- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

From the Blog: Federal Job Search Tips for Veterans

by Jessie Richardson, Contributing Writer

For many veterans, finding a job in the federal government can be a difficult challenge. But once you master a few basic job search principles, the mysteries of the federal job search will be revealed, along with a job offer.  The first step for veterans in landing a federal job is networking. “Who you know” does make a difference, even for federal and government contractor jobs.

A supervisor in an agency of interest is the ultimate contact and here is why:

  • He/she can tell you when the agency is hiring.
  • He/she can hire you directly, if the supervisor has the authority to do so.
  • He/she can hire you non-competitively if the agency is able to take advantage of the Veteran’s Hiring Programs.

But what if you don’t know a supervisor? First, probe your inner circle (and don't forget to ask those in your veterans group) for its contacts in the federal government and obtain as much information as possible on these prospective sources. Contact them via e-mail to introduce yourself and tell them about your objectives, interests, and veteran status. Establish a writing friendship by asking about their job and agency. Ask them for ideas on career opportunities and who else they might know in their agency or others.

Second, write to or call an HR specialist to ask a question. You might be surprised at how much insight you gain into your resume, upcoming announcements, job fairs, and more.

Finally, never miss an opportunity to go to a job fair. Agencies that attend are serious about meeting you. Go prepared with a “sticky” job fair resume and dress the part.

After networking, reviewing the federal job process should be your

next step in your federal career search. A targeted federal career search is significantly more effective than shots in the dark. Here are a few things to

look into before embarking on your journey:

  • Analyze your qualifications to determine your grade or salary level. Learn how to interpret the pay bands posted on many job announcements. Use your military rank and pay as a guide. The Office of Personnel Management’s Web site ( is a great place to get started.
  • Then determine if you can qualify for a certain job title or series. The Handbook of Occupational Groups and Series can be found at Detailed information about the work performed by a particular job series can be found at Qualification standards can be found at cations.
  • Review the list of government agencies to determine your top 3 to 5 agencies of consideration. A full listing is available at This will allow you tofocus your resume toward a particular mission. With a target job title, grade, and preferred agencies in hand, you will better equipped to apply for jobs online, attend job fairs, and network.

With a target job title, grade, and preferred agencies in hand, you will be better equipped to apply for job s online, attend job fairs, and network.

Jessie Richardson, CPRW, is director of resume services at, the military-to-civilian transition experts. She is a Naval Academy graduate and a regular commentator on job search best practices for military-experienced job seekers. Read more transition advice online at the blog.


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