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Does USAJobs.gov Use A System to Scan, Read, & Rank Resumes?

Getting a federal job can be even harder than getting a private one. Your resume needs to be longer, for instance, with lots of in-depth details. There are also more instructions and rules to follow when applying. The application process tends to be more drawn-out, too. With all these extra challenges, it’s no surprise that many applicants search online for a certified professional federal government resume writing service for help.


It’s also common for applicants to have questions about the application process. Many wonder, for example, if USAJobs.gov – the official job board for federal agencies – uses a system to scan and read resumes automatically. Well, the answer to that is a little more complicated than a simple “Yes” or “No.”


Keep reading for all the details.


image of a resume with the words "How To Get Your Resume past Application Tracking System" with yellow background

Does USAJobs Use Software to Scan Resumes?

Before we dig into the details, let’s provide a clear answer to this question. The first thing to note is that USAJobs is technically just a job board. It’s simply a place where governmental agencies can post job listings and attract applicants. When you submit a resume or application via USAJobs, it gets delivered to the relevant agency for its HR specialists to look at.


In other words, USAJobs doesn’t read the resume on behalf of agencies. Therefore, it doesn’t use any kind of software (like Applicant Tracking Software, or ATS) to scan resumes or search for keywords. However, that doesn’t mean that your resume will instantly be read by a real person. USAJobs admits on its own site that some agencies do indeed use scanning software.


How Do Agencies Scan and Rank Resumes?

So, you don’t have to worry about USAJobs scanning your resume. But there’s still a chance that it’ll have to pass some automated scans before coming under the gaze of an actual person. Just like how the majority of Fortune 500 companies now use ATS systems, an increasing number of agencies are employing their own bots and scanners to save time sorting through resumes.


The way in which these systems work can vary from agency to agency. However, in general, the scanning tools will look through resumes to identify certain keywords and phrases that are related to the role in question. Some will also carry out more advanced contextual searches of the text to quickly determine a candidate’s eligibility and qualifications.


If your resume has the right keywords in the right places, you won’t have to worry. You should be able to pass the scans and get through to a human review. However, if you’re lacking some of the relevant keywords or your resume isn’t quite formatted the right way, you could miss out. This is a source of major concern for many applicants interested in federal work.


man standing with the words "Applicant Tracking Software" and examples of how the ATS works

How to Give Your Federal Resume the Best Chance of Success

It can be both daunting and discouraging for applicants to learn that their resumes might never be read by a real person. Finding a federal resume example online to help you understand what a federal resume format and length should look like can be very helpful.


But there are plenty of ways in which you can give your federal resume a boost and improve your odds of getting a call back or interview. Here are some proven tips and tricks to keep in mind.


Include Relevant Keywords

Obviously, given that agency scanners look for specific keywords when reading resumes, the easiest way to beat the scans is to include keywords in your document. You can find guides and resources online to help you in terms of which keywords to add. In general, focus on words that are related to the role you’re applying for, highlighting the most relevant and crucial skills for that job. Many federal resumes even feature a list of keywords right at the top to prepare the candidate.


Match Your Resume to the Role

No matter what kind of job you’re going for, it’s important to tailor your resume to match it. This is especially crucial in the world of federal work. If your resume is too generic, it will easily fail scans or simply get rejected right away by recruiters. You’ll need to read the job listing on USAJobs in detail, ensuring that you address all the desired skills, qualifications, and experiences in your resume.


Use Clear and Tidy Formatting

A lot of ATS systems and other scanning tools only work on resumes that are formatted in a neat and standard way. If you mix things up and experiment with alternative fonts, layouts, headers, footers, or even file types, you run the risk of sending your resume to its doom. Stick with the standard templates offered on USAJobs and avoid anything fancy or obscure in your formatting.


image of a resume with the words "When using abbreviations and acronyms on a resume, focus on clarity above all else"

Spell Out Acronyms

Depending on the type of work you do, there may be certain industry-specific acronyms that you use regularly. However, you shouldn’t expect the person (or software) reading your resume to understand them. It’s therefore important to spell out acronyms the first time you use them in your resume, making it clear what you’re talking about, rather than throwing out terms which could cause confusion.


Add Lots of Detail

With private sector resumes, brevity is key. Candidates are encouraged to trim the fat and cut their resumes down to a single page, if possible. Well, for federal resumes, the opposite is true. These kinds of resumes demand as much detail as possible. HR specialists will want to know all about your previous work and the duties you carried out, so don’t worry about adding “too much” info. Instead, feel free to add lots of details about your past work, accomplishments, skills, and qualifications.


Perfect Your Resume to Get the Federal Job of Your Dreams

With more and more agencies using automated scanning software, it’s crucial for today’s applicants to ensure that their resumes are just right. By including the most relevant and valuable keywords, as well as tailoring your resume to suit each role, you’ll have the best chance of success. Follow the tips above to help with this and consider reaching out to a federal resume writer service in Denver.

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