Claiming Veteran and Military Spouse Preferences for Federal Employment
USAJobs.gov provides civilians and veterans alike with access to federal employment opportunities. Setting up your USAJobs profile correctly and uploading the proper documents is key to moving forward in the federal hiring process.
This article offers advice on navigating the federal hiring process, with a particular focus on non-disabled veterans, disabled veterans, and military spouses, as my clients typically fall into these three categories.
Veteran Preferences for Federal Employment
To show eligibility for veteran preference, non-disabled veterans must have their DD214, or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Non-disabled veterans receive a five-point preference when applying for federal employment.
Disabled veterans are eligible for a 10-point preference when they show proof of eligibility, which includes a DD214 and a completed SF15. I always recommend including a copy of the VA letter showing the disability rating and the date the disability rating was awarded. I recommend scanning the SF15 and the VA letter as one document, so they do not get separated.
Disabled veterans may also apply for Schedule A appointments. If you’d like to be considered for such jobs, be sure to check the box stating you are seeking Schedule A appointments when setting up your USAJobs profile.
Schedule A appointments will require you to get a letter from a licensed medical professional, licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist, or a federal or state agency that issues or provides disability benefits. I have heard from clients it is easiest to get your Schedule A letter while still on active duty. It is also advised that you have the letter typed for your medical provider, so they can easily put it on their letterhead and sign it. You can see some sample Schedule A letters here.
Military Spouse Preferences for Federal Employment
Another category of employment preference is military spouse noncompetitive appointment. This category is available to a military spouse who is relocating with a service member who has PCS orders, a spouse of a 100 percent disabled service member due to a service-connected disability, and a spouse of a service member killed while on active duty.
When a spouse is relocating to a new duty station, the spouse has two years from the date on the PCS orders to seek employment under the military spouse noncompetitive appointment. You will need a copy of the military orders and your marriage certificate to prove eligibility. These documents must be uploaded to USAJobs and attached to your application when applying for employment.
Additionally, a copy of the service member’s DD214 is needed when the spouse is 100 percent disabled due to a service connected-disability, and a DD1300 is needed when reporting a deceased spouse killed on active duty.
Options to Consider When Seeking Federal Employment
When conducting a job search, you will want to look at the various hiring paths available to you. Look for job posts that say “veterans,” “military spouses,” or “special authorities.” You may also want to explore jobs marked “open to the public.”
“Pathways” is a hiring path for students, recent college graduates, and those with advanced degrees. Since many of my clients use the GI Bill and their veteran’s benefits to earn college degrees, this is a hiring path I often explore with them. When applying for jobs in this hiring path, you’ll need to upload your unofficial transcripts to your USAJobs account in addition to your other supporting documents.
Getting hired by the federal government is a labor-intensive process that takes time. Do not expect to be called for an interview immediately after a job closes. The review and selection process can take months. I advise my clients to plan on it taking at least six months from the time of the job closing to the day they start working.
It’s best to start planning for employment after transitioning from the military while you are still on active duty. Get that VA physical. Even a 10 percent disability rating will help you get ahead of others in the hiring process. Complete your Schedule A letter if you know you will be eligible. If you did not complete a VA physical prior to leaving the military, contact your local VA clinic.
Rarely does someone leave the military without a few documented injuries that warrant a disability rating. The 10-point preference may help you get your next interview. Do not let your pride get in the way of claiming veterans’ preference or a Schedule A appointment.
Claiming a preference is not a guarantee you will get an interview or selected for a job, but it can’t hurt. It is one more tool in your job-hunting tool box. Use it.
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.