Applying For Federal Employment
How do I apply for federal employment?
There must be an open vacancy announcement in order for you to apply for a Federal job. Search USAJOBS for open vacancies at NIH and submit all parts of your application with required paperwork by the closing date of the announcement.
A federal application:
- Requires applicants to submit a resume; and
- Often requires completion of an assessment; and
- May require transcripts, and
- Requires documentation for military personnel.
If you are claiming preference, then you must submit the appropriate documentation.
Reference Standard Form 15 (SF-15) for required documentation for 10-point claims. Submission of SF-15 is not required, unless you are claiming derived preference (XP) as described in questions 7, 8, or 9 on the SF-15. In those cases, you must submit a completed SF-15 and the required documentation. For 5 point claims, you must submit your DD-214 (if separated) or any written documentation from the armed forces that certifies you are expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted with your application package.
What is a DD-214?
The Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, Department of Defense Form 214, is issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.
You can obtain a copy of your DD form 214 by initiating a Military Service Record Request.
What is an SF-15?
The Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, Standard Form 15, is used by Federal agencies to verify a claim for 10 point veterans' preference in accordance with the Veterans' Preference Act of 1994. The SF-15 is also used for preference as a military spouse or mother of a veteran who is deceased or unable to work due to a service connected disability. Submission of SF-15 is not required at NIH, unless you are claiming derived preference (XP) as described in questions 7, 8, or 9 on the SF-15.
I served in the armed forces. Can I claim veterans' preference when applying for Federal jobs?
Not all veterans are considered preference eligibles for the purpose of federal civilian employment as defined in Section 2108 of Title 5, USC.
General Requirements and Exclusions:
- Served on active duty in the armed forces during a war, in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, during specified time periods, or you have a service-connected disability or derive preference through a veteran who is unable to use it.
- Received an honorable or general discharge from military service OR you are expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after you apply for a position.
- Retired veterans with rank higher than O-4 are not eligible for preference, unless they are 1) a disabled veteran or 2) reservists who will not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60.
- Active duty for training for National Guard or Reserve soldiers does not qualify as “active duty” for preference, unless the veteran is disabled.
Consult the law Section 2108 of Title 5, USC and the Office of Personnel Management Vet Guide for complete information.
What determines eligibility for veterans’ preference?
The general information provided below is not all inclusive. Refer to the Vet Guide, which is produced by the Office of Personnel Management, for more complete information.
You may be 5-point preference eligible if you served on active duty during a war (armed conflicts declared by Congress as war) or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.
You may be 10-point preference eligible if you:
- Have a present service-connected disability rated at 10% or more; or
- Are receiving disability compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension; or
- Received a Purple Heart; or
- Are the spouse or mother of a veteran who died in service or who is unable to work because of a service-connected disability.
Learn more about veterans’ preference from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.
Special Hiring Authorities For Veterans
What are the special hiring authorities available for veterans?
The special hiring authorities available for veterans are:
- 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority
- Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority
- Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)
Learn more about special hiring authorities for veterans from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.
What is the 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority?
Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more who meet all qualification requirements may be given a noncompetitive term appointment or temporary appointment of 60 days or more. There is no grade level limitation for this authority. The agency may convert the employee, without a break in service, to a career or career-conditional appointment at any time during the employee's term or temporary appointment.
What is the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority?
VRA is a special hiring authority by which agencies may appoint eligible veterans without competition to positions at any grade level below General Schedule (GS) 11 or equivalent. Veterans’ preference takes precedence in these appointments. Those eligible for VRA are:
- Disabled veterans; or
- Veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or
- Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded; or
- Recently separated veterans.
In addition to meeting the criteria above, eligible veterans must have been separated under honorable conditions (i.e., the individual must have received either an honorable or general discharge).
What is the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)?
The VEOA states that agencies must allow eligible veterans to apply to positions announced under merit promotion procedures when the agency is recruiting from outside its own workforce. If selected, the veteran will be given a career or career conditional appointment. Veterans' preference is not a factor in these appointments and there are no demographic area restrictions. Those eligible for VEOA are:
- Veterans’ preference eligible; or
- Separated honorably after 3 or more years of continuous active service.
Special Hiring Authorities For Military Spouses
I am a spouse of a service member. Do I qualify for any special hiring authorities?
You may be eligible for 10-point derived preference or for a non-competitive appointment under Executive Order 134743 if you meet one of the conditions described on our military spouse page.
Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015
An employee hired on or after November 5, 2016, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs is entitled to up to 104 hours of disabled veteran leave for the purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disability.
Useful Links for Veterans
Job Listings For Veterans
- NIH on USAJOBS lists current employment opportunities at NIH (click search without entering text to see all jobs currently available at NIH).
- USAJOBS lists all current federal employment opportunities and has a federal resume builder.
- Transition Assistance Online provide lists of job openings or career recommendations, based on your military job specialty.
- Mil2FedJobs (Military to Federal Jobs Crosswalk) translates military occupations to federal jobs and vice versa. This site is maintained by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR).
- O*net (Occupational Information Network) provides information about many different occupations, including required skills and abilities, typical work activities, and the national average wages. They host military specific information at My Next Move.
- Feds Hire Vets is federal government’s primary source for veteran employment information. It provides in depth information about federal employment. Produced by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
- VetGuide provides information about veterans’ preference and special hiring authorities for veterans. Produced by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
- CareerOneStop has information about transitioning from military to civilian jobs. Sponsored by the US Department of Labor (DOL).
- NIH Federal Resume Tips
- Most Effective Resumes advice from USA Jobs.
- The Federal Resume Guide provides information about USA Jobs, federal employment, and specific guidance on how to create a federal resume with resume samples. Presented by the National Archives and Records Administration.
- Resume Best Practices prepared exclusively for veterans by RecruitMilitary.
- Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment, part of the Real Warriors website. Sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD).
- Military Skills Translator allows you to find civilian terms to describe your military experience. Created by Military.com and Monster. The resources above that translate military occupations to federal jobs can also be useful in helping you to describe your military skills using civilian terminology.
- Military Crosswalk Search provides a list of skills for each Military Occupational Classification. Part of O*net.
- Skills Profiler helps you to create a list of skills and match them to jobs types that use those skills. Part of CareerOneStop.
- What Can I Apply For? NIH provides information to help applicants navigate the federal hiring system. Includes videos about a variety of job fields.
- Transition Assistance Program Manual from the US Department of Labor (DOL).
- US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the central human resources agency for the federal government. This site has information about federal benefits, including retirement benefits, health insurance, and leave.
- Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
- Virginia Department of Veterans Services
- DC Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs