How to apply to HHS as a veteran

The federal government’s hiring process is very different from the private sector’s hiring process.  When applying for federal jobs, veterans are often eligible to take advantage of special hiring preferences and authorities to secure employment more quickly.

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Nov. 2023 Veterans' Webinar

Veterans’ Preference

Veterans' Preference gives eligible veterans preference in appointment over many other applicants. Veterans' preference applies to all new appointments in the competitive service and many in the excepted service. Veterans' preference does not guarantee veterans a job and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments, and reinstatements.

Veterans' Preference eligibility is based on dates of active duty service, receipt of a campaign badge, Purple Heart, or a service-connected disability.  You must also have been discharged or released from active duty in the armed services under an honorable or general discharge.

Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for veterans’ preference unless they are a disabled veteran.

For more information on veterans’ preference eligibility, visit FedsHireVets.

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans

Veterans Recruitment Appointment allows agencies to make noncompetitive appointments of eligible veterans up to the GS-11 or equivalent grade level. Veterans are hired under excepted appointments to positions that are otherwise in the competitive service. After a veteran satisfactorily completes two years of service, the veteran must be converted noncompetitively to a career or career-conditional appointment.

The 30% or More Disabled Veteran hiring authority allows an agency to noncompetitively appoint any veteran with a 30% or more service-connected disability. This authority is discretionary with the agency.

Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, as Amended (VEOA) allows veterans who substantially completed 3 or more years of active service under honorable conditions and preference eligibles to apply to announcements that would otherwise be open to "status" candidates (current federal employees in the competitive service and certain former employees who earned competitive status.) It doesn’t allow selection ahead of non-preference eligible candidates, and doesn’t apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments, and reinstatements.

  • "Active Service" means active duty in a uniformed service. It includes full-time training duty, annual training duty, full-time National Guard duty, and attendance, while in the active service, at a school designated as a service school by law or by the Secretary concerned.
  • "Preference eligible" under VEOA includes those family members entitled to derived preference.

Schedule A is a special appointing authority that agencies can use to non-competitively appoint individuals, including eligible veterans, who have a severe physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disability. Use of this authority is at the discretion of each agency. For more information on Federal employment for people with disabilities, visit the USAJobs Individuals with Disabilities page.

Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation Program may enroll for training or work experience at an agency under an agreement between the agency and VA.  While in the VA program, the veteran is not a Federal employee for most purposes, but is a beneficiary of the VA.  Training is tailored to the individual's needs and goals, so there is no set length. Training can prepare an individual for eventual appointment in the agency or provide work experience.  On successful completion, the veteran receives a Certificate of Training showing the occupational series and grade level of the position for which trained.  This allows any agency to appoint the veteran noncompetitively under a status quo appointment which may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time.

For additional information on the federal employment process, including veteran hiring authorities, visit FedsHireVets

Visit HHS Careers or USAJobs to find current job opportunities.  Many HHS Operating and Staff Divisions also have their own career page that can be found via HHS.gov.

HHS Panel Discussion: Navigating Federal Employment as a Veteran
November 8, 2023 | Webinar

On November 8, in celebration of Veterans Day and National Veterans and Military Families Month, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration’s Office of Human Resources hosted an informational webinar for veterans and transitioning military service members on navigating federal employment.


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