Many veterans have found that their veteran preference points didn't seem to help them land a federal job. Hopefully the following will help shed veterans understand how their prefernce points work and how they don't work.
The recent push to hire veterans for federal jobs is often hard to put in black and white terms - current directives and policies can be applied in different ways and are often subjective. However, the Veteran Preference Point System is fairly straight forward. Unfortunately, it is only one part of the hiring decision process.
In simple terms, the point system grants 5 or 10 points for veterans based on their dates of service and disability rating, which are added to a veterans passing score on the federal civil service exams. These points are not applied to the final hiring process, they are kind of a foot in the door. From that point on the federal agency doing the hiring is free to determine the best "eligible" candidate.
The Office of Personnel Management website says, "Veterans' preference does not require an agency to use any particular appointment process. Agencies have broad authority under law to hire from any appropriate source of eligibles including special appointing authorities. An agency may consider candidates already in the civil service from an agency-developed merit promotion list or it may reassign a current employee, transfer an employee from another agency, or reinstate a former Federal employee. In addition, agencies are required to give priority to displaced employees before using civil service examinations and similar hiring methods."
Legal speak for they can do pretty much what they want.
Visit the OPM site to read a helpful set of Frequently Asked Questions on Veteran Preference Points.
Understanding the limitations of the system can help vets manage their own expectations and focus on the rest of the application process.