Hello Shara--- To answer your question of the "cutting my teeth in Gov't contracts", the advice I would give you is this (which you might already know): Make sure the resume states EXACTLY, word-for-word, what the job description says if they have the specific experience. DO NOT expect anyone you submit the resume to to "read between the lines". The expectation is to get the resume past any gatekeepers who haven't a clue to the position or requirements. Most candidates will think it's a pain in the butt--- but if the job description says "Must have 5 years+ experience tying shoes." the resume must have "I have 5+ years experience tying shoes." somewhere in it. Makes life easier for Hiring Managers as well.
Also-- government departments are audited occasionally-- and, by law, they can pick out a random position, with a request to see a job description and the employee's resume. If the employee's resume doesn't fit word-for-word the job decription? BY LAW the employee will be terminated regardless of years on the job because the auditer doesn't know if the employee has the required experience--- and the resume isn't showing it-- so technically there is an unqualified employee in that position. (Dept heads have been let go because of an audit.)