Veteran's Preference

Federal government jobs offer preference in some capacity to veterans as a way to negate the disadvantage they are at for the time “lost” to gain experience during their service.  For this same reason, they are also given a degree of preference as far as job retention when cutbacks need to be made.  To obtain a job in Civil Service you must search and apply like any other individual seeking employment. There are sites dedicated to Federal government jobs such as USAJOBS found at  This the official site for the Federal governments job openings.  You could also use CareerOneStop which is part of the Department of Labor found at  This site not only list Federal jobs but state and private sector listings as well.  Even though veteran’s preference helps in being hired and retaining a job, it will not help with promotions, raise, performance reviews and the like.  Those veterans eligible for preference in Civil Service careers must meet the following criteria:

    • You must have an honorable or general discharge status.
  • Your military rank must be below that of major, lieutenant commander (or higher) unless deemed disabled.
  • Your military service must have consisted of more than Reserve or Guard active duty for training purposes.
  • You must claim preference on your application or resume when applying for Federal jobs.  For those veterans claiming a 10-point preference, SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference must be completed. 


Preference Points

Serving during one of the following periods qualifies you for an addition five-point preference:

  • December 7, 1941 to July 1, 1955, OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976, OR
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992, OR
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia and Bosnia
  • On active duty for a period of more than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom as declared by Presidential Proclamation or by law.

An additional 10 points will be added to your examination score for those veterans meeting the following requirements and completed the SF-15 Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference:

  • You are a veteran, serving at any time, with a present service-connected disability OR is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits OR pension from the military or Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • You received the Purple Heart medal.
  • You are the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran who either served during a war or during the period of April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized; or died while on active duty that included service described as under conditions that would not have been the basis for other than an honorable or general discharge, OR the spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability. 
  • You are the parent of a veteran who died in service OR who is permanently or totally disabled.

The Rule of Three

This is a special selection process used by Federal and state agencies in the hiring of new employees. When an individual applies for a Civil Service job they must take the Civil Service exam and they are ranked based on these scores and experience.  The rule of three refers to the three applicants with the highest scores being the ones eligible for hire for that particular job.  Veterans who are eligible for additional preference points have these points added to their score on the Civil Service exam which may put them in the top three if it boosts their score enough, but does not guarantee a spot in the top three.  The benefit to the veteran is if a veteran with preference is in the top three and his or her score is higher than that of one of the other top three candidates, the veteran cannot be passed over for the job to go with the person without preference whose score is below that of the veteran but still in the top three.  The only reason a potential employer could over pass a higher scoring preference eligible veteran is if there are sound reasons that relate directly to the veteran’s fitness that would make him or her unsuitable for the position.  If there is not a veteran within the top three the employer is free to hire whichever of the three they choose regardless of their scores.