Whatever Works

Things that apparently help in writing a federal job application package (resume and KSA – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities – statement) for a return client include:

  • Seltzer water
  • Coffee (time for a refill at ten minutes ’til midnight)
  • Lightly snoring dog
  • “Bhangra Smash Hits” on Apple Music
  • Lap blanket for working in disproportionately air-conditioned basement
  • Internet for looking up context on stuff in client’s work history

Things that do not help:

  • Internet for everything else

Resume Killers

Liz Ryan is one of three HR writers I follow on Twitter, and I agree with all of her picks for “Ten Phrases That Are Killing Your Resume” on Forbes.com. Here is another resume formulation I’d like to see less often:

  • “Seeking to advance my career”

Not that I begrudge anyone the opportunity to advance, but that’s not why I need to hire someone. I need to hire someone because I have an unmet need in my organization. Candidates who demonstrate awareness of that fact and pitch themselves accordingly warm the cockles of my bureaucratic heart.

My pet peeve as a federal hiring manager is when I can’t figure out from a narrative descriptions of position duties what someone actually did at a job or how they demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities* I’m looking for. Five thousand characters gives you enough space to simply say what the job was and how you did it before you start plugging in all the key words and phrases from the job announcement text to satisfy the Hiring Manager Algorithm.

For federal employees, I recommend keeping a human-language version of your resume on hand. It will give you something to share when a prospective boss or mentor wants to see your CV. It also helps in customizing your USAJOBS resume(s) when you’re applying for positions.**

*Yeah sure, they say they got rid of KSAs on federal job applications. What they really did was eliminate the KSA essay you had to include along with your resume on each job application. So instead of having a resume you could use for multiple job applications …

**Now you have to weave the KSA language from the job announcement into the narrative for “position duties” for each job on your resume. In other words, you have to customize a resume for each and every job application. Thanks, OPM!

Insomnia or Procrastination?

I spent the better part of this weekend working on applying for a federal job in Michigan that would be awesome. I also spent some time working on an essay that I want(ed) to enter in a contest. I put the desire in tentative past tense because I believe I have missed the deadline for submitting (and presumably first completing) it. My work was leavened with a lot of pleasure reading (The Pale KingYear of Yes, and Reality Hunger), a fair amount of child transport, and an unconscionable amount of clicking back and forth between Facebook and Twitter as though something important were going to happen there.

It is now 2:30 AM on Monday. I have to be awake in four hours. I have given up on weaving phrases from the job announcement into narrative descriptions of my professional experience and abilities. I have not yet had the heart to find my copy of The New Philosopher to see if the deadline has been influenced by the Leap Year. I ought to go to sleep and yet I am awake. It is quiet and no one wants anything from me!

This is not the first time I’ve done this to myself in the past week. On Tuesday night I actually pulled an all-nighter, initially for the joy of being conscious and alone in a quiet living room (Dino Spouse having driven to South Carolina for an in-person farewell to Soldatik before the latter’s departure for Korea) and then out of professional frustration at the backlog of work I’ve been piling up. Wednesday did not work out terrifically well, though I did enjoy my afternoon nap after I fled the office early for fear of conking out at my desk.

Speaking of which, now I am ready to sleep.

Collateral Duties

Sitting in a car for hours at a time is painful and boring. Sitting in a car for hours at a time and covering the same stretch of I-95 in Northern Virgina repeatedly is painful, boring, and maddening. Spending a Friday evening and a Saturday as Teen Taxi after a full work week is … well, it does not bring out the best in me. Let’s just say that I have seen more of Potomac Mills and environs than I ever want to see again.

Lesson learned: when TeenBot asks me if I can give his friend a ride to another friend’s house, I need to ask “In which city?” before answering.

Other lesson learned: when I tell TeenBot he can hang out for a little while at the mall, I need to make it clear that “a little while” does not equal “enough time to watch a feature film.” (On the bright side, I now know that “The Fault In Our Stars” will not suck when Mouse inevitably asks to see it after reading the novel.)

Today’s project is writing a federal resume and application statements for A Paying Customer. I love paying customers. I’d rather write people’s memoirs and love letters, mind, but helping people apply for federal jobs appears to be something I’m good at. It brings in some pin money for orthopedic shoes and unexpected runs to and from Woodbridge. Contact me to find out more about my rates and track record.