Applying for a government job? Be careful. While all federal agency job listings and application tools can be accessed through USAJOBS, federal agencies don't all use the same resume builders and databases. Lose track of the agency and the resume builder on which you've last updated your resume, and you could lose your opportunity to land that next job.
Take the case of Kristen Taylor. Interested in a position in the Navy and having applied to another listing there some time back, she assumed she had updated her resume at the Department of the Navy's Civilian Human Resource site. She had updated her government resume on one resume builder, but it wasn't at the Navy's site. So, while her resume was posted in the Navy database, it wasn't up-to-date.
The result? Although she was qualified, she was not considered for the job, because she applied with an old version of her resume. Had she better managed the application process, she would have increased her chances of being referred to the supervisor for consideration for the job.
Submit to Multiple Listings and Multiple Resume Builders
To avoid Taylor's fate, federal job seekers benefit by actively managing their job application process. Active federal job seekers often apply to one or two positions per week at various federal agencies. As the largest US employer, the US government can have some 23,000 job listings posted across its various agencies on a single day. And job candidates often forget to update their resumes in the database of each agency to which they've applied.
If All Jobs Are Accessed Through USAJOBS, Why the Confusion?
USAJOBS basically acts like a portal. While agency listings can be accessed through that site, job seekers are often directed to the individual agency to apply, and some agencies use their own resume builder and application system. In fact, government agencies use a total of more than 75 builders and application systems. So updating your resume in one agency database doesn't mean you've updated your resume at every agency.
Use a Spreadsheet
How can you better manage this process?
A spreadsheet is often the most efficient way to keep track of where you are in the application process for each job you've applied for. Include the date of application, the job for which you applied, when your resume was last updated there and the results. You should also include passwords, user names and emails used.
How to Save Time
Bear in mind that the format of each resume builder can vary significantly. For example, the Army's resume builder, because job seekers can copy and paste their entire Work Experience section into one field. The Navy's resume builder is more cumbersome with multiple fields for copying and pasting. The application has plenty of space -- up to six pages -- but creating a resume can be time consuming. And the USAJOBS Resume Builder requires more typing but, as the official government jobs Web site, is vital to understand.
Copy-and-Paste Job Search
To make the online resume submission process less time-consuming, you can make the resume-building process more efficient. Before applying, write an electronic resume in Word or another software program and save it on your home computer. The online resume builders on most government agency sites have an optimum resume length of approximately 12,000 to 16,000 characters with spaces. Before submitting a resume, check character-length instructions for each field.
You should also be prepared to allot ample time for building your resume. Submitting a resume can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the agency's builder. You need to take the time to do it right. The resume sometimes is not only the application, but it is HR's way to examine a candidate's qualifications. Sometimes the resume can even take the place of an interview.
What's Happened to Kristen Taylor?
Even she now is managing her resume submissions with a spreadsheet -- keeping track of applications, dates and online results. And when she updates one resume in one database, she updates it in all other resume builders as well.