Sign up for VA Careers news

Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

We’re here anytime, day or night – 24/7

If you are a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, connect with our caring, qualified responders for confidential help. Many of them are Veterans themselves.

Get more resources at

Hone your VA job search by answering the 5 “W”s

Not sure where to start in your job search? When tackling a story, journalists like to rely on the 5 “W”s—who, what, when, where, and why— to help shape their reporting. However, you can use those same questions to help you find the job that’s right for you at VA.


Don’t worry, this isn’t an existentialist kind of question! Instead, answer the “who” portion of your job search by taking stock of your skills, talents, training, and anything else that would make you appealing to a hiring manager.

This reflection will be crucial as you develop your resume. With each piece of your work history, define who you are as an applicant by showcasing all the things you’ve done in each of your past roles—not just the work, but how you handled those tasks beyond just a job description.

Your cover letter is going to allow you the opportunity to explore the things that make you a unique candidate, too. Perhaps you have a personal investment in our mission to serve Veterans, or outside-the-box experience that might be valuable. This is your chance to share who you are with us.


The best way to interpret the “what” of your job search is to ask yourself what kind of job you’re looking for. To do this, build on the answers you provided in the “who” portion of the job search and figure out how they apply to jobs at VA.

For folks like doctors and nurses, the answer is simple, but for those of us with more diverse work histories, it might be challenging to find a role that fits your experience. However, there are a number of entry-level jobs and unique positions that offer pathways to VA you may never have otherwise considered.


Take stock of your current situation to answer the “when” of your job search. If you’re currently employed, you’ll probably want to give notice. If you need a job right away, you may want to look at jobs other than your first choice just to get your foot in the door.

Don’t forget to factor in the hiring side of the equation, too. While we’d all love to be able to send out an application and have a response immediately, things usually don’t work that quickly. The VA application timeline has many stops along the way, not all of them determined by even the hiring manager.

With that in mind, setting some reasonable expectations for responses and results is a good way to keep yourself from getting discouraged. The thing to remember here is that getting a job at VA is a marathon, not a sprint.


Next up, decide where you want to go with your career. One of our favorite VA career benefits is the opportunity to work anywhere, since we have over 1,300 locations across the United States and its territories. In short, there’s a VA location for everyone.

City living offers a variety of advantages, like diverse schools, expanded small retail options, and broader public transit systems. VA facilities, too, are often denser in urban areas, which can mean more opportunities for advancing your career while providing Veterans with the health care they need.

Outside the big cities, though, rural VA operations are just as valuable, sometimes even more so. Our providers in rural locations can have a huge impact on the health of the entire community. Those communities also offer greater privacy, less traffic, a greater sense of connection, a lower cost of living, and access to the outdoors.


Finally, as you start your journey to a job at VA, it’s a good idea to consider why you’re making the change. What about your current job has left you unsatisfied? You need to ask yourself these kinds of questions to better understand the type of change you need to make.

Tying back to the first question on our list, take stock of things that you enjoy in work. Do you want to lead? Solve problems? Be a smiling face for the Veterans who come through our doors? Finding that core part of what you want to do can help you find the best career options.

Perhaps you already like what you do, but you just need more from an employer. We offer competitive pay, great benefits, extensive paid vacation, robust insurance packages, and more that have made us one of the top employers in the federal government.

Work at VA

Let the answers to these 5 “W”s guide you to the right VA career and get ready for one more “W”—Work at VA.

Share this article

We appreciate your feedback

To help us provide you with a better experience and improve the content on this page, please submit your feedback.

Need help with your job search?

Our recruiters can provide personalized support to help you find a position at VA that fits your skills and lifestyle.

Connect with a VA recruiter