Did you serve in the military? Are you currently looking for a civilian job now that your service is over? The federal government hires many veterans for agency jobs. It recognizes the sacrifices veterans make in serving their country.
As a veteran, you're entitled to benefit from certain employment programs that'll help you find a job with the government. Two of the most important programs are the veterans' preference system and the Veterans Recruitment Act (VRA).
Veterans' Preference System
The veterans' preference system helps vets get a head start when applying for certain federal jobs. It's managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The preference system doesn't guarantee a job. The veteran will just receive a slight advantage over a nonveteran applying for the same job.
Receiving a preference isn't automatic; you must qualify. There are two classes of preference: five-point preference and ten-point preference. Depending on your preference class, five or ten points are added to your civil service examination score.
Five-point preference will be given to you if:
- You served on active duty during certain time periods, including wartime
- You're given an honorable or general discharge
Ten-point preference will be given to you if you're given an honorable or general discharge, and you're one of the following:
- A veteran with a service-related disability
- A Purple Heart medal recipient
The ten-point preference isn't limited to veterans. Three other people can also qualify for the preference:
- The spouse of a veteran who can't work due to a service-related disability
- The unmarried widow of a veteran who died in service or from a service-related disability
- The mother of a veteran who died in service or who's permanently and totally disabled
If you decide to apply for a federal government job, a great tool to use is the Employment Information System. It's available on the internet and contains a variety of employment information. You can apply for many jobs directly from the web site. Some of the information that can be found on the web site include:
- Job vacancies
- Employment fact sheets
- Job applications
- Resume development
Veterans Recruitment Act (VRA)
The Veterans Recruitment Act (VRA) allows a federal agency to hire an eligible veteran to any job he's qualified to perform. The veteran doesn't have to compete with anyone for the job. This special appointment authority allows agencies to noncompetitively hire veterans.
Not every veteran is eligible for a VRA appointment. You qualify if you:
- Are a disabled veteran
- Served on active duty during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized
- Participated on active duty in a military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded
- Recently separated from active duty service within the last three years
A VRA appointment can only be made for a job position that would otherwise be a competitive appointment. This means a job in which people compete with others to get the job. If there are more than two veterans eligible for a VRA appointment, the agency has to apply preference points to decide who to hire.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Do I always have veteran preference, or is status limited to a set time period?
- Can my spouse be eligible for job preference if she needs to work because of a disability I received in the military?
- How do I let a federal agency know that I am eligible for a VRA appointment?