How to Get More Federal Job Referrals by Using the C.A.R. Resumes


Writing the perfect resume can be challenging, but putting your experience into a Federal Resume C.A.R. format can make it even more so. C.A.R. (Challenge, Action, and Results) is an essential need for any Federal H.R. Specialist to assess your abilities and skills. This is vital when it comes to an open job vacancy that you are applying for. This type of resume is critical as it provides the context and scope for your experience and will allow you to showcase your extraordinary potential.


While working on your resume, you should center your C.A.R. story on the qualifications that are required for the position you are applying for. You want to give the hiring staff a reason to hire you, and they want to see that you meet the qualification. Even if your experience in something is nothing less than spectacular, unless it’s needed for the job your applying for, then leave it out. You don’t want to waste an H.R. Specialist’s time.



The anatomy of a C.A.R. story is everything. It’s essential to understand that when you write your story, a prospective employee would rather see eight results-oriented accomplishments over a bunch of generic job responsibilities. Keep in mind that your past success will mean future success to a potential employer. This is, after all, your job resume is not a job description. Sufficient and detailed information will be the strategy you need to take to rise above all the other candidates and get the interview you need to shine.

A well-written resume is a marketing tool for a successful job search campaign. With all forms of printed communication, you may need a few revisions to make sure it’s at the standard it needs to be. As you edit and refine your resume and preparing for an interview, you are telling a C.A.R. story.



The C.A.R. format is used in the experience section of your resume to provide scope, definition, and legitimacy to the experience factors you claim qualifies you for the position. These experience claims should be are tailored around the list of job qualifications outlined in the vacancy announcement. The acronym C.A.R. stands for Challenge, Action, and Results.


C (Challenge) – The challenge is often a specific problem or organizational goal that had to be accomplished. When it comes to your resume, each achievement you list is a challenge that you have successfully responded to and not just an accomplishment of a task. Remember the bigger the challenge the more significant the results will appear to the HR Specialist and Hiring Authority.

A (Action) – The specific actions taken by you to address the challenge. Demonstrating yourself as an achiever will take a compelling presentation of all your actions. This will show that you are a results driven individual, who make things happen, and will get the results your prospective employer wants. Make sure to use strong action verbs to present this information on your resume.

R (Results) – The are specific, measured, and tangible examples of the results of your actions. This is the evidence that your accomplishments and skills have been successful. These results MUST accomplish two things. First they must demonstrate that you were able to solve the problem. Second, they must provide either quantitative(metrics) and/or qualitative facts to backup your assessment of success.



HR Specialist are interested in hearing your story. More specifically, the story of your career experiences and accomplishments. When it comes to telling the story of your career experience, IT MUST BE compelling, well-defined, understandable, and concise. This is where C.A.R. is most valuable. It tells your story in a meaningful manner without it turning into a  Harry Potter novel.


Below are some additional tips concerning the use of the C.A.R. format that will help you when you create your resume and examples.




  • Keep it brief and with enough detail to get the point across.
  • Provide context, talk about people or groups that you may have worked with and the environment that you worked in  – This will help others understand the significance of the challenge
  • Keep the challenge in a positive context, never speak negatively about the organization or past colleagues



  • Highlight the steps taken to address the challenge
  • Focus on your ability to solve problems within the organization you are applying for
  • Summarize as much as possible – the H.R. Specialists will only have so much time to review your resume



  • Provide specific examples of your results
  • Present your results in measurable and tangible facts (Use numbers and percentages in your story as much as possible)
  • Talk about your overall results
  • Don’t be modest

The experience section of your resume is your chance to showcase your “Awesomeness.” You want to show them. If you have a hard time presenting your experience details, C.A.R. will help you through this process. Ask yourself what the stories are behind my accomplishments. Consider what was going on at my last position – what issues were you tasked to take on and address. When it comes to your resume, give the reader some background. You don’t have to write a novel, just a small hint or blurb to entice them. You want to show off your skills and accomplishments in a compelling way to impress your prospective employer.


Make Sure to Read My New Book




  • Why you should ditch most resume-writing tips that focus on business resumes
  • Analyze federal job announcements and read between the lines
  • Make your skills and work experience really stand out
  • How to avoid the typical mistakes that make most resumes look unprofessional
  • How to write a cover letter that truly highlights your awesomeness
  • And much more!

Need Help With Your Federal Resume?

I’ve have over a decade of experience writing reviewing and recommending federal job applicant resumes. CLICK HERE to learn more about how we can help you get hired for that dream federal position.

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