Using Veterans’ Preference to Land a Job After Military Service

What is Veterans Preference

What if you could make your career search as a veteran job finder a bit easier? You can, when you consider the prime advantage you have over your civilian counterparts. You can alleviate some of the stress you experience during your transition back into the civilian workforce with the one benefit that gives you leverage — Veterans’ Preference.

Because there are several questions surrounding the what, when, and how of this benefit, Empire Resume will break down the intricacies of Veterans’ Preference to help you, our fellow veteran, maximize your career opportunities. 

What is Veterans’ Preference?

Veterans’ Preference stems from the federal law known as the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944, which is in Title 5 of the United States Code.

The Act gives special preference to eligible veterans during the hiring process for government jobs, including civilian military jobs. As we mentioned in a previous article, Veterans’ Preference is an important option to consider as a veteran seeking to find a job working for the federal government such as civil service.

Although Veterans’ Preference is a federal law, that mainly applies to the public-sector, the Utah legislature passed a law in 2019, to allow private-sector employers to legally institute preferential hiring policies for veterans, according to the Utah Senate Newsroom webpage.

Additionally, the Utah Senate suggests, “The 2020 General Session will feature a bill clarifying that National Guard, Reserve, and active-duty service members may also receive hiring preferences in the private sector.” The bill is entitled Veterans’ Preference in Private Employment.

Veterans’ Preference gives employment merit to veterans based on a point system. The point system includes factors such as:

  • Type of discharge
  • Rank
  • Type of service
  • Preference Points

However, knowing whether you’re eligible to use this veteran employment benefit is a challenge, as Veterans’ Preference does not apply to all active duty service members. Next, we will explain how to determine whether you can claim Veterans’ Preference based on the four factors above.

How to Determine and Claim Veterans’ Preference

The ability to claim Veterans’ Preference is, first and foremost, based on eligibility. Eligibility for Veterans’ Preference is determined by a set of requirements listed in Section 2018 of Title 5 (5 USC 2108) of the United States Code. In addition to serving on active duty, the requirements you must meet include:

  • Type of discharge

You must have no less than an honorable discharge or a general discharge from your respective U.S. Armed Forces branch.

  • Rank

Retirees with a rank of O-5 and above are ineligible, unless you’re a disabled veteran.

  • Type of Service

Former members of the National Guard and Reserve who are not disabled veterans do not qualify for veteran preference

  • Preference Points and Disability Rating

Because the portion of this article describing preference points is lengthy and connected to disability ratings, we will describe how you can use the preference points to land a job post-military service in the section below.

Preference Points

What is Veterans Preference

According to the Veterans’ Affairs website, the federal hiring process includes three types of preference – 0-Point Preference, 5-Point Preference, and 10-Point Preference. You can claim preference depending upon your unique situation described below.

0-Points Preference: This type of preference applies to you if you were served in the U.S. Armed Forces and was discharged honorably. With 0-Points Preference, you do not get any extra points for the hiring process. You simply get preference for being a veteran.

 To claim this preference, simply submit your Form DD214 during your career search.

5-Points Preference: This type of preference applies to you if you served during the following:

  1. During war; or
  2. For more than 180 days consecutively, other than for training, between September 11, 2001 and August 31, 2010, or the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or
  3. During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992; or
  4. For more than 180 days consecutively, other than for training, occurring after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or
  5. From the time period of April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955; or

In a war, campaign, or expedition for which a campaign medal or badge has been authorized.

To claim a 5-Point Preference, simply submit your Form DD214 to get an extra five points during the hiring process.

10-Points Preference: This type of preference applies to you if you served at any time and:

  1. Have a service-connected disability with more than a 30% rating; or
  2. Received a Purple Heart.

To claim a 10-Point Preference and get an extra ten points during the hiring process, you must submit several documents, including your Form DD214, the Application for 10-Point Veterans’ Preference and a letter from the VA Regional Office stating your disability rating.

Failure to submit the necessary documents during your job search and the hiring process will result in withdrawal of Veterans’ Preference.

How to Claim Veterans’ Preference Prior to Your Military Transition

If you begin searching for jobs with the intent to claim Veteran’s Preference prior to transitioning out of the military, you will not have your DD 214 available. You may believe the absence of your DD-214 will hinder you from applying for positions until you have the document in your possession. This is not the case.

As long as you have your military to civilian resume readily available, there is an option to claim Veterans’ Preference through the Veterans’ Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act. The way to apply for jobs without your DD 214 is to submit a certification, as allowed through the VOW Act.

The certification is any written document that states your expected date of discharge or release from active duty. Keep in mind, the document must state that you’re expected to be released from active duty no later than 120 days after the date of the certificating document.

According to a memo on VOW, by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), government employers must treat active duty members as veterans and preference eligible when they submit a certification.

Additionally, the VA states that you can obtain a Statement of Service through your Military Personnel Office. “The Statement of Service will need to list your dates of military service, character of service, and expected date of separation. If you have been awarded a service-connected disability rating from your branch of military service, include the disability rating in your Statement of Service.”

How Often Can I Claim Veterans’ Preference?

What is Veterans Preference

The use of Veterans’ Preference is limitless no matter you claim it one time, or a hundred times.

The Act does not place a cap on the number of times you can apply for and claim Veterans’ Preference. To see more questions asked by Veterans concerning Veterans’ Preference, take some time to review the VA’s FAQs webpage.

Veterans’ Preference is Not Guaranteed

It is important to note that Veterans’ Preference does not guarantee a job. And, don’t think for one second that you’ll be the only veteran candidate with preference.

You must remember that you’re going up against other veterans, with their own preference points, which can be the same level as yours or more than yours. However, the one way to further separate yourself from your competition is through your resume, your cover letter, and LinkedIn Profile.

With help from our Certified Professional Resume Writers at Empire Resume, based in Utah, you can take the information contained in your military performance evaluations and your military experience, to position yourself as a marketable candidate and show your potential employers why veterans make good employees.

We highly recommend that you don’t forget about your spouse when it comes to career benefits. The private and public sectors give military spouses preference in the hiring process as well. Keep in mind that your spouse will need a well-written resume and cover letter.

If your spouse needs assistance with career services, contact Empire Resume. We’ve helped more than 95% of people get interviews using our professional resume writing services. We’ll be happy to help your spouse get the job they deserve.

Using Veterans’ Preference as a Veteran Entrepreneur

Just in case you decide to use your military skills to become a veteran entrepreneur and operate a veteran-owned business, here’s some information you should know before attempting to use Veterans’ Preference:

Always remember, Veterans’ Preference gives you an edge, but it doesn’t complete the job application process for you. You still need a resume that clearly showcases your skills and you need take the time to prepare for the interview with your potential employer.

The good news is, you don’t have to walk the career search on your own. If you’re considering Veterans’ Preference and need an updated resume, contact Empire Resume for help. 

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force 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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