As a Veteran, you have a couple of different tools that can give you an edge in getting a job at VA – most notably Veterans’ preference.
“In every application to VA, you will list your qualifications, and the recruiter will place you in a category based on your various qualifications,” explained Tim Blakney, a national recruitment consultant with VA. “If you’re a Veteran, you can be ranked ahead of non-Veterans because of your service.”
What that means for you, as a Veteran or transitioning military, is a chance to get a leg up when it comes to your future with VA. We can help you figure out how the system works so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with seeking Veterans’ preference for a VA job.
To secure Veterans’ preference, there are a few basic eligibility requirements that you must first meet. Most critically, you must have an honorable or general discharge, and you should provide a copy of your DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other acceptable documentation as part of your application for your resume.
It is important to note that there are some exemptions for preference. Retirees at the rank of O-5 or higher are not eligible for preference unless they are disabled Veterans, and both National Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes do not qualify for preference.
Confirming preference applies
A common hang-up you may face is making sure the job you want supports Veterans’ preference. Not every federal position is open to Veterans and Veterans’ preference does not apply to every position, so it pays to confirm.
The easiest way to verify is by using the search function on USAJobs.gov. In each advertisement, you’ll want to check the “This job is open to” section.
When a job is open to Veterans, you’ll see an icon that looks like a white shield or a badge on a green circle. That’s your signal that your Veterans’ preference can be applied.
If you want to narrow your options down to jobs specifically offering preference to Veterans, you can also select the “Veterans” filter in your search. Your results will then display only jobs open to Veterans.
How preference applies
When an agency uses a category rating system, as VA does, preference candidates who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10% or more are placed at the top of the highest category on the referral list, unless that position is specifically scientific or professional at the GS-9 level or higher.
Candidates with a less than 10% disability rating, or no disability rating at all, are placed above non-preference candidates within their assigned category.
Assistance, not assurance
Veterans’ preference provides a fair, uniform method to give consideration to qualified Veterans seeking federal employment. But keep in mind that it does not guarantee a job, and the goal is not to place a Veteran in every vacant federal job.
There are many applicants for VA and other federal jobs, and many ways an agency can fill a vacancy other than by hiring from a list of eligible applicants. But Veterans’ preference, combined with your military experience, can give you an edge when it comes to landing the VA job you want.
Work at VA
Join a team where your experience matters, and where you can help Veterans just like you.