If you’re here, you’re likely wondering how to get a job at the VA; or if a VA job could benefit you. Working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be rewarding for anyone, but especially for people who want to give back to Veterans and their families.
The VA is responsible for four main missions, all of which involve supporting the nation’s Veterans:
- Veteran healthcare
- Veteran benefits
- National cemeteries
- National preparedness for war, emergency, and disaster
So if you’re interested in helping to fulfill these missions — honoring Veterans in both life and death — then keep reading to see how to get a job at the VA.
Jobs at the VA
To get a job at the VA, you have to know what jobs it offers. Contrary to popular belief, the VA doesn’t just hire for healthcare.
Here’s a list of jobs on the VA career page:
- Mental Health
- Allied Health Professionals
- Senior Leadership
- Administrative and Technical Professionals
- Support Services
Veterans are given priority over other candidates when applying for VA jobs. The VA also partners with the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership program to find and recruit military spouses who are well-suited to VA careers.
If you are currently a student, the VA also offers trainee positions that may lead to a full-time position later on.
Take a Look: Common Civilian Jobs for 11B Veterans
Do You Qualify for VA Jobs?
Before you apply for a VA job, you first need to know if you meet its basic requirements. You must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Have graduated from an accredited program (if a degree is required)
- Possess a current full, active and unrestricted professional license from a U.S. state (or D.C.), if the job requires it
- Speak English
In addition to those four basic requirements, you may have to meet more qualifications depending on the position you’re applying for. Based on your experience, you will be designated as “highly qualified,” “basically qualified,” or “not qualified” for any given position.
Applying For VA Jobs
The VA asks that you apply for any jobs online at USAJobs.gov. Here, you can browse for VA positions in your area that fit your area of expertise. You’ll need to create an account on the site to apply for any jobs.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your resume:
- Know how to get yourself noticed. The VA judges your competency for the job based on your Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, or KSAs. Specific KSAs will be included for every position — as “selective factors” or “specialized experience” — so you should know what the VA is looking for. Make sure to address relevant experience for all KSAs in the job listing. Basically: Tailor your resume to the job description.
- Know how to make yourself competitive. It’s not just about drawing attention to your unique qualifications — it’s also the manner in which you do it. The official VA website says it wants you to demonstrate success in the following areas: initiative, innovation, leadership, complexity, scope, and teamwork. Try your best to demonstrate these traits in your resume.
Filling Out the Application
The VA has some specific recommendations on how to make it through the application process. When you’re filling out your VA application, make sure you don’t:
- Copy and paste words from the actual job description
- Attach things the listing doesn’t ask for, such as letters of recommendation or training certificates
However, make sure you do:
- Include church, community, or club work
- Use action verbs and statements
- List your experience in chronological order
- List relevant education, course titles, and how they relate to KSAs
- Include any awards and how they relate to KSAs
Lastly, don’t forget to:
- Fill in every space on the application
- Include addresses for your references
- Write the job number on the application (found at the bottom of the right column)
- Sign and date the last page and the Release of Information Authorization form
- Keep a copy of your application for your own records before submitting
Learning how to get a job at the VA is as simple as taking the time to understand what the job listing wants from you. If you fill out the application in its entirety and make sure you take adequate time to do it, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Interviewing at the VA
If you make it past the initial screening process — which can take a few weeks — then you’ll be invited to interview with the hiring manager. Here are some tips for how to approach the interview:
- Understand the job description — make sure you can address the KSAs in person, too
- Come prepared with questions for the interviewer
- Dress professionally in clothes that fit
- Do your research on the VA, the team you’re interviewing into, and the interviewer, if possible
- Make sure to express how excited you are about the role
How To Get a Job at the VA: Summary
In summary, if you meet VA qualifications, have relevant experience for a VA job, submit a thorough application, and ace your interview, you’ll be welcomed into the VA with open arms. But those are a lot of steps to get right, aren’t they?
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back or if you get passed on for another candidate. Persistence is key — keep applying when the right positions are available. If possible, use LinkedIn or another source to network within the VA and get a reference from someone who actually works there.
If your dream is to work at the VA, don’t give up. There’s no other job quite like helping the Veteran community.