Writing Your Resume

Search our Site



To get started, think of a "wow" project with which you have been involved. You want to catch the selection committee's attention in the first paragraph, so start with your most impressive work and go from there. Can you think of a project that would "wow" a selection committee?

Now that you have a project in mind, follow these steps to success:

Step 1: Research

It is critical that you understand the qualifications needed for the job for which you are applying. Take time to read the job announcement thoroughly. Talk to people who are currently in the job to find out what skills and knowledge they use on a daily basis and learn their priorities. Read the Position Description, which can be found on the Office of Personnel website.

Step 2: Reflect

Think of all the work experience you have had in your life. SSA experience is the priority, but do not feel limited by that. Think of other activities in which you have participated. Experience as a volunteer, a college student, or at a part-time job can also be considered. You could have completed your "wow" project during one of these activities.

Step 3: Analyze

After listing all of your work experiences that will impress the selection committee, analyze how each fits a qualification needed for the position. Consider these questions:

  • What types of skills do I use in my current job? How do I apply them to my work in order to accomplish goals?
  • What kind of supervision do I receive? Is my work mostly independent? How am I reviewed? How do I receive assignments?
  • What guidelines do I follow to accomplish my work? Are they difficult to interpret? Are they written or oral?
  • How does my work affect the work of others? Do I interact with others on a daily basis? Do I provide information and assistance to others?

Step 4: Write

Now that you have gathered information, it is time to start writing. Consider this your personal career story. Remember these tips:

  • Start with a catchy introduction, to "wow" the reader;
  • Use brief sentences;
  • Longer is not better -- be direct and to-the-point; and
  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms -- assume the reader will not understand your use of acronyms. Spell everything out.

Step 5: Believe

If you truly believe that you are the right person for the job, it will be clear in your writing. Think about your experience, focus on the positive, and translate your skills to the reader. Take the time to perfect your writing and give yourself ample time before the cut-off date. Grammatical errors will prove that you are the wrong person for the job. Ask several people to edit your writing.



Identify Their Motivation

Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give insight into his or her management style.

“...if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out their motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it looks to other employees and their superiors.”

Don’t Let It Affect Your Work

No matter how bad their behavior, avoid letting it affect your work. Serve in excellence anyway. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!).

“Don’t try to even the score by working slower, or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.”

Stay One Step Ahead

Especially when you're dealing with a micromanager, head off his/her requests by anticipating them and getting things done before they come to you.

“…a great start to halting micromanagement in its tracks is to anticipate the tasks that your manager expects and get them done well ahead of time. If you reply, ‘I actually already left a draft of the schedule on your desk for your review,’ enough times, you’ll minimize the need for her reminders. She’ll realize that you have your responsibilities on track—and that she doesn’t need to watch your every move.”

Set Boundaries

Working with someone who seems to have no boundaries means that you have to go ahead and set them.

“One of the challenges of unlikable people is that they come with equally unlikable behavior—and it’s important to learn how to distance yourself from that behavior. As Robert Frost said, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”

Stop Assuming Management Knows Everything

Just because someone has a managerial title doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, all the time.

“I realized then that, just because someone is in a position of authority, doesn’t mean he or she knows everything. From that point forward, I stopped assuming the title ‘manager was equivalent to ‘all knowing.’

Act as the Leader and Add Value

When dealing with an incompetent leader, sometimes it's best to make some leadership decisions on your own. Add value in all that you do.

If you know your area well enough, there is no reason to not go ahead creating and pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines the boss, so keep him or her in the loop.

Identify Triggers

If your boss has management problems, identify what triggers her/his meltdowns and be extra militant about avoiding those triggers. Make yourself look good which in turn makes them look good also. Serve your way to a better flowing relationship.

Avoid Future Challenges

When interviewing with a new component, do your research ahead of time to make sure you're not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.

“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new area. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy, of course.”

Woodlawn, Maryland

Monthly meetings