The Application

Pro Tip - PMF CompetenciesWhen it comes to the application process, the experts said more than anything else:

“Be assertive, be creative, and make the program your own. No one has more control over their career success within the PMF program than you do.”

Your perfect PMF experience begins with the application. Since this step marks the first phase of the process, you might be tempted to complete it quickly at the eleventh hour on the due date. The message we received from career advisors was this: do not take anything for granted during the application process! It would be a shame for a small error in the application to prevent you from moving forward. We want you to excel and receive an appointment, so follow these steps to be sure you are on track with your application.

“It’s important to make sure that every step of the application is done accurately. I have several friends who would have been well-qualified, but they were not considered due to computer malfunction when submitting their initial application. If you were applying to the typical job you might be able to call and say ‘I tried to submit my resume by email, and didn’t get a response, did you receive it?’ You can’t do those types of things when you’re applying for PMF. You need to be a lot more detail-oriented in this application than you do in others.”

– Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class 2010, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Top 5 Tips for Completing Your Application

START EARLY. Make sure that you have given yourself enough time to complete your online application. Past applicants have reported having trouble with the online submission system, such as not being able to save attachments – problems that can be easily taken care of by starting well in advance of the October 15 deadline.

HAVE YOUR SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION READY. You will need a copy of your transcript(s). These copies can be unofficial or official. You will also need any and all documentation related to Veteran’s preference, Indian preference, and accommodations for those with disabilities.

UPDATE YOUR RESUME. For those who will be applying to work in the federal government for the first time, make sure that you know the specific details about how to correctly create a federal resume: [GovLoop Rock Your Resume Guide]. This will be an essential step to make sure that federal hiring agents understand your skillset and background. “A lot of PMFs and people in general didn’t realize that structuring your resume is a lot different from private industry,” said Lisa Allison-Lee, Veterans Affairs, Agency Coordinator.

UNDERSTAND THE PMF PROGRAM. Know what your commitment will be when you are hired as a PMF fellow, and why you are motivated to apply. This is a good opportunity to start thinking about your “elevator pitch” — quick talking points about yourself that will come in handy in later stages of the application as well.

HAVE SOMEONE REVIEW YOUR APPLICATION. This will cut down on small needless errors. Your career advisors would be good candidates for this type of assistance.

PMF Resume Cheat Sheet


  • Your resume can be in any format or style, but the file size cannot exceed 3 MB. There also is no length requirement, but we recommend that you take as many pages as you need to explain how your background and experience maps to the job requirements.
  • You have the option of faxing in your resume, uploading it (as a Word doc or PDF), or creating and submitting one through the USAJOBS’ resume builder.
  • Make sure to provide your full name and contact information.
  • It’s a good idea to tailor your resume to the 7 core PMF competencies. If named a Finalist, you will have the opportunity to modify your resume for specific job positions.
  • We suggest that you format your resume with similar headings and sections as those on USAJOBS since most agencies are already familiar with this layout. We also recommend that you make the information in your resume as easy to read as possible: include bullets and structure each section in an outline format.
  • When you’re done, double-check your resume for grammar, punctuation, spacing, and overall format. It’s also a good idea to have others, such as your career advisor, check your resume for content.

Key sections to include in your resume and tips for each section are included below:


  • List in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
  • Provide the name and contact information of your supervisor.
  • Remember that you don’t have to list everything. Focus on the experiences that are most relevant and portray who you are as a candidate and professional.
  • Focus on content: try using the CAR (context, action, result) strategy when discussing your accomplishments. Also highlight any knowledge, skills, or abilities that you gained through the experience.
  • Include quantity references when possible (i.e. managed a $X million project, taught X students, etc.)
  • Make yourself stand out overall by showing how you saved time or money, met deadlines, worked efficiently to achieve results, or served as an effective member of a team.


  • List in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
  • Include any honors, relevant coursework, licensures, and certifications.
  • List scholarships and fellowships, describing each briefly to give hiring managers a sense of the purpose and significance of the award.


  • List affiliations, volunteer work experience, and professional publications.
  • Include any awards, leadership activities, public speaking engagements, skills, and languages that you have not already discussed in previous sections.
  • State whether or not you are a U.S. citizen or authorized to work in the U.S. If you have dual citizenship, mention both.
  • Include information regarding selective service enrollment and Veteran’s and Indian preference.
  • List out any and all security clearances, including their level and current status.


  • Include 2-3 references. They can be from personal, professional, or academic contacts.
  • For each reference, include their title, contact information (phone and email), and the type of reference (i.e. personal, professional, academic).
  • These references do not have to be different from those listed as supervisors in the Experience section. If an agency needs more references, they will ask you.


For more information about maximizing your resume for the federal government and the PMF Program, please review the following resources:


Want more tips about the entire PMF Process? Download the full version of the guide here!

The guide shares advice with applicants based on interviews with current and past PMFs, career advisors, and federal agency program coordinators.


2017-18 PMF Application Open Thread Discussion

2016 PMF Application: OPEN THREAD
(Archived – 2015 PMF Application Open Thread

Archived – 2014 PMF Application Open Thread)

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