Searching & Applying for a Federal Job

Searching & Applying for a Federal Job

The following information is designed to help veterans understand how Federal jobs are filled, determine Veterans Preference, build a resume, and 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 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.

    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.

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

    Searching for a Federal Job

    All DHS jobs are posted on USAJOBS and must be applied for online. Use the right navigation window and select all options that apply to you in the Hiring Path section. At a minimum, all veterans should select the options, "Open to the Public" and "Veterans." If you are entitled to Veterans' Preference, then you should also select the options, "Competitive Service" and "Excepted Service." Note: If you do not have veterans' preference, search by selecting the "Open to the Public" selection box only.

    There are many 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. Also, to help you determine what Federal positions you may qualify for based on your military experience, please use the Military to Federal Jobs Crosswalk, which will allow you to cross reference Federal positions related to your military specialty.

    Applying for a Federal Job

    Once a veteran has identified the job(s) s/he would like to apply for, s/he should click on the job, review the duties and qualification requirements, and note any specialized experience that may be required. If you are qualified for the job, 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.

    Visit our How to Apply page to learn more.

    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, applicants will receive a tentative job offer pending any security clearance requirements. Upon acceptance of clearance, a final job offer will be made.

    Reasonable 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:

    • Video Relay Services
    • Assistive technology (e.g., screen readers, speech to text, magnification software)
    • Sign language interpreters or captioning and transcription services
    • Qualified Readers and orientation and mobility services
    • Written materials in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print)
    • Modifying existing facilities to make them accessible (e.g., ramp installation, accessible door hardware installation, door and/or workspace widening)

    The Department’s Selective Placement Program Coordinators can assist in the recruitment, hiring and reasonable accommodations for veterans with disabilities.

    The Department of Homeland Security is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


    The Department of Homeland Security's Component Veteran Employment Program Managers can assist with veterans employment inquiries regarding:

    • Searching on USAJOBS
    • Finding appropriate job opportunities within DHS Components

    Please submit your questions directly to the respective DHS Component Veteran Employment Program Manager in which you are interested. Please do not email any personal identifiable information such as your DD214, Disability Letter or similar documents.

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