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Highlight Relevant Experience on Federal Resumes

Highlight Relevant Experience on Federal Resumes

Kathryn Troutman, Federal Career Coach and President (

Federal Resume Strategies

Limit Work Experience to the Past 20 Years
Stop writing about positions before 1988. Do not list dates past 1988 (around 20 years of professional experience). I have always recommended 20 years of employment history dates ONLY in a federal resume.

Prior to 1988:
For relevant positions that are important prior to 1988, you can list the positions, but keep them to a short summary. For example, consider this style: Name of position, name of organization, city, state (2 years). Two sentences with description. Name of another position, name of organization, city, state.

Recent and Relevant Experience:
The official instructions from the Office of Personnel Management state that your resume should contain “recent and relevant positions”. Recent could mean: 5 years, 10 years. More than 10 years experience would just give background and the full story of your career.

RELEVANT: Review your work experience positions and decide which positions are relevant. Focs your writing on the relevant positions. Add more descriptions and content for the more relevant positions. Keep the description short for the positions that are not relevant.

Gaps in Dates of Employments
You do NOT have to fill in every month and year with the Federal Resume. If you have a couple of positions that are not relevant and you might want to leave them out, go ahead and leave the out. The HR Specialists will not be adding up every month and year anymore. They are looking for specialized experience relevant to their position.

‘One Year Specialized Experience’:
Most vacancy announcements state in the qualifications section that the HR specialist is looking for One Year Specialized Experience similar to the duties section in the resume. So, actually, they are really only looking for One Year. But you might have Six Years. That’s okay, that’s great. That could help you get Best Qualified. Just know that the HR specialist will be particularly looking for One Year Spec. Experience. This one year experience could be from 2007, or 2003, or 2000. It may not matter what year you got that One Year Specialized experience. However, recent is the best.

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