and jargon. Spell them out so the recruiter doesn’t have to guess.

4. Remember relevance

Employers don’t just want to know your previous responsibilities and accomplishments—they want to know how they’ve made you uniquely prepared to address the duties of that specific job.

So, don’t get so wrapped up in the logistics of writing a federal resume that you forget the importance of relevance. Use the job description as your guide as you look back at your career and decide what information to include.

5. Use a federal format

Consider this your golden rule: If you’re applying for a federal job, you need to use a federal resume format. Don’t create a traditional resume and expect the hiring manager to process and translate that information into the format they need. They won’t take the time to do so.

How to write your best federal resume with Teal

Ready to prepare your resume? Here’s how to make it easy with Teal’s AI Resume Builder

1. Import your LinkedIn profile or an existing resume, or start from scratch.

2. Attach a job description to your resume so Teal’s Matching Mode can identify keywords and skills to include.

Attach a job description to a resume in teal to tailor your resume
Attach a job description to a resume in Teal to start tailoring your resume

3. Use the checkboxes in each resume section to decide which information to include and which to remove.

Add or remove information on a Teal resume
Simply deselect job history details in Teal to remove them from certain resumes, such as resumes set aside for federal jobs

4. Use AI to add metric-driven achievements to your roles.

Add resume achievements with AI
Select "Write with AI" in Teal to start generating work achievements based on your background

5. Review Teal’s Analysis to see your resume score and expert suggestions to make your resume even stronger.

Analysis Score in Teal
Use the Analysis Score in Teal to rate your resume against best practices before submitting

6. Visit the Design tab to easily reorder or rename your sections to fit the typical federal resume format

Rename and reorder resume sections using Teal's drag and drop formatting tool
Rename and reorder resume sections using Teal's drag and drop formatting tool

7. On the Design tab, you can also customize your resume format, alignment, font, layout, styling, and more

Teal resume formatting
Start with a Teal template and then adjust styling as you go with advanced options in Teal+

When you’re completely satisfied with your document, export it as a PDF and submit it with your cover letter (Teal’s Cover Letter Generator can help with that part too) and other supporting documents.

Applying for a federal job can feel nerve-racking, but Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help you nail the right level of detail—without all of the nail biting.

Ready to write your best federal resume? Get started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the federal resume template format?

A federal resume template includes a detailed header with your contact information, citizenship, and job details, a professional summary, work experience with specific details like hours worked per week and supervisor contact information, skills, and education. It may also include additional sections for military experience, volunteer work, and relevant certifications. Each section is more detailed than a typical resume to meet federal job requirements.

What is the best format for a federal resume?

The best format for a federal resume is a detailed, reverse-chronological structure that includes a comprehensive header, professional summary, work experience, skills, and education sections. This format ensures all necessary information is presented clearly and comprehensively. It helps meet the specific requirements of federal job applications.

How far back should you go on a federal resume?

A federal resume should typically go back at least 10 years in your work history. Include relevant experience beyond 10 years if it directly applies to the job you're seeking. The aim is to provide a complete and detailed account of your work history, emphasizing relevant qualifications as some government employers can only consider candidates that meet 100 percent of the stated requirements.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a freelance writer focused on the world of work. When she's not at her computer, you'll find her with her family—which includes two adorable sons and two rebellious rescue mutts.

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