Q&A Responses from “Resume Tips for Prospective PMFs” Google+ Hangout

Earlier this week, GovLoop hosted a Google+ Hangout designed to help applicants to the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program in preparing their resumes. You can view the video recording and slides at this link:

Resume Tips for Prospective PMFs

Hangout participants asked over 25 questions and the PMF Program Office (PMFPO) took the time to respond to all of them. I am grateful to Latonia Page, Rob Timmins and the entire PMFPO staff for working with us to get great answers for you. I have organized them by the following categories:

  • Education and Experience
  • Format
  • References
  • Technical

If you have additional questions or need further clarification, you may submit them to [email protected] or ask them in the comments below.


1. As a PhD student in the biological sciences, I tried to “convert” my academic CV to more closely resemble the recommended Federal resume, but I’m finding it difficult to add things like “Key Accomplishments”. How imperative is it to include sections like “Key Accomplishments” and “Core Competencies” as a student with limited work experience, but over 10 years of research and teaching experience?

PMFPO: Applicants can submit any resume format, including an academic CV. For resume tips, please visit http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx.

2. As a PhD in the humanities, I have the same questions as Kristyn regarding converting a CV to a federal resume; I’d add a question about whether references must be included at this stage.

PMFPO: Yes, our resume tips suggest 2-3 references. For resume tips, please visit: http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx.

3. There were a couple of questions earlier about transitioning from an academic background to government service. Any tips on “interpreting” teaching experience to something Federal HR people would recognize and value?

PMFPO: In addition to our resume tips (found at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx), Finalists will be able to personalize their resumes for the positions agencies advertise. A resume should reflect the qualifications, education, and skills the agency identifies in their announcement.

4. Should we specify on our resume if we already have security clearance?

PMFPO: Yes. Such applicants should state the level of their clearance and how current it is. Note that not all clearances are transferable between agencies. If the hiring agency has any additional requirements or questions, the Finalist will be contacted.

5. There were times when I worked two jobs, one full time and one part time. How would I include this so it would not be confusing?

PMFPO: Applicants should identify any and all work experience, covering at least the past 5 years. Depending on whether or not a security clearance is required, a background investigation may be need for the past 5 to 15 years.

6. One more question–I understand the importance of tailoring your resume to the position, but for something like PMF where you are applying for something more general (not a specific position), how can we tailor our experience to something broader?

PMFPO: Applicants should follow the resume tips advertised on our website at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx. The PMF Program Office uses the applicant’s resume for a variety of reasons for eligibility in applying to the “program.” Those selected as Finalists may need to tailor their resume for the specific position advertised by the agency.

7. Should we include fellowships or scholarships?

PMFPO: Yes. Our resumes tips (found at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx) suggest applicants identify all work and education experiences, awards, leadership activities, honors, etc. All of these may result from the applicant’s participation in such fellowships and scholarships.

8. How to handle dual citizenships?

PMFPO: You should list both. Though the PMF Program is open to non-U.S. citizens, such opportunities are extremely rare. The vast majority of agencies will only appoint U.S. citizens. Having dual citizenships may impact a security clearance, but the hiring agency will inform the Finalist if there are any concerns.

9. I had a question for Virginia. I am a biological scientist currently in a Ph.D. program, but I would like to utilize the PMF opportunity to influence public policy and scientific funding. When I am I writing my resume, should I focus my key words and phrases towards a biological scientist classification or public policy classification?

PMFPO: If you are selected as a Finalist, you should tailor your resume specific to the agency’s advertised PMF announcement.

10. Do you have tips for converting the resume of a law student (which tends to be litigation oriented) to a federal PMF style resume? I know more and more law students are applying and becoming finalists, but law students tend not to have policy/management experience.

PMFPO: In addition to our resume tips (found at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx), many Finalists with law backgrounds are ideal for such positions; several accept positions in policy, contracting, claims, foreign affairs, and labor relations. Finalists should focus on the qualifications advertised by the agency.


11. I’ve heard that this year, the PMF resume should be tailored to a particular government occupational series or position – is this correct?

PMFPO: This is somewhat of a misconception. Both the President and OPM’s Hiring Reforms Initiatives promote applicants to utilize any resume format and optionally include a cover letter. What your question is referring to is that applicants (Finalists) should tailor their resume to the position being filled. If you have a financial background, for example, you may want to tailor your resume for a Budget Analyst position.

12. What is the modified chronological/outline format?

PMFPO: As long as the applicant provides a resume covering the items referenced in our resume tips (found at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx), applicants should list their education and employment history in chronological order. However, applicants can create a resume in any format.

13. Can we just use the resume guideline in USAJobs or do we have to make a new resume.?

PMFPO: Applicants can use any resume format. Since the USAJOBS Resume Builder was the most popular at the time, agencies became accustomed to its design and layout. It also include items not typically found in private sector resumes (e.g., Selective Service, citizenship, veterans’ preference, etc.), which can be found in our resume tips at http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/application-process/application-tips.aspx.

14. How critical is it that resume heading sections match the USA Jobs headings exactly? Currently I have: Eligibility, Qualifications, Core Competencies, Professional Experience, Education, Coursework, Awards, Selected Presentations, Publications, Computer Skills, Languages, and References

PMFPO: These are not critical, but follow a logical approach. As mentioned in a previous question, many agencies are accustomed to the design and layout of the USAJOBS resume builder. Applicants should make sure to cover the basics.

15. Could you clarify examples of the “sections” as well as the “sub-sections”? Perhaps in a way that is generally applicable to different positions and experiences?

PMFPO: Not sure of the question.

16. Any recommendations on how to fit employer location, supervisor contact info, and salary for each work experience? This is completely new from a standard resume.

PMFPO: You can identify this information for each entry in any format, including the “standard” resume.

17. I’m a little confused about the layout of the resume. Do you have sections like Project Management and then listing out accomplishments? If so, how are you tying accomplishments/duties to the actual jobs that were held?

PMFPO: You can list your accomplishments that way or in any way that shows all of your accomplishments. The accomplishments should relate to the position needing to be filled when agencies post PMF announcements.

18. Is there a way to transfer the USA Jobs Resume to the PMF application site?

PMFPO: You can print and fax in your USAJOBS resumes. You can print to an Adobe file format and upload. You can cut-and-paste to a word processor and upload.

19. To clarify, the resume can be longer than one page? I missed the beginning due to technical difficulties.

PMFPO: There is no limit to the resume; however, there is a file size limit of 3MB. There is a lot of advice saying to limit your resume to 1-2 pages. Some agencies will specify if there is a limit. The focus should be to identify all relevant employment, education, awards, etc., that address the qualifications the agency is requiring.

20. So you are saying “professional work experience” should come before “Education” correct?

PMFPO: As long as the resume captures both, there’s no mandatory order.


21. With regard to references–2 or 3? All professional, or academic as well?

PMFPO: References can be from either, including personal.

22. Should references be from the most recent experience, or go further back in our professional history?

PMFPO: Typically the newest entries are the ones agencies will call for references. But the agency may ask for additional references if needed.

23. Should references be different from supervisors, whose contact info you list with each experience under USAJOBS?

PMFPO: Not necessarily. The agency will ask for others if needed.

24. Are we including a list of references on our resume?

PMFPO: We suggest all applicants identify 2-3 references.


25. Can the transcript for the application be copied and pasted and saved as a word document? The PMF website says that it can be an unofficial version.

PMFPO: The transcript should be legible and include all common elements found in a transcript (e.g., full school name, address, contact information, degree program, courses, etc.).

26. Also, in looking over the discussion board on the Path to PMF site I noticed that you (Andrew) said you completed the assessment on a Mac using Firefox but on page 5 of the 2013 PMF assessment guide it only says you can use a Mac if you’re on a dual boot machine. It also specifically says only to use Internet Explorer version 7 or 8 ONLY…just curious what is the correct system to use. Thanks!

PMFPO: The Guide references those system requirements that have been confirmed as fully compatible. If an applicant encounters a problem using a browser or system not referenced, he/she may need to find alternative means to use those identified in the Guide.




Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply