Veterans' preference: A guide to using it

Obtaining employment into the federal government can be like trying to navigate a very large and complicated maze. For veterans, the process can be even more cumbersome and confusing. Many visit and find difficulty. Veterans’ preference hiring laws give those who served in uniform a leg up on others when pursuing federal-government employment. This means veterans receive either a 5-point or 10-point preference, based on where they served and whether or not they are disabled. A service-connected disability results in a 10-point preference.

To find out if you qualify for a 5-point or 10-point preference, visit FedHiresVets.The Web site lists employment opportunities within the federal government. Most federal positions are posted there. Searches can be conducted by job, agency or even location.

But the process does not end after you see a desirable position and apply for it. What most veterans don’t understand is that there is a non-competitive hiring process for veterans, available to all who are rated 30-percent service-connected disabled or higher.

When applying, you will check a box that identifies you as the one applying for the position; once you apply, the waiting begins. One of the main complaints from veterans has been the amount of time an applicant has to wait before he or she is interviewed and/or hired. The hiring process takes 180 days on average from the time of application until the date of hire.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has identified some ways for the federal government to expedite the wait. One is to eliminate several steps in the hiring process. OPM’s experts say eliminating the “rule of three,” and the “Knowledge, Skills, Assessment” testing will result in a higher percentage of veterans being interviewed and ultimately hired.

In November 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to establish a federal hiring initiative focusing on increasing the number of veterans in the federal government. The initiative targets veterans and transitioning servicemembers, and their spouses and families, who are interested in federal employment.

The American Legion is encouraged by the administration’s focus on hiring veterans. Ultimately, the Legion is looking for the number of veterans working for the federal government to steadily increase.

Indeed, it can be a complicated process. Job seekers will be asked for multiple documents to upload into It could take a month or two before hearing any feedback from the agencies. The American Legion has experts in the federal employment arena who can answers questions or provide assistance in navigating the application process. For more information, click here.