Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

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How to write an accounting, budget, or auditing federal resume

Job opportunities for financial professionals are abundant in the federal government. Why? Because financial professionals are essential to the operations of virtually every government agency. A recent search of the USA Jobs website for an Accounting (0510) position, one of many positions in the 0500 series, generated 298 results in federal agencies across the U.S., from GS-7 up to GS-14. A search for Budget Analyst (0560) generated an additional 137 results.

Details of each and every financial position in the Accounting and Budget Group (0500) can be found in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) “Handbook of Occupation Groups and Families.” This valuable reference source lists all positions that “advise on, administer, supervise, or perform professional, technical, or related clerical work of an accounting, budget administration, related financial management, or similar nature.”

Which Federal Position is Best for Me? Keywords are the Key!

Regardless of whether you are a private sector financial professional seeking your first federal job or a current Federal employee seeking a promotion, you must ensure you include the right keywords for your target series in your resume. Believe it or not there is a distinction between positions in the Accounting & Budget series. The keywords for a Budget Analyst, for example, are different from those for an accountant. The good news is that if you do your due diligence research and follow the four steps outlined below – you will be on the path to success.

Step 1 – Define the Distinctive Keywords for Your Target Job

Carefully review your target announcement. What words come up most often? What specialized experience do you need for the job? Analyze your target announcement and compile a list. Keywords can also be found in the Specialized Experience defined in the announcement, in the announcement questionnaire, in the duties defined in the announcement, and the OPM Handbook. Following are three difference accounting series positions and a sample list of important keywords.

Accounting Keywords

  • General Ledger Accounting
  • Account Reconciliation
  • Knowledge of GAAP
  • Use of Accounting/Financial Systems
  • Perform Accounting Operational Activities
  • Perform Reporting Functions
  • Month-End Closing

Auditing Keywords

  • Plan and conduct audits
  • Knowledge of GAGAS (Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards)
  • Internal Controls
  • Risk Assessment
  • Audit Team Leader
  • Working Papers

Budgeting Keywords

  • Budget formulation, execution, and planning
  • Reviewing and analyzing budget estimates for accuracy and validity
  • Receiving budget estimate input
  • Analyzing, monitoring and tracking obligations and expenditures
  • Compiling budget data
  • Preparing and presenting budget reports
  • Financial systems experience
  • Regulatory Research

Step 2 – Cross-check Your Resume Against Your Keyword List

Next, do a thorough keyword analysis of your resume document. Can you find the keywords for your target position in the resume? If not, now is the time to think about how you can add language to your resume that describes how you performed that specific task. When you write new content for your federal resume, make sure you cover the top keywords in your resume.

Step 3 – Be Sure to List Your Top Accomplishments

Accomplishments are critical and set you apart from other financial candidates with similar skills and experience. Your resume should always highlight any unique benefits you bring to the position and your top accomplishments. When detailing your accomplishments, try to think in terms of CCAR (Context, Challenge, Action, Results) — what was the challenge, how did you address it, what was the result?

Examples of accomplishments for an Accountant:

  • Managed Journal Voucher Project. Determined accurate biweekly journal voucher entries in the GL; oversaw input.
  • Resolved GL discrepancies and provided solutions.
  • Troubleshot and resolved a long-standing accounting software problem that improved recording of automated GL entries.
  • Reengineered account reconciliation to provide a more systematic and efficient process.
  • Team Lead for Accounting Software Upgrade and primary liaison between the bank’s internal departments and the accounting software vendor during implementation of a new accounting system.

Step 4 – Use the Outline Format by The Resume Place to Put it All Together

Now that you have defined your keywords and your accomplishment, it is time to re-write your resume using the outline format. This format works well in the USA Jobs resumes builder and will make it easy for the HR person to see your experience and qualifications. Here is a short example. Additional examples can be found on the Resume Placed website (www.resume-place.com).

RESOLVE ACCOUNTING PROBLEMS: Analyze accounting exception reports, estimates, and other source documents for adequacy and propriety. Prepare variance analysis of balance sheets and income statements to pinpoint discrepancies. Investigate and identify accounting problems. Implement systems modifications and new procedures to improve accounting and reporting processes.

Coordinate audits. Monitor contractor performance. Prepare year-end financial statements and financial schedules for revenue and expenses, variance analysis, and operating lease obligations. Review investment and audit schedules prepared by staff. Brief accounting director and manager, orally and in writing, on audit progress, problems, and resolution steps. Ensure reporting deadlines are met.

Manage AUTOMATED SYSTEMS: Prepare accounting entries for the automated accounting system. Generate recurring and special financial reports. Track, update, reconcile, and manage the Fixed Asset (FA) accounting system. Review data accuracy and completeness. Investigate and resolve FA and GL system discrepancies. Reconcile physical inventories to FA asset system. Initiate adjustments. Prepare and file personal property tax returns. Coordinate system upgrades.

By following these suggestions and tips, you can create a standout federal resume for your target financial series and improve your chances of getting Best Qualified, Referred to a Supervisor, invited to an interview and even HIRED!

Posted by Kathryn Troutman on Jul 15, 2015 at 1:18 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Dec 24, 2020 Rich Gordon Philadelphia

I’ve recently applied for positions at the VA and Defense Logistics Agency. I received a rejection notice from the VA because I don’t already work for the government. I fear I’ll get the same notice from Logistics. Can anyone help shed some light on how to begin working for the Federal Government? Thank you!!

Fri, Nov 20, 2015

Great advice, but--please ensure that you meet the minimum education requirements for the series. For 510, 511, 512 (acctg, auditing, IRS agent) a degree is required including 24 hours of accounting. You can't be considered if you don't have the degree. For the 560 series (budget) and many others, no degree is required. Go to OPM website to view qual requirements for your desired series.

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