The SF 171 (Standard Form 171) is one of the acceptable application forms or documents for Federal employment, but is no longer the only acceptable form.
Until January 1995, the SF 171 was the required application form for Federal employment. Now applicants can apply using an SF 171, OF-612, OF-510-compliant "Federal" Resume, or any other written format of their choice — provided the Federal Resume or other written format meets the requirements of the OF-510 (a document specifying the types of application information needed) — in addition to specific information requested in the job vacancy announcement. If your resume or application doesn't provide all of the required information, you may lose consideration for a job.
When completing the SF 171, carefully follow the application instructions. Be sure to include all of your skills and qualifications which meet the requirements in the vacancy announcement. If you need to attach continuation sheets to illustrate all of your qualifications, do so. Personnel who read and screen your application are searching for "buzzwords" or "keywords" that indicate you are a likely fit for the position. As with all application forms, it is recommended that you professionally write the information in typewritten form.