Resume & Application Tips

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Some helpful tips to keep in mind about the USAJOBS application process:  

Carefully read the job announcement before applying. It will contain all the information you need and answer many questions you may have about the position, including location, grade level, telework-eligibility, etc.

You do not want anyone reviewing your resume to be confused about you, what you’ve done, or if you are qualified for the position.

  • Be concise and clear about what you did/do, your skills, etc.
  • List your work history in chronological order, starting with what is most recent
  • Use bullet points where possible vs. paragraphs

Make sure that your resume includes the following:

  • Dates (month and year) for all of your work or volunteer experience (also include how many hours on average you worked each week).
  • Salary information.
  • Supervisor’s name and contact information.

Do NOT include:

  • Unnecessary personally-identifying information, such as your Social Security Number, home address (you may list City, State instead), date of birth, or any social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Including unnecessary personal information that can get you disqualified for a position (this information is listed on the job announcement).
  • Typos (Please run your resume and any other communication like a cover letter through a spellcheck before sending it, so that you can put your best foot forward.)

On average, federal resumes are 2-4 pages in length. The key is lots of detail – but the right details. For example:

Don’t just list a database, tool or computer programming language; use a bullet point to demonstrate how you used them in your daily work or studies.

  • Answer these questions with your bullet points:
    • What were you challenged to do?
    • How did you go about doing it?
    • Who did the project affect or who was the customer?
    • What was the impact of your work? What results did you attain?
    • What metrics can you use to quantify your work/volunteer experience?
  • If you are applying to an IT or Cybersecurity position:
    • Map your resume to the cyber work roles found within CISA.
    • Make sure to include demonstrated experience that speaks to the following four required competencies:
      • Attention to Detail
      • Customer Service
      • Oral Communication
      • Problem Solving
    • In addition to the above four required competencies, general knowledge* for cybersecurity positions include: 
      • Cybersecurity and privacy principles
      • Computer networking concepts and protocols, and network security methodologies
      • Laws, regulations, policies and ethics as they relate to cybersecurity and privacy
      • Risk management processes (e.g., methods for assessing and mitigating risk)
      • Cyber threats and vulnerabilities
      • Specific operational impacts of cybersecurity lapses

*A bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, information systems, information systems management or related subjects may be substituted for experience at the early/developmental (GS-5 or in some cases, GS-7) level. A master’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, information systems, information systems management or related subjects may be substituted for experience at the entry/junior (GS-9) level.

Provide all required documents.

  • Be sure to provide ALL documents listed as required on the job announcement. If qualifying based on education, this will include copies of your unofficial transcripts. Please note transcript requirements and provide one that meets them. If you are a current or former federal employee, this will include your most recent SF-50. If you are a veteran, you will need to provide a DD-214 and an SF-15 (if applicable). If you are an individual with disabilities, you will need to provide a Schedule A letter. Other noncompetitive candidates will have to provide the required documentation of their noncompetitive status.

Be mindful of the closing dates.

  • Be sure you complete each application in its entirety before the closing date. Some CISA job applications require completion of a special USAHire assessment that will be emailed to you. Review the job announcement closely for this information, and if required, don’t forget to check your spam folder for the link to the assessment – your application is not complete without it!

Monitor the status of your application(s) on the “Profile Dashboard.”

  • It is located on the homepage of the USAJOBS website (after login). Notifications can include: “Received," "Incomplete," "Referred," "Qualified but Not Referred," "Selected," or "Not Selected.” Notifications will be sent via email and will include a description of your application status. If you have a question about your application status, you may reach out to the point of contact listed on the bottom of the job announcement.
  • Please note that the point of contact listed is not a hiring manager and will likely not be able to provide more information than USAJOBS. However, if you do reach out, please include the Job Announcement Number, so that the point of contact knows which position you are referring to. The Announcement Number may have CISA or the CISA division in it and should look something like this: JDP-12345614-24-KJ, CISA-DHA-1207223-24-KRV, or IOD-DE-12363972-24-TH.
  • You will usually get an email saying you are tentatively eligible for a position based on your self-rating. You will also get an email if you were or were not referred to a hiring manager and if you were found eligible (this requires review by an HR specialist). For more information about the various job statuses on USAJOBS, please see their help page.

View a copy of the job announcement even after it's closed. 

  • You can do this by reviewing your application history in your “Profile Dashboard.” If you get contacted for an interview, you’ll want to look it over again to refresh your memory.

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