Government Resume Guide: How to Translate Private Sector Skills

Are you worried that your private sector skills wouldn’t translate to the public sector? 

Former private sector employees will need to do much more than just update their resumes to appeal to a public sector employer. Put yourself in the shoes of Government employers. The majority are risk-averse when hiring, so your resume needs to reassure them that you’re a good match and that you understand their specific goals. 

Also, Government resumes are very different from private sector resumes in that they are usually tailored to each role and include a lot of supplemental information (e.g., achievements to demonstrate a specific skill). Your resume should also perfectly complement your pitch or statement of claims

In this article, we’ll explain how to make your resume stand out when applying for highly competitive roles in the Federal, State or Local Government. 

Address the needs of the employer

Research the position so you’ll fully understand how the job responsibilities of the role will support the overall purpose of the Department or Agency you’re applying at. 

You’ll need to evaluate your entire experience to identify the skills and achievements that best position you for the role. Remove irrelevant duties that veer away from this focus. For example, previous leadership functions, even voluntary, could help when applying for team leader, manager or director roles (APS 6 and up). Include examples or achievement stories, as much as possible, to demonstrate your skills. 

Deliver the goods

Your resume will stand out if it’s targeted and key info is easy to find (ideally, within the top half of the first page of your resume). Your goal is to make sure Government employers don’t have to hunt for critical information and that they’ll be able to see this upfront. 

Write a compelling ‘Professional Summary’ section that highlights the areas you excel in, along with other crucial factors, such as key achievements or skills. The goal is to make it immediately clear to public sector employers what you can offer, compelling them to read the rest of your resume. 

Include a skills section to provide a snapshot of your capabilities and behaviours aligned with work level standards. Your skills section can be brief that just list down your different skills in bullet points. Or it can be expanded to include a sentence or relevant achievement that supports each skill. 

Below is a list of important skills and attributes usually required when applying for public sector positions: 

  • Ability to communicate clearly in both verbal and written formats 
  • Ability to deal confidently with and build productive working relationships with internal and external stakeholders 
  • Capability to work independently and in collaboration with others to achieve the intended results 
  • Judgement, intelligence, commonsense and analytical abilities to be able to think strategically and support the organisation’s direction 
  • Personal drive and integrity, including personal courage, professionalism and commitment to personal development 

It’s also important to mention your ability to learn, including your capability to pick up any new tasks or systems. You’ll need to back this up with evidence on your resume by highlighting your learning achievements in your private sector jobs. 

Write in the employer’s language

Government Departments and Agencies usually use keyword scanning software (ATS), so your resume needs to contain  keywords found in the job advertisement. 

Also, when switching to the public sector, keep in mind that acronyms are not universally understood. Try to avoid acronyms, or, if necessary, be sure to spell them out on the first reference.

Be careful when writing your job titles. You may need to add an explanatory line to describe the scope of your private sector roles or even rewrite in public sector terminology without necessarily giving yourself a demotion or promotion in the process.

For example: Buyer (Equivalent to Procurement Specialist)  

In Summary

Translating your private sector experience into public service is challenging but not impossible.

Once you’ve addressed each of the areas, you’ll emerge with a compelling resume that might just open the right doors for you in the public sector. 

Have you got more questions about what to include on your public service resume?

Start building your public service resume by using this free template.

Or get in touch with our team.

Our team at Rev-Up Your Resume has vast experience in preparing resumes, selection criteria and pitches for Government applications. We’ve been helping clients by taking the stress out of writing a professional resume that includes the right keywords, experience and competencies while passing through any scanning software used.