TAO Self-help

Title:Veterans Preferences are Still Intact, but Will the Jobs be There?

Author:Barbara Adams, CPRW, CEIP, MFRW, MMRW, MFCA-T

Date:December 2016

Source:www.militaryresumewriters.com and www.careerproplus.com

What You should know about Veterans preferences and Federal Jobs

The policy of providing hiring preferences for U.S. military veterans and disabled veterans is well established, but language in the pending defense authorization bill has called the policy into question. The incoming administration has also proposed a hiring freeze intended to reduce the size of the federal workforce. If you're an active member of the military who is considering a transition to federal employment, you should be aware of the potential implications. This article provides a brief overview of the long history of veterans preferences and a look at current developments that could impact your prospects for federal government employment.

History of Veterans Preferences

The idea of providing hiring preferences for members of the military who have put their lives on the line for our country dates back to the founding of our country. George Washington recognized the importance of honoring and expressing appreciation for those who had served in war:

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."

Hiring preferences for veterans were first written into law by the U.S. Congress shortly before the end of the Civil War:
Persons honorably discharged from the military or naval services by reason of disability resulting for wounds or sickness incurred in the line of duty, shall be preferred for appointment to civil offices, provided they be found to possess the business capacity necessary for the proper discharge of duties of such offices.

- Section 1754, Revised Statutes of the U.S, March 3, 1865.

The original action wasn't prescriptive, but a series of laws and executive actions beginning in 1888 provided specific hiring preferences for military veterans who applied for federal government positions and also instructions for preferential retention when the size of the federal workforce was reduced. The policy of providing an advantage to U.S. veterans is well established, and with a few lapses, it has been reinforced by a succession of laws and policies over the past 150 years.

In recent history, the Obama administration strengthened hiring preferences for veterans. On November 9, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. Obama's Veterans Employment Initiative established a Council on Veterans Employment and set out to increase opportunities for veterans seeking employment in federal service.

It was a successful effort. A recent OMB report analyzes the effects of the initiative from 2011 - 2015. Over that period, the percentage of veterans in the federal workforce increased from 27.3% to 30.9% of the federal workforce. Employment of disabled veterans increased from 20.8% to 30.9%. Veterans accounted for 32.5% of federal government new hires during the period measured by the OMB study.

So what's the problem?
Some members of Congress feel that the preferences have gone too far. They're reacting in part to concerns from federal agencies who are experiencing difficulties finding the best-qualified individuals to fill increasingly technical positions. Opponents of the current preference system argue that it prioritizes military service above qualifications and that individuals entrenched in the bureaucracy are abusing the privilege.

Ironically, amendments to the current system of preferences were proposed by Senator John McCain of Arizona, himself a distinguished veteran and Vietnam-era POW. The proposed changes to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would abolish preferences for veterans currently employed by the federal government who apply for new positions. Incentives for new hires would remain in place.

Under pressure from veterans groups, McCain recently indicated that he would seek to remove the changes from the final draft of the NDAA, which is scheduled to come before Congress in December. Proponents of military preferences argue simply that hiring concerns are a small price to pay for veterans who were willing to fight and die for our country. Given the recent election results and the advocacy for U.S. veterans by candidate Donald Trump, this sentiment is likely to prevail.

A Federal Hiring Freeze may be coming
With the upcoming change of administration, a potentially more challenging problem looms for veterans seeking a military transition to federal employment. In a October 22 campaign speech at Gettysburg, PA, candidate Trump proposed a Contract With the American Voter. The second point in the document calls for a federal hiring freeze "to reduce the federal workforce through attrition." It includes most federal agencies, but exempts the military, public safety, and public health.

There is rampant speculation in the media regarding the practicality of and the prospects for a wholesale government hiring freeze, but it is a concern for current military personnel who are considering a federal transition. The departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and the Veterans Administration are not likely to be affected, but a suspension of hiring will affect prospects in other government agencies.

What Should You Do?
Don't panic. There will still be federal jobs, but for now you may want to focus on departments that deal with defense and national security. President-elect Trump has frequently affirmed a desire to strengthen the U.S. military. A Restoring National Security Act is listed in his Contract with the American Voter that suggests major increases in defense and national security expenditures. The new administration's initial cabinet appointments are also proponents of military expansion.

It's very likely that demand for qualified employees will continue to grow in defense-related agencies of government. The tradition of veterans preferences is firmly established, enhancing your prospects for new jobs in these agencies. (To learn more about the formula for veterans preferences, see the Feds Hire Vets website)

If you're approaching military retirement, you should also consider private sector jobs. The economy continues to grow and military veterans are in demand among defense contractors and other U.S. employers.

CareerPro Global is here to help with your military transition. We can assist with practical career counseling and with military to federal and military to corporate resumes. Since 1988, we've helped literally thousands of veterans to convey the value of their military careers with resumes that produce interviews and land the best positions. If you're ready to get started, we hope you'll get in touch for a free career consultation.



Barbara Adams, President and CEO of CareerPro Global (CPG), the parent company of www.careerproplus.com and www.militaryresumewriters.com, has been a member of the careers community for the past 20 years. Ms. Adams holds four prestigious industry certifications. CareerPro Global is the only ISO 9001-2008 Certified Career Service in the industry, as well as one of the fastest-growing Military, Federal, and Civilian Resume-Writing and Careers-Coaching companies. The team of Certified Professional Federal and Military Resume Writers at CPG assist thousands of clients in applying for and gaining employment each year. We can help you land your military to civilian job.

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