By Barbara A. Adams, CPRW, CEIP, CFRWC
The federal government is hiring. With tens of thousands of jobs currently posted, in all levels of positions, and millions of employees, the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. In addition, during the next few years, over half of the current workforce will be eligible for retirement. This means there will be many openings to be filled in the future – and many opportunities to advance to more senior level positions as the workforce retires. In addition, governmental jobs offer job security not provided by positions in the private sector.
Currently, the government is seeking personnel with training and experience in virtually every discipline, with an emphasis on homeland security, including security, intelligence, IT, telecommunications, logistics and health care. In addition, many of the positions require security clearance. The skills gained in the military are directly transferable to many federal jobs.
In the federal government, Veterans are valued, with some federal jobs similar to work performed by members of the military. With the current shortage of military personnel, some jobs previously performed by military personnel are now being performed by the civilian workforce. For these positions, along with others, including positions in the civilian military workforce, homeland security, FBI and CIA, military skills are directly transferable. Also, certifications gained in the military – including contracting certifications and top secret clearance, are sought after by federal agencies. The training received while in the military is recognized as important for these agencies – whereas it might not be recognized as important in the private sector.
In the civilian workforce, many middle and senior-level positions require candidates to have degrees. For the federal government, experience can often substitute for the degree. With experience in the military, Veterans without a degree can often obtain a higher level position in the federal government than in the private sector workforce.
In addition, candidates with active duty United States military service and separated under honorable conditions will likely be eligible for a Veteran’s Preference when applying for a federal job. This preference can help a Veteran to be selected for a given federal job over non-Veterans, as outlined below.
Since the Civil War, Veterans have been given preference in appointments to federal jobs, with Congress recognizing the sacrifices made by persons serving in the armed forces. These laws provide preference for Veterans who are disabled or served in active duty during specified time periods or military campaigns over non-Veterans both in hiring and in retention during reductions in force. Preference alone will not place a Veteran in every federal job, nor will it apply to promotions or other in-service actions.
Generally, for a Veteran to obtain preference, a Veteran must have an honorable or general discharge. If a Veteran retired at the rank of major / lieutenant commander or higher – and is not disabled – the Veteran is not eligible for preference. Note that guard and reserve active duty for training does not qualify for preference. For Veteran’s preference to be considered, it must be indicated when applying for the federal job.
Veterans may be eligible to have 5 points or 10 points added to their application score when applying for a federal job. If a Veteran served during specific periods of conflict in the armed forces, including 1941 to 1955, 180 consecutive days from 1955 to 1976, during the Gulf War from 1990 to 1992 or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia, Bosnia and the Global War on Terrorism, they are eligible for a 5 point preference. For Veterans who are not disabled, in addition to service, medal holders or Gulf War Veterans who joined after a specific date must have served for 24 months or the full amount of time required for Active Duty to be eligible for the 5 point preference.
A Veteran who has a service connected disability, received a Purple Heart or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits or a pension from the military or the Department of Veteran Affairs may qualify for a 10 point preference. Others may claim this preference, including unmarried spouses of deceased Veterans, spouses of Veterans unable to work because of a service-connected disability or mothers of Veterans who died in service or who are permanently and totally disabled. To obtain the 10 point preference, if eligible, a Veteran must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, available online at SF15.PDF.
In addition to point preferences, there are other preferences available for Veterans applying for federal jobs. These include Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA), which gives federal agencies discretionary authority to hire Veterans who meet the basic requirements for the position without competition. A Veteran who separated from active duty in the past 3 years AND is disabled, served on active duty during a war declared by Congress, participated while on active duty in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized OR while on active duty participated in a military operations for which the Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded is eligible for a VRA appointment. VRA authority applies to white collar positions through the GS-11 level.
In addition, federal agencies give noncompetitive appointments to any Veteran who has a service-connected disability of 30% or more. Like the VRA, this authority is discretionary with the agency.
A Veteran’s status also can help in finding a federal job. Many job announcements in the federal government require applicants to have status – and if an applicant does not have status, they are not eligible to apply. Applicants who have served 3 years active duty in the military in the last 10 years most likely have status – according to the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA). This is not just limited to personnel separating or retiring lower than the rank of major/lieutenant commander – it applies to all military personnel. This allows Veterans to apply to positions not open to the general public – which is many of the positions posted for federal government jobs.
Barbara A. Adams is the President & CEO of www.CareerProPlus.com. Barbara has been a member of the careers community for 16 years and serves as an Industry Expert for Military Transition and Federal Government Resumes. She holds three certifications; Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW); Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP); and Certified Federal Resume Writer and Coach (CFRWC).