If thinking about getting out of the military, or you are already out and ready to enter the civilian workplace, here are two things you should be aware of that can make it easier to find the job you want.

Veteran’s Preference

Veteran’s preference is a preferential hiring treatment that can give you a “leg-up” when looking at getting hired. Being able to claim the preference can move you up higher on the hiring list than other non-veteran applicants. Generally speaking, to be eligible, at least the first three (and at least one of the others) must apply:

  • Have been under the rank of O4 (Major or equivalent)
  • Been discharged under honorable conditions
  • Have served during one of the eligible time periods
  • Have earned a campaign badge or
  • Have been awarded a Purple Heart or
  • Have a service-connected disability – applies to all ranks

And veteran’s preference where applicable usually only applies during the initial hire or in time of Reduction-In-Force (RIF), and does not play a factor in other personnel actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments or reinstatements.

Where is veteran’s preference applicable

Many of the agencies within the federal government (although not all) honor veteran’s preference. This can mean either an additional 5 or 10 points depending on the level of eligibility added to the veteran’s score if they meet the requirements of veteran’s preference.

Even businesses doing business with the federal government, as can be the case with certain government contractors – defense and others, are bound by contract to advertise jobs where veterans will see them, actively recruit veterans and report back to the government what actions they have taken to employ veterans. They may or may not offer veteran’s preference depending on the company.

Veteran’s preference has even filtered down to many of the states in their hiring practices. Roughly half of the 50 states now have laws in place that allow employers to give eligible veterans preference when hiring into open job positions.

Veteran-friendly States

Other states might not offer veteran’s preference but are more veteran-friendly than others. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found 27% of veterans have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life. Another survey found these Top 10 states make transition easier than other states by going out of their way to help veterans:

  1. Alaska
  2. South Dakota
  3. Wyoming
  4. Nebraska
  5. North Dakota
  6. Maine
  7. Montana
  8. South Carolina
  9. Virginia
  10. Alabama


Being able to claim a veteran’s preference does not guarantee getting a certain position. While it does give a veteran an advantage, it does have limitations. For example, if an employer wants to hire a veteran, but other more qualified individuals in one or more of the protected categories (age, gender, race, etc.) have also applied, it would be discriminatory to hire the less-qualified veteran and in violation of certain anti-discrimination laws.

Veterans can use these two tips to their advantage when seeking employment. Knowing this information can give them an inside track to getting a job and thus make what can be a difficult transition process easier.

Related News

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.