If you are a Veteran you have a couple of different tools that can give you an edge in getting a civil service (Federal) job: the Preference Points and Veteran's Recruitment Appointment rule. The following is a summary of these tools and how they can help:
By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over non veterans both in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and in retention during reductions in force.
The goal of the Veteran's Preference is not to the place a veteran in every vacant Federal job. However, preference does provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking Federal employment.
Preference applies in hiring from civil service examinations, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies make temporary appointments or use direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.
To be entitled to preference, a veteran must meet the eligibility requirements in section 2108 of title 5, United States Code. This means that:
Five points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a veteran who served:
A campaign medal holder or Gulf War veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty) must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligibles separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.
Ten points are added to the passing examination score of:
If you meet the criteria for preference and achieve a score of 70 or higher either by a written examination or an evaluation of your experience and education, you will have 5 or 10 points added to your numerical ratings depending on the nature of their preference.
For scientific and professional positions in grade GS-9 or higher, names of all eligibles are listed in order of ratings, augmented by veteran preference, if any. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference eligibles who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligibles on a given register. The names of other 10-point preference eligibles, 5-point preference eligibles, and non-veterans are listed in order of their numerical ratings.
Entitlement to veterans' preference does not guarantee a job. There are many ways an agency can fill a vacancy other than by appointment from a list of eligibles.
A 10-point preference eligible may file an application at any time for any positions for which a non-temporary appointment has been made from a competitive list of eligibles within the past 3 years.
In addition, a person who is unable to file for an open competitive examination because of military service may file after the closing date. In either of the above situations, the veteran should contact the agency that announced the position for further information.
In addition certain examinations are open only to preference eligibles as long as such applicants are available. These are custodian, guard, elevator operator and messenger.
Under the VRA, a you can be appointed to a white-collar position through GS 11 without having to compete with other applicants.
The VRA is open to you if you are a disabled veteran who served on active duty during a war or major campaign and you have left the service under honorable conditions within three years.