Before you take the plunge and apply for your dream VA job, take a minute to better understand how the application process works. This step-by-step guide reviews the process, from the exploration phase all the way through to hiring.
1. Find your fit at VA
You need a workplace where you feel like you belong. Before you apply, you should first learn about VA and our mission of service to our nation’s heroes. Then, ask yourself if this sounds like the place for you.
What job interests you?
Once you’ve determined if VA is a good culture fit, consider what careers are right for you. If you’re a health care provider, this is probably already clear — but we also employ thousands of administrators, technical staff, and support staff.
Check out our helpful career guidance for more on the different paths to a career at VA.
What can you expect?
Applying to a federal job is not like applying to one in the private sector. We have rules that we must follow, so the process is often longer and can be affected by factors like number of applicants and urgency of hiring. Read more about the application timeline.
2. Search for a job
We post our open jobs, also called job opportunity announcements (JOAs), on USAJobs. This is the career site for the federal government.
When you find a job you’re interested in, be sure to read the entire announcement to make sure you’re eligible and meet the qualifications. Carefully review the “This job is open to” section, as well as “Clarification from the agency” and “Who may apply.” If everything looks good, move on to the “Qualifications” section to see if you meet that criteria.
3. Submit your application
Once you hit apply, USAJOBS will walk you through a 5-step process where you’ll attach a resume and any required documents. Without all required documents, your application could be deemed ineligible and rejected.
Once you’ve put together your application on USAJOBS, you’ll be directed to the VA application system. Here, you’ll submit the application, as well as any other information we need. At any time, you can log in to Application Manager to check on the status of your application.
About the selection process
Once the job announcement closes, your application enters the review stage. The hiring team examines applications for eligibility and classifies qualified candidates as either “minimally qualified” or “highest qualified.”
The highest qualified applicants will be referred to the hiring manager, who will do their own review and begin the next step — interviews. If you’re not selected for an interview, you’ll be notified by email within a few weeks of the JOA closing date.
Applications from Veterans and transitioning military personnel may get a boost through Veterans’ preference, a method that gives consideration to qualified Veterans. Keep in mind that it does not guarantee a job, and the goal is not to place a Veteran in every vacant federal job.
4. Ace your interview
Watch for a phone call inviting you for an interview! They are conducted by phone, video, or in-person, either one-on-one or with a panel, and there may be more than one round of interviews.
VA uses a performance-based interview (PBI) process, which asks applicants to describe what they would have done in a specific situation. We ask you to pull from particular moments in your career when answering. Learn more about how to make the most of your interview.
Do your due diligence
If you take the time to research the position and VA, your effort will show, and you’ll have a chance to shine. Our own Hillary Garcia, a national health care recruitment consultant at VA, offers 10 tips on how to prepare.
5. Get your offer
Congratulations! You applied, aced the interview, and got an offer!
Once you receive a tentative offer, you’ll need to complete a background investigation, other security checks, and new hire forms and documents. Then we’ll extend a final offer and set up a start date.
You’re on your way to a rewarding VA career!