10 tips for landing a Social Work job with VA, Part 1

Laura Taylor, National Director for Social Work, VA


Working with our nation’s Veterans, their families, and caregivers is one of the most coveted opportunities for social workers across the country. In order to successfully compete for a job at the VA, you must be the highest qualified, most professional, and poised applicant within the pool of candidates. Here are tips to consider during your job search.

Resume and Applying for Jobs:

  1. Follow your passion. No matter where you work, volunteer, or train, if you follow your passion, it will be threaded throughout your application and hiring managers will be able to see your calling through the experiences reflected on your resume.
  2. Access www.usajobs.gov and use the search function to set your preferences to allow you to receive job opening notifications on a daily basis. Many VA social work positions are only open for 5-7 days, so if you’ve set the system to alert you weekly you’ll likely miss the announcements or be rushed in getting your materials submitted. In addition, by monitoring usajobs.gov you can see nationwide trends in the type/specialization of positions being posted. The occupational series code for social work is 185 and I suggest that you use this code to aid in narrowing your search.
  3. Consider submitting a resume reflective of you in addition to the one that is created using the resume builder tool through usajobs.gov. You want your name and resume to stand out from the crowd of applicants. While the resume builder tool will ensure you have included all of the required information, the visual presentation for the hiring official may not be the professional image that is most reflective of you as an individual. Make sure your resume pops through visual style/branding, and that it is distinguished by strong writing in your work experience section.
  4. To set yourself up for success, have someone edit the content of your application for typographical errors, run-on sentences, and grammatical mistakes.
  5. If you believe your calling is to work with Veterans, their families, and caregivers, you should strongly consider completing a practicum at the VA! Even though the timing may not work out to hire you on immediately after graduation, having VA trainee experience on your resume will be a huge help to secure VA employment at any point in your career.

For 5 more tips, on Interview and Personal Narrative, see Part 2 of this Blog

Search opportunities on VACareers.va.gov


Darren Sherrard