Tips for Veterans

Tips for Veterans

Ready to make an impact?  Click here to get startedThe skills and training veterans acquired while serving the country may be well suited for jobs at the Department. The following information is designed to help veterans understand how federal jobs are filled, determine Veterans Preference, build a resume, search and apply for federal jobs.

How Federal Jobs Are Filled

In order for veterans to compete effectively for federal jobs, it is important to understand how federal jobs are filled. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has established occupational groups and series that are used to classify the work of positions. This classification is made in terms of the kind or subject matter of the work, the level of difficulty and responsibility, and the qualification requirements of the work. The classification is made to ensure similar treatment for positions within a class in personnel and pay administration.

Determining Veterans Preference

Special consideration is given to qualified veterans, known as Veterans’ Preference. Not all veterans are entitled to it. Typically, veterans must have served on active duty for at least two years during a period of war, be disabled, or meet other criteria. Veterans Preference does not guarantee a job.

Under Derived Preference, certain eligible spouses, widows/widowers or mothers of a veteran may be able to claim Veterans Preference when the veteran is unable. Agencies may also appoint a military spouse without competition under the Military Spouse Appointing Authority.

There are also a number of special hiring preferences, such as Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA), 30% or More Disabled Veteran, and the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA).

  • If you qualify as a 30% or More Disabled Veteran, you are able to submit an application package directly to the Human Resource Offices for any open, recently closed or unposted position for which you qualify. Your application will be kept on file until it is considered for a position, or up to three years, whichever comes first. This is not a guarantee of employment; you are strongly encouraged to use USAJOBS to search for opportunities throughout DHS.
  • If you need assistance compiling your application package, refer to the contact section at the bottom of this page.

The Veterans’ Preference Advisor is a tool that assists veterans in determining Veterans Preference eligibility through a series of questions. Veterans should note their preference points for use in the application process.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an excepted service agency.  As a result, TSA is not governed by most of the policies and procedures established under Title 5 by the Office of Personnel Management. In addition, certain requirements and qualifications for some of TSA’s mission-critical positions such as Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and Federal Air Marshals are based in statute and may not be adapted.

Building a Federal Resume

Federal resumes are vastly different from those found in the private sector and should include as many pages as necessary to detail skills, education, training and experience. Federal resumes should be tailored in order to address specific job requirements.

Before creating a federal resume, veterans should obtain a copy of their Verification of Military Experience and Training form (DD Form 2586). This document contains education and training data on skills acquired while serving on active duty. In addition, there is a Military Skills Translator Tool that translates military experience into civilian experience. Both of these will greatly assist veterans in creating a federal resume.

See Tips for Writing a Federal Resume for additional guidance on building your resume.

Searching for a Federal Job

All federal jobs are posted on USAJOBS. Use the advanced search options on USAJOBS to further expand or refine your search for homeland security careers. To view all jobs open to veterans, select “Yes” under “Applicant Eligibility” at the bottom of the search screen.

There are thousands of jobs and opportunities at the Department of Homeland Security. See which specific occupations you may want to apply for based on your academic major or work experience.

Applying for a Federal Job

Once a veteran has identified the job(s) they would like to apply for, they should click on the job, review the duties and qualification requirements, and note any specialized experience that may be required. If qualified for the job, the veteran should click “Apply Online.” During the application process, veterans may be asked to identify Veterans Preference status. Refer to the Determining Veterans Preference section above.

Apply and upload all required supporting documentation. Note: failure to upload all required documentation may result in your application being denied.

Next Steps

Once a job closes, applications are reviewed. Those applicants who are determined “best qualified” are referred to the hiring official for possible interviews. If selected, applicant will receive a tentative job offer pending any security clearance requirements. Upon acceptance of clearance, a final job offer will be made.

Disability Accommodations

The Department of Homeland Security provides reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities, as long as you meet the job qualifications. Some of the accommodations provided include:

  • TTYs for use with telephones
  • Hardware and software that make computers accessible if you have vision impairments or difficulty using your hands
  • Sign language interpreters or readers
  • Training and other written materials in an alternative formats (e.g., Braille, audio tape, computer disk)
  • Physical changes, such as installing a ramp or modifying a workspace

The Department’s Selective Placement Program Coordinators can assist in helping to recruit, hire and accommodate veterans with disabilities.

The Department of Homeland Security is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


The VEPO can assist with veterans employment inquiries regarding:

  • Searching on USAJOBS
  • Finding appropriate job opportunities within DHS

Submit your questions to or call 202-357-8620. Please do not send your DD214 or similar documents.

For DHS Component-specific information, contact the following:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Federal Emergency Management Agency


Federal Law Enforcement Training Center


DHS Headquarters Mission Support


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement


National Protection & Programs Directorate


Transportation Security Administration


U.S. Coast Guard


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


U.S. Secret Service



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