You’ve probably come across the term “Veterans preference” at some point during your job search. But what does that mean exactly — and how can it help you land a job at VA?
Veterans preference means that, as a Veteran, you may move ahead of non-Veterans in the federal hiring process. Veterans who qualify for disability receive greater preference.
“Approximately 40% of our employees hold Veteran status, so we’re really proud of that fact and we encourage Veterans to apply,” said Dave Aragon, VA recruitment consultant, in a video on applying to VA.
However, Veterans preference is not a guarantee you’ll be hired. There are other groups — like military spouses and returning Peace Corps volunteers — who also receive preference for federal jobs. In addition, some jobs are open only to current federal employees.
Getting in the door
Because there are so many applicants – including other Veterans, for VA jobs – make sure you apply for jobs that are the best match for your skills.
“There are millions of Veterans in the U.S. and many of them want to work at VA, so there is a lot of competition for these jobs. You have the best chance of success if you apply for a job for which you are highly qualified,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of VA recruitment marketing.
If most or all of your work experience is in the military, you may not feel you are highly qualified right out of the gate.
“One difficult thing for Veterans is to convert valuable military skills into those valued in the private sector as well,” Sherrard wrote in a blog post. “I encourage everyone to take the same winning steps and attitude that made us successful as warriors and apply them into our daily lives and our job searches.”
With a combination of a military health background and Veterans preference, there are a number of positions at VA for which you could meet the requirements straight out of the military.
Learn about these civilian careers — like intermediate care technicians (ICTs) or nursing assistants — through our Transitioning Military Personnel initiative. This program connects former service members with civilian careers at VA, the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.
But what if you don’t have military health experience? Consider applying for support service positions, such as housekeeper, transportation clerk or engineering technician. Veterans preference commonly gives you a boost in applying for one of these jobs.
Continue your education
Once you’re in the door, we’ll help you acquire the skills and training that you need to grow in any direction you want.
We offer several scholarships that can help you begin or continue your health care education without piling up debt, as well as the VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) that pays your full salary and up to $40,117 toward the cost of higher education.
Some VA medical centers pay for courses from nearby colleges and universities, while the VA Talent Management System provides access to thousands of online courses, learning activities and training. Mentoring and on-the-job training are also baked into our DNA.
Work at VA
Interested in a future helping your fellow Veterans? Use your Veteran status to secure a VA career.