After transitioning from the military or while you are trying to land a job in national security, you may be weighing your options on whether to join a defense contractor or apply for a federal job. With both, having a well written resume in place is critical.

Lisa Harris joins the Security Clearance Careers Podcast to chat about mastering your federal resume. She’s a veteran and has her own YouTube channel, Easy Federal Resumes and More, where she shares information that will empower and support individual’s efforts to get their foot in the door with the federal government. She offers insights on creating a highly qualified federal resume, preparing for the security clearance process, and much more.

We’ve written in the past on whether working for the government directly is best, or if supporting as a government contractor is more attractive. Really, it depends on the individual applicant as there are pros and cons to each. What are the pros for joining the workforce as a federal employee? Harris notes that the pay is better, and it can offer you mobility, especially having federal work under your belt for your future resume. If there are any cons of federal work, it is certainly the bureaucracy of paperwork.

Harris is a veteran, and through her own transition, and supporting others through their transition while working for the Department of Labor, has gathered tricks if you are transitioning out of the military and want to work in national security as a federal employee. She advises to get straight back into it – whether as a contractor for short term or long-term, or straight into working for the federal government. Maintaining your employment is critical to keeping  your security clearance.

Quick tips for federal resumes

What are some notorious things people do wrong? Not having the resume built, or not fully explaining what you bring to the table is the biggest reason for rejection. Have a federal resume on hand – and she says that your federal resume should be at least four pages if you’ve had a significant career. The point is, if you’re being thorough to get into the federal government, you’ll have an extensive resume to utilize the full character limit. Being concise but fully describing your knowledge, skills and abilities.

What’s different for federal resumes is you are encouraged to use all the space, where in the contracting world, longer resumes are frowned upon by recruiters (so long as they maintain all of the necessary keywords).

If you aren’t in the field, Harris has a few tips for those joining the federal workforce. Patience, attention to detail, being thorough, and leaving your assumptions at the door will help you through the process. She also states, “Having all of the information at hand for the enormity of paperwork is critical.” Follow Lisa Harris on YouTube, through her channel: Easy Federal Resumes and More.

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸

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