Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

Blog archive

Getting ready to leave the federal government?

Many senior (and younger) federal employees are now seriously thinking about leaving government to begin their next career and a new life outside of the government. There are plenty of possibilities that you could consider, but make sure you are prepared for the transition with a shorter (two-page) private industry resume targeted toward your next job.

This new resume is actually a “Career Change Resume.” You will be moving from the largest employer in the US with a massive budget to a smaller-budget, customer-focused, local company with products and services for your neighbors or local states. There are many challenges to writing your federal-to-private industry resume. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • Your areas of responsibility may be highly specialized and complex, especially if you work for the Department of Defense. Small or medium businesses will need your skills, but you will have to translate your skills to the simplest level in order for others to understand what you do. Tip: Do not use any acronyms or terms that your future employers might not know.

  • Your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are very government focused and will need to be translated toward the KSAs needed by the small or medium sized business. Tip: The work of translating could take some thinking, practice, and possibly even coaching.

  • Federal agencies have billion dollar budgets. Private sector firms generally have million dollar budgets. Tip: When you are at an interview with a small- or medium-sized company, don’t mention the billion-dollar budget.
  • Your federal agency office has many employees. A small business will have fewer employees to achieve their mission. Tip: When you are in your interview, focus on supervision, performance, and training rather than the number of employees.
  • Your federal job might support customers in your office, region, or worldwide. Your next job will likely support local customers. Tip: Customer service is customer service, right? You are customer-focused!

  • Your computer skills in the government might be specialized as a result of the giant databases and complex enterprise computer systems in government. Tip: You might need to tune up on Microsoft Office to support basic computer skills in a small to medium business.
Tips for Writing Your Two-Page Federal to Private Industry Resume
  • Decide on a type of position to target as your starter objective—any reasonable position or company. Find a job advertisement for that type of position. Just looking at job listings will help you envision yourself in new positions and new companies. This step could be a tough one though, because your government job could be very different from most private sector jobs. If you find yourself stuck here, consider hiring a career coach to get you going.

  • Take a Myers-Briggs Inventory test to review your personality traits. The information you learn can help you with knowing your soft skills, such as your communication and work styles. You can even take a mini-version of this test online.

  • Analyze the keywords, duties, qualifications, knowledge, skills, and abilities for your next job. Make a list of the most important keywords.

  • Compare your keyword list to your current federal resume, and start to translate your federal resume into the new language for private industry. Translating your federal work is tough and just as challenging as transitioning military going from military to civilian jobs. But if you want to work in private sector after you leave the government, this is a process you must attack. You must have a two-page resume that a private sector manager or human resources specialist can understand, interpret, and envision how you can help them in their small or medium-sized company.
Need More Help?

The book I recommend is Resumes for Dummies, 5th Ed. by Joyce Lain Kennedy. The book contains 50 excellent private industry sample resumes, all of which were written by the Resume Place writing staff.

If you would like more coaching and help with writing your career change resume, consider our Federal to Private Industry Career Change Services. Get help if you need it, so that you can transition to your new career in a reasonable amount of time and end up with a new job that is interesting and challenging. The private sector job market is very competitive and requires targeted resumes, just like the federal government, but in just 2 pages!

Posted by Kathryn Troutman on Nov 05, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

2020 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question