By Peter S. Gaytan
There are three ways veterans can get jobs in the Civil Service: Competitive Appointment, Noncompetitive Appointment Under Special Authority, Merit Promotion Selection under the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA).
Veterans’ preference does not guarantee you a Federal job. Federal agencies can fill vacancies in ways other than from the list of eligibles. They can promote from within, transfer internally, reassign an existing employee, or reinstate a former employee. Veterans’ preference does provide a boost (either five or ten points) to your Civil Service score. You must still:
- - meet the professional requirements of any job for which you apply.
- - score at least 70 on the written examination OR by an evaluation of your experience and education.
If you are entitled to either a five or 10 point preference, it will be added to your numerical rating at the time the score is first issued. The ratings system is used in different ways for different types of jobs.
For Scientific Or Professional Jobs In Grade GS-9 Or Higher The names of everyone eligible are listed in order of their ratings, with the veterans preference augmentation already added. For example, if there were 10 applicants for a GS-9 scientific job, the ratings of all 10 applicants would be given to the supervisor. She would then choose among the top three rated applicants. Unless your veterans’ preference score moved you into one of the top three positions, you would not be among the final three for consideration of the position.
For All Other Positions Those veterans with 10-point preference who have compensable, service-connected disabilities of 10 percent or more, are placed ahead of the names of all other eligibles on a given job register. For those types of jobs, the names would be listed, by numerical rank, in this order: 10-point preference eligibles; 5-point preference eligibles; non-veterans.
Competitive Appointments To land a job being filled by competitive appointment, the veteran must compete with all other applicants (veterans and nonveterans). This is the most common way of entering the Civil Service. Generally you take a Civil Service exam and if you are an eligible veteran, you have an additional 5 or 10 points added to your score, depending on your status.
Here’s the process for filling competitive appointments.
- - The agency that wants to fill a job must report the vacancy to The Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
- - A public announcement of the vacancy is posted and OPM also notifies State employment service offices.
- - Applicants apply for the job and submit either a resume or application.
- - OPM reviews the applicants’ qualifications and ranks them according to job-related criteria.
- - A list of eligible applicants is given to the selecting official of the agency with the vacancy who must then choose from among the top three high-scoring applicants. If you are a veteran, your score has already been increased by your eligibility preference. That may be enough to put you in the top three – but not necessarily.
Noncompetitive Appointment Under Special Authority Agencies have the discretion, under the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA), to skip the red tape and competitive examinations to appoint qualified disabled veterans to jobs. The veteran must be 30 percent or more disabled. This is a rarely utilized benefit.
The advantage of this appointment is that while it’s made originally as an excepted position without the career rights given to employees who have been appointed under the competitive process, after two years of satisfactory service, the VRA-appointed employee is converted to a career-conditional appointment in the competitive Civil Service. Once an employee is designated career or career-conditional they acquire a competitive status automatically. This makes them eligible for other Civil Service positions.
Merit Promotion Selection Under The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act(VEOA) For this type of job, the veteran competes with current Federal employees. The hiring agency can appoint an eligible veteran who has applied under an agency merit promotion announcement that is open to candidates outside the agency. This enables qualified veterans to compete for government positions that may have only been available to current Civil Service employees.
Coming Next Week: Additional Benefits for Job Hunting Veterans
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service to Your Country, The Insider’s Guide to Veterans’ Benefits (Citadel, 2008), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
*Material released with permission of the authors.
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