11 Tips To Get a Federal Job After Your Military Service

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 23, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many service members who leave the military often find jobs in federal roles. Looking for open positions in federal and government agencies can be beneficial, as many federal employers consider military experience an important indicator of motivation and commitment to succeed. If you're considering a federal job after your military service, there are several approaches you can take to apply to and secure a job role. In this article, we explore several helpful tips to get a federal job after the military.

11 tips to get a federal job after the military

Consider the following approaches to researching federal jobs, communicating with professionals and applying to open roles when looking for a job after your military service:

1. Research federal jobs

Start your civilian career transition by researching the types of jobs that relate to your experience, training and military duties. For instance, combat duties can often translate into roles that require leadership, conflict resolution, strategic planning and problem solving. Researching roles that reflect the type of responsibilities you had in the military can help you find opportunities where your unique qualifications fulfill the job requirements.

2. Use federal job boards

There are a few federal job boards that veterans can use to find roles where their skills, experience and qualifications are in demand. For example, the USAJOBS government website provides resources for veterans to complete and submit resumes, look for open jobs and speak with career coaches specializing in veteran job placements. Some sites like USA.gov may require you to complete a questionnaire, where you answer specific questions about your skills and military duties. These questionnaires can then help you narrow your job search down to positions that require your skill set.

Related: Military to Civilian Title Translations To Improve Your Resume

3. Review your accomplishments

Take note of the accomplishments or awards you earned while serving in the military. These achievements can show federal employers your motivation to succeed and your initiative to take action. For instance, rank promotions or service medals are some of the accomplishments you can highlight when submitting applications to open positions.

4. Network with professionals

Consider colleagues, acquaintances and friends who may know professionals working in federal jobs. Finding and speaking with professionals who work in the government or federal sector can help you research opportunities more effectively. For example, you can request informational interviews to learn more about the agency and roles you have interest in pursuing. You may also find additional information about upcoming job openings through networking.

5. Create a federal resume

Update your resume using a federal resume format. This format typically outlines three to four pages for resumes and serves as the entire application for federal jobs. In a federal resume, the first two pages often include your military experience, qualifications, achievements and specialized skills. The following one to two pages often include the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) essay and any letters of recommendation.

Related: How To Write a Military-to-Civilian Resume (With Template and Example)

6. Consider veterans' agencies

There are also many job opportunities with veterans' agencies in addition to federal jobs. For instance, the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Social Security Administration are two federal agencies that veterans often rely on for beneficiary and financial services that often hire former military service members. You can also consider local or state government agencies that hire based on veterans' and military preferences, giving you more opportunities outside of the federal career sector.

7. Use veterans' preference

Veterans' preference is a status that many government agencies give to service members with prior military experience. This status supports veterans and military spouses during the job search, as employers consider the applications of retired and veteran service members prior to reviewing civilians' resumes. This preference may not always guarantee a job, but it can help you gain employers' attention and increase your chances of interviewing for the jobs to which you apply if you're a military veteran.

8. Look for jobs in your sector

Consider roles that are related to the duties you were responsible for during your military service. For instance, combat or rifleman can translate to jobs in security, defense or law enforcement. Researching different roles that pertain to the work you are used to performing can help you further narrow your search to jobs you're qualified for and interest you. Another approach to finding jobs that relate to your sector is to use the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) classification standards, which can show you the types of jobs that your unique skills can fulfill.

Related: How To Apply for Government Jobs

9. Translate your skills

Although your military experience reflects unique skills and qualities, there are many jobs to which these skills can translate. Consider transferable skills like leadership, communication, teamwork, interpersonal and conflict-resolution skills. These traits are often crucial for civilian roles, too. It's also important to consider the specific skills and qualifications employers include in the job postings you research, as these key traits can give you a better understanding of what employers are looking for so you can highlight these qualifications on your resume.

10. Look for required KSAs

While the federal jobs board has eliminated the KSA requirements for most application processes, many job postings may still include them as part of your application requirements. Be sure to review the job postings you're considering carefully to ensure you include all relevant KSAs the employer requires. For instance, if a job posting includes KSAs for foreign language and technical communications, be sure you highlight your relevant experience in your application packet.

Related: 12 Military Skills To Put on a Resume for Any Job

11. Write your essay questionnaire

Even though the KSAs may not be requirements for all job boards, many federal employers may still require you to write a short essay. This essay provides human resources, recruiters and federal employers with the information they need to determine whether your qualifications fulfill the job requirements. Typically, the essay portion of your application is about two to three paragraphs long and should include specific examples of your accomplishments and experience. Employers also use this essay to assess your written communication skills and knowledge of the subject matter that you write about in your essay.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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