Veterans may be entitled to receive preference over non-veterans when being considered for federal jobs, which are coveted because of the good pay, health insurance, job security, and retirement benefits. The veteran preference system doesn't guarantee you a federal job, but it does ensure that your application will be given special consideration.
Veterans must generally have served during a period of war to qualify for preference for federal jobs, and must have been discharged under honorable conditions. This means you must have either a general or an honorable discharge. Military retirees with a rank of major or above are ineligible unless they are disabled and eligible to receive VA disability compensation or pension.
One of two preference categories will be available to you depending upon your eligibility, a 5-point preference or a 10-point preference. Criteria for each category are described below.
You served during a period of war if you served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or:
A 10-point preference is awarded for veterans who served at any time who have:
After you have determined your preference category, the next step is to understand which preference group you are in.
There are four preference groups, as follows:
You can use the online Veterans Preference Advisor to figure out which preference group you belong to.
The preference group you are in determines how much priority you will be given as a candidate for a federal job or appointment. Some agencies using a ranking system to determine which candidate to hire; they assign points based on how qualified they find an applicant to be and then hire the candidate who has the highest number of points. When you apply for a job with these agencies, they add the applicable number of veterans' preference points (5 or 10) to your candidacy after ranking you based on your qualifications for the position.
Other agencies don't use a ranking system. When you apply for positions with these agencies, you will be given highest priority if you have a service-connected disability rated at 10% or higher. This will be true unless you are applying for a job at the GS-9 level or higher. Veterans with a disability rating of less than 10%, as well as non-disabled veterans, are placed in the next highest preference group.
Start by reading on the FedsHireVets website on how federal jobs are filled. You can then search for federal jobs and apply for them using USAJOBS. USAJOBS provides resources for veterans on their website. You can either submit a resume or use the application process available online at USAJOBS. There used to be a federal employment application you could print and complete, but it has been discontinued.
A wife or husband, surviving spouse, or mother of a veteran is also entitled to preference in federal hiring, based on the veteran’s level of preference, and must follow the same application procedures as the veteran, described below.
Make sure to claim your right to preference on your job application. If you are claiming a 10-point preference, you must complete an Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at:
1900 E St NW, Washington, DC 20240
Phone: (202) 606-1800
Whether you are claiming 5 or 10 points, you will need to have your discharge papers, typically a DD-214, to prove your time of service (when applicable) and that you have a qualifying discharge. Submit your DD-214 with your job application, or if you are claiming 10 points, attach it to your Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.
If you believe you were entitled to be given preference for a federal job and did not receive it, you have the right to file a complaint. The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 provides that you may file a complaint with the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor. You may file a complaint online.
Preference applies to initial job applications or appointments only. Decisions about promotions and other personnel matters after hiring are based on merit, not veteran status.
Many states also give veterans preference for state jobs. Check to see if your state provides preference by selecting your state on the Military.com state benefits website.