How to Get a Job with the Department of Veterans Affairs

how to get a job with the va

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the second largest agency in the federal government after the Department of Defense.

The VA comprises three offices, including:

  • Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), which is responsible administering VA’s five key non-medical benefits, including home loans, life insurance, education, pensions, and vocational training.
  • Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA), which consists of 171 medical centers and 1,400 outpatient centers and living facilities that provide care to more than 9 million veterans each year.
  • National Cemetery Administration (NCA) which maintains 155 national cemeteries that contain more than 5 million graves for veterans of the Revolutionary War up to and including more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VA maintains a strong commitment to hiring and retaining veterans. With approximately 400,000 employees including 120,000 veteran employees, VA has a reputation for being one of the most veteran-friendly employers in the United States.

If you’re a veteran jobseeker, then we recommend that look for opportunities at VA.

6 Steps to Getting a Job at The Department of Veterans Affairs

how to get a job with the va

Applying for a job at the VA (or any job with the federal government) is a bit more complex than applying for a private-sector job.

It’s important to follow the steps below when applying for a job at the VA to increase your chances of landing an interview.

1. Create a stellar resume

Before you start your job search, you should create a strong resume. If you’re a military veteran or separating servicemember, then contact Empire Resume. We specialize in creating military to civilian resumes that will highlight your experience, achievements, and education and capture the attention of employers.

2. Learn about the VA culture

Those who work at the VA are committed to making life better for each of the 9 million veterans the department serves. Each employee adheres to the ICARE philosophy. If you align with that philosophy, then you’re the type of person VA would like to potentially hire.

3. Create a USAJOBS account

USAJOBS is the government’s official employment site. The purpose of the site is to easily connect jobseekers to federal employment opportunities. If you want to search for a job at VA, then you must have a USAJOBS account.

Follow these steps to create your USAJOBS profile. It takes a bit of time to set up your profile, but once it’s complete, you’ll be able to easily apply to jobs at VA or any other federal office or agency.

4. Conduct a job search

how to get a job with the va

Now that you’ve got a resume and your USAJOBS Account, it’s time to start searching for open roles within VA. You can begin your search on their careers page.

Start with a general search or narrow your focus to a specific job category such as social work, leadership, dentistry, administration, nursing, and others.

VA also has a careers page just for Veterans and transitioning military members. Veterans and separating service members are often given preference for jobs listed on that page.

5. Read job descriptions carefully

VA’s job descriptions are often detailed. Read the descriptions carefully to ensure you meet every requirement including education and work experience. Once you’ve found a position that interests you, click apply to be taken through the job application process.

Here’s an important tip to remember: Don’t apply unless you meet all requirements listed.

In the private sector, it’s common for jobseekers to apply for jobs even if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements or qualifications that appear in the job description. However, that’s not the case when applying for jobs at the VA or other government entity.

If you fail to meet any of the qualifications, you won’t be considered for the job. What’s more, if you make a habit of applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for, then you run the risk of being temporarily or permanently banned from applying for government jobs.

6. Take advantage of jobs programs for veterans

how to get a job with the va

Veterans can take advantage of programs that provide pathways to employment with the VA.

One such program is Veterans’ Preference, which provides a fair, uniform method to give qualified veterans consideration when seeking employment with VA or any other federal entity. In this system, qualified candidates who have a service-connected disability may be placed at the top of the list of considered candidates.

However, keep in mind that not every job is eligible for Veterans’ Preference. USAJOBS places a white shield logo next to jobs that are Veterans’ Preference eligible.

Another program veteran jobseekers should look into is The Veteran and Military Spouse Talent Engagement Program (VMSTEP). VMSTEP provides employment assistance to separating servicemembers, veterans, and military spouses. Jobseekers can access career-coaching, job fairs, hiring events, in-person and virtual workshops and other resources.

Finally, you can check out Veterans Employment Services for even more resources to assist with your job search or opening your own business.

These are all excellent resources that are meant to help veteran jobseekers find employment.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Has Job Opportunities

how to get a job with the va

If you’ve got a passion for improving the lives of veterans, then a job at the Department of Veterans Affairs may be right for you. Follow the steps provided to increase your chances at landing a job at the second largest employer in the government.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Empire Resume for assistance at any time during your job search. We have affordable packages that include resumes, cover letters, follow-up letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Plus, we offer military veterans a discount on all services.

Please contact us at 801-690-4085 or info@empireresume.com.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance. 

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